In a breath-taking attempt to subvert international institutions and the rule of law, the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed a candidate for election to the United Nations’International Law Commission, who is compromised by his failure to hold accountable the perpetrators of enforced disappearance, execution, torture and rape during his tenure as the country’s chief law officer. Mohan Pieris is now Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York but from 2008-11 he served as Attorney General of Sri Lanka, failing to investigate or prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2013 he was appointed to the post of Chief Justice, amidst a national and international outcry over the Government’s unlawful impeachment of his predecessor, Shirani Bandaranayake, which the UN Human Rights Council said was an assault on judicial independence and Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled as illegal.
“The UN’s International Law Commission codifies international laws, with some of its recent work being on areas like immunity, extradition and crimes against humanity. All lawyers and those who care about a more just world order must urge members of the UN General Assembly not to vote for this man,”said the ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka.
“Under Pieris’s watch, serious international crimes were alleged to have been perpetrated by the Sri Lankan security forces for which nobody has been held accountable. His appointment as Sri Lanka’s top diplomat at the UN in New York already sent an appalling signal to the international community regarding Sri Lanka’s disregard for accountability and was a slap in the face for thousands of victims who have still not accessed justice,” she added.
“This is a man who presided over a period in which journalists in Sri Lanka were abducted and disappeared, assassinated, brutally tortured and locked up just for doing their jobs. Media rights groups around the world must stand in solidarity with us against his nomination for a job that would help whitewash his record and that of his Government,” said Bashana Abeywardane of Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka.
“Those were journalists who exposed credible evidence warranting international legal intervention for gross human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan State. Appointing a man who denied them justice to a global body that decides on international law is like handing over a hen coop to a jackal,”added Mr. Abeywardane.
Read the full statement here
International Truth & Justice Project (ITJP)
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS)