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Germany, Switzerland and Vatican grant diplomatic protection to alleged war criminal

03.05.2011 ( Last modified: 17.07.2017 )

ECCHR-Dossier confirms allegations against the Sri Lankan diplomat accused of committing numerous war crimes.

3 May 2011 (Berlin/Bern/Geneva). ECCHR has today published a new dossier which substantiates allegations of war crimes committed by the 57 Division of the Sri Lankan Army under the command of Jagath Dias (available at www.ecchr.eu). Jagath Dias was Major General of the Sri Lankan Army during the final offensive against the rebel group Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in 2009. According to a recent report by the United Nations, approximately 40.000 civilians died according during this phase of the conflict. Since September 2009, Dias has been an accredited diplomat in the Sri Lankan embassy in Berlin for Germany, Switzerland and Vatican.

In January 2011, ECCHR presented the detailed dossier to the German Federal Foreign Office, and then jointly with the Society for Threatened Peoples and TRIAL to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and finally to the Vatican in April 2011. On each occasion, ECCHR and its partner organizations urged the countries to withdraw the diplomatic visa of Jagath Dias and to declare him as a persona non grata. Meetings to discuss this matter were proposed; but to date none have taken place. In spite of the grave allegations of war crimes faced by Jagath Dias at the time of his accreditation in 2009, he was issued diplomatic visas by the German, Swiss and Vatican governments.

The now-released ECCHR-Dossier details numerous crimes committed by the 57 Division, focusing in particular on the targeted shelling of the civilian population in no-fire zones, hospitals, humanitarian objects and religious sites. The research is based on official Sri Lankan government sources, numerous witness statements and reports by international NGOs. However, no genuine investigations have been initiated. Just last week, a UN panel of experts echoed two years of demands by international NGOs and called for independent international investigations. ECCHR, the Society for Threatened Peoples and TRIAL have supported the UN panel by providing witness statements, a submission on sexual violence in armed conflicts and a study on criminal accountability in Sri Lanka.

ECCHR program manager Andreas Schüller says: “The German and the Swiss governments are now called upon to follow up the numerous and credible allegations of grave crimes committed against civilians in the conflict zone and to lift the diplomatic protection accorded to Jagath Dias.”

“The United Nations expert report recommends international inquiries into war crimes in Sri Lanka. Now it is up to the governments of Germany, Switzerland and the Vatican to declare Jagath Dias as a persona non grata“, said Christoph Wiedmer, Director of the Society for Threatened Peoples.

According to Philip Grant, TRIAL director, “since Sri Lanka does not intend to investigate any war crimes allegations, it falls to the countries where the alleged perpetrators are present to open up prompt, independent and effective investigations. The time for action has come. German, Swiss and Holy See authorities must now firmly assume their international responsibilities. “

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