Global Rights Compliance, a leading law firm in the areas of public international law including international human rights and international humanitarian law, on 27 October 2021, filed a submission under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court on behalf of 200 Tamil victims currently residing in the UK, who represent a much large number of actual victims of persecution by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Wayne Jordash QC, a world-leading expert in public international law and the co-founder and managing partner of GRC, spoke on his views of the submission earlier this week stating that to him it was “…crystal clear that the [Sri Lankan] government has been involved in a policy of persecuting the Tamils” and that “the evidence is quite overwhelming that these crimes are occurring, and it is quite crystal clear from the 200 victims that we represent, that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands more.”
Mr Jordash QC spoke about his experience representing Myanmar victims in a precedent setting submission made to the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber in 2018 which paved a very narrow but defined path to seek accountability and justice for Sri Lanka’s Tamil community. He also outlined what he believed, despite his extensive experience representing victims in Myanmar and in Ukraine, to be the “strongest communication I have submitted to the ICC”.
Despite this however, he noted that challenges exist. He explained that the Article 15 submission was the first step in a very slow process. It allowed the ICC’s Prosecutor to examine the submission but only then would he decide whether to take the case forward to a full investigation that would include interviewing victims in Sri Lanka and/or the UK. He remarked that the question is not that the crimes occurred but rather identifying whether and to what extent the persons named on the submission including Sri Lanka’s president, its defence secretary, former army commander and others, could be held responsible for the alleged crimes against humanity of deportation, deprivation of right to return and persecution – though he believes that the evidence against them is strong. Finally, he also noted, in the case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that it was unlikely that the UK would arrest a sitting president and his tenure as president would pose a challenge but “he won’t be president forever.”