Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: ‘GoSL War Crimes Is The Most Difficult Issue On Our Bilateral Agenda’ – US

By Colombo Telegraph – 

“Accountability for alleged crimes committed by GSL troops and officials during the war is the most difficult issue on our bilateral agenda. (NOTE: Both the State Department Report to Congress on Incidents during the Conflict and the widely read report by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) also detailed many incidents of alleged crimes perpetrated by the LTTE. Most of the LTTE leadership was killed at the end of the war, leaving few to be held responsible for those crimes. The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) is holding thousands of mid- and lower-level ex-LTTE combatants for future rehabilitation and/or criminal prosecution. It is unclear whether any such prosecutions will meet international standards. END NOTE.)” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Butenis

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “SECRET” and analysed the issues relates to accountability. The cable was written on January 15, 2010 by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Patricia A. Butenis.

Butenis wrote; “There have been some tentative steps on accountability on the GSL side. Soon after the appearance of the State Department report, President Rajapaksa announced the formation of an experts’ committee to examine the report and to provide him with recommendations on dealing with the allegations. At the end of the year, the president extended the deadline for the committee’s recommendations from December 31 until April. For his part, General Fonseka has spoken publicly of the need for a new deal with the Tamils and other minorities. Privately, his campaign manager told the Ambassador that Fonseka had ordered the opposition campaign to begin work planning a “truth and reconciliation” commission (ref B).”

“These tentative steps notwithstanding,accountability has not been a high-profile issue in the presidential election — other than President Rajapaksa’s promises personally to stand up to any international power or body that would try to prosecute Sri Lankan war heroes. While regrettable, the lack of attention to accountability is not surprising. There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power. In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka.” the ambassador further wrote.

We give below the relevant part of the cable;

Related posts to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Sampanthan Doesn’t Discuss ‘War Crimes’ Out Of Fear

VZCZCXRO9281
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHLM #0032/01 0151223
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 151223Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1120
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 2264
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9286
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7541
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5373
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3699
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5298
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0159
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0824
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4420
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9847
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 7136
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0154
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0001
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000032 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA WAR-CRIMES ACCOUNTABILITY: THE TAMIL
PERSPECTIVE 

REF: A. 09 COLOMBO 1180
     ¶B. COLOMBO 8 

COLOMBO 00000032  001.2 OF 003 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR PATRICIA A. BUTENIS.  REASONS: 1.4 (B, D)
ACCOUNTABILITY AS A POLITICAL ISSUE
----------------------------------- 

2. (S) Accountability for alleged crimes committed by GSL
troops and officials during the war is the most difficult
issue on our bilateral agenda.  (NOTE: Both the State
Department Report to Congress on Incidents during the
Conflict and the widely read report by the University
Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) also detailed many
incidents of alleged crimes perpetrated by the LTTE.  Most of
the LTTE leadership was killed at the end of the war, leaving
few to be held responsible for those crimes.  The Government
of Sri Lanka (GSL) is holding thousands of mid- and
lower-level ex-LTTE combatants for future rehabilitation
and/or criminal prosecution.  It is unclear whether any such
prosecutions will meet international standards.  END NOTE.)
There have been some tentative steps on accountability on the
GSL side.  Soon after the appearance of the State Department
report, President Rajapaksa announced the formation of an
experts' committee to examine the report and to provide him
with recommendations on dealing with the allegations.  At the
end of the year, the president extended the deadline for the
committee's recommendations from December 31 until April.
For his part, General Fonseka has spoken publicly of the need
for a new deal with the Tamils and other minorities.
Privately, his campaign manager told the Ambassador that
Fonseka had ordered the opposition campaign to begin work
planning a "truth and reconciliation" commission (ref B). 

3. (S) These tentative steps notwithstanding, accountability
has not been a high-profile issue in the presidential
election -- other than President Rajapaksa's promises
personally to stand up to any international power or body
that would try to prosecute Sri Lankan war heroes.  While
regrettable, the lack of attention to accountability is not
surprising.  There are no examples we know of a regime
undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or
senior officials for war crimes while that regime or
government remained in power.  In Sri Lanka this is further
complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the
alleged crimes rests with the country's senior civilian and
military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his
brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka.
BUTENIS

Back to Home page