Criminal complaint filed against Deputy Ambassador of Sri Lanka for war crimes
Geneva, Bern, 4 August 2011
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and TRIAL – Swiss Association against Impunity – filed today a criminal complaint with the Federal Attorney General against the former Major General Jagath Dias for war crimes. Although the STP and TRIAL have invited the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) on several occasions to take action against Dias, the Deputy Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Germany, who is also accredited in Switzerland, continues to benefit from his diplomatic status. It is time for Switzerland to give a clear signal against impunity.
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and TRIAL – Swiss Association against impunity – filed today a criminal complaint with the Attorney General against Jagath Dias who is suspected of having committed war crimes during the final stage of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Dias was appointed as the Deputy Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Germany in September 2009 and is also accredited to this function in Switzerland and the Vatican. There are numerous indications that war crimes were committed by the 57th division of the Sri Lankan Army, under the command of Dias. Dias was the Major General of the Sri Lankan Army during the final offensive against the rebel group Tamil Tigers (LTTE) end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, which cost the life of approximately 40,000 civilians, according to a recent report by the United Nations. In particular, during this time, the troops of Jagath Dias carried out massive bombings of civilians and hospitals.
On 24 January, STP and TRIAL urged the Federal Council to take action against Jagath Dias for the first time. On 3 May, they asked the FDFA publicly to declare Dias “persona non grata” and to withdraw his diplomatic visa. Last week, the organisations learned that the FDFA had “taken measures”, but that those measures could not be made public. To date, Dias is still in office as the Deputy Ambassador of Sri Lanka.
The organizations hope that the criminal complaint will result in the arrest of Jagath Dias the next time he travels to Switzerland and a judicial inquiry into the allegations against him will be undertaken. Further, the STP and TRIAL insist that the Swiss government use its discretional power to withdraw the diplomatic status of Dias now. This would be a clear sign by Switzerland that it is serious in the fight against impunity.