( January 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Many Sri Lankans – even those usually described as “educated” and those from the academic side – appear to be convinced both the International Criminal Court and the international community only seek to punish the present Sri Lankan regime; and – particularly its leader President Mahinda Rajapakse – for selective treatment. The reasons adduced are varied – starting from Rajapakse refusing to yield to the call of the Western countries to abandon military action in May 2009 against Prabakaran and his Tiger outfit in its last stand. A further belief is Rajapakses troubles are due to his warming up to the usual villains in the current world – Iran, China, North Korea, Burma and Pakistan. In particular the attacks are centered on the South African of Tamil origin.
| by I. S. Senguttuvan
Navanetham Pillai – current UNHC for Human Rights – a noted HR campaigner and Jurist – Harvard Law School background to boot. The widely held prejudice against Ms Pillay is her Tamil background. She is accused of taking the side of Prabakaran and his Tiger outfit. Much of the Sri Lankan private media – forced into submission by a myriad intimidatory tactics of the current regime. Feared in particular is the hardline Defence Secretary, brother of President Rajapakse. He has absolute control over the Srl Lankan Army and vigilante units within. Gothabya Rajapaakse is generally identified with events leading to the killing and disappearance of noted journalists and opposition politicians. Many media men have vanished from the country in fear of their lives and now live in safer climes.
Yet another recent inductee to GoSL’s “won’t invite for Dinner” list is Marzuki Darusman – the former Indonesia Attorney General and yet another noted HR lawyer.. His crime – he was Chairman of a Committee of 4 appointed by the UNSG Bank Ki Moon on the charges of the death of over 100,000 civilian Tamils in May 2009 in the battle between GoSL forces and the LTTE. The Report did not engage the particular favour of the Rajapakse regime. He and the Report are regularly slated by the local media – much of it either Government-controlled. Many practicing journalists live in fear of the regime that is also in cohorts with violent elements in the underworld..
But how far is this perception of GoSL and its many local supporters on both the ICC and IC true?
The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
The international community has long aspired to the creation of a permanent international court, and, in the 20th century, it reached consensus on definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials addressed war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity committed during the Second World War.
In the 1990s after the end of the Cold War, tribunals like the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda were the result of consensus that impunity is unacceptable. However, because they were established to try crimes committed only within a specific time-frame and during a specific conflict, there was general agreement that an independent, permanent criminal court was needed.
On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court.
The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.
This week the ICC found Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the founder of modern Kenya and current Deputy PM and Minister William Ruto for crimes committed in the massive violence that engulfed Kenya in 2007 where over 1,200 lives were lost and over 600,000 made homeless. The Court still conducts its enquiries against President Charles Taylor of Liberia for crimes committed in neighbouring Rwanda.
Yesterday, the French Parliament sanctioned a Bill that made punishable with imprisonment and fine public denial of the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish Ottoman armed forces as they were withdrawing.
The point is in today’s enlightened world genocidal crimes cannot be hidden under the cloak of sovereignty. Mass murder of civilians committed with impunity in one country in the mistaken belief the world will ignore it does not hold water any loneer. It is equally mistaken to assume legal action cannot be taken because it is committed elsewhere – in a different foreign soil. While not being signatories to the Rome Treathte might give you temporary solace, there is little doubt a more enlightened, a more reasonable world will close ranks to hound down those who commit mass genocidal crimes.
Sri Lanka is best advised to steer clear away from that much criticized George Bush doctrine “if you are not with us, you are against us”