Foreign courts not permitted to try Lankan soldiers for war crimes: AG

Monday, 25 June 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Attorney General, summing up a Bill entitled ‘Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment)’, submitted that the Sri Lanka Government would not permit any Sri Lankan soldiers to be tried for war crimes in foreign jurisdiction.

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill came before the Supreme Court.

The bench comprised justices Buwaneka Aluvihara, Sisira J. De Abrew and Nalin Perera.

Three petitions were filed in the Supreme Court for its Special Determination on the Bill. The petitioners are former MP Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Ven. Maduruoye Dhammissara Thero and Kumarajith Dharmadasa.

The petitioners in their petitions complained that Sri Lanka submits itself to universal jurisdiction pertaining to several criminal offences falling under international humanitarian law and human rights law which make Sri Lankan citizens subject to the jurisdiction of foreign courts and international criminal tribunals and courts.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam, appearing for the Attorney General, informed court that certain provisions would be removed and certain other provisions would be amended.

He further submitted that the Act already provided that any request made by foreign jurisdiction which violated Sri Lanka’s Constitution, including its sovereignty, national security and military law, would be refused.

He also submitted that this was a safeguard to prevent any soldiers being tried in foreign jurisdiction. He stated that the purpose of the Bill was to further strengthen the refusal of such a request.

The Supreme Court will intimate its Special Determination to the Speaker of Parliament.

Manohara de Silva PC appeared for Rear Admiral Weerasekera. Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC appeared for Ven. Dhammissisra Thero. Caniska Vitharana appeared for Dharmadasa.