Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Patterns of Impunity

1958-2007

by TamilNation.org, accessed March 21, 2012

"The international community has repeatedly urged the Government of Sri Lanka to prevent further violence and to prosecute security force members committing extra-judicial killings. In 1983, the Government assured the United Nations that it intended to protect the fundamental rights of all Sri Lankan nationals. In February of 1984, Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the United Nations reiterated this commitment, assuring the United Nations' Commission on Human -Rights that the rash of Tamil killings during 1983 would be investigated and that the security forces responsible would be punished. To date, however, no security force personnel have been prosecuted." -- May, 1985

Impunity: Crime & No Punishment

Impunity means freedom from punishment.  During the past five decades and more the Sri Lankan security forces, para military groups and Sinhala goondas have violated the rights of the Tamil people, have killedtortured, raped and massacred with impunity, free from any fear of punishment. The pattern of behaviour established by the Sinhala  Sri Lanka government's refusal to adequately investigate the crimes committed against the Tamil people and the overt statements made by Sinhala politicians from time to time expose the true nature of the assimilative agenda of  Sinhala Buddhist governments.

Impunity Making Mockery of Addressing Extrajudicial Executions - Special Rapporteur to UN's Third Committee, 29 October  2007
Mass Acquittal in Bindunuwewa Massacre Case, June 2005

"At no time there were any incidents among the detainees and the management. There were no incidents with the neighbours either…. It is clear from the information now received by the authorities that provocation from external forces had led to this situation,"  - thus spoke President Chandrika Kumaratunga immediately following the Bindunuwewa massacre. The acquittal of the accused in the Bindunuwewa massacre was foretold...The ethnic biases have plagued the administration of justice in Sri Lanka. It has been almost impossible for the ethnic minority Tamils to obtain justice. The impunity accorded by the Sri Lankan government to the perpetrators of racial violence has increased the alienation of the ethnic minority Tamils. The judgement of 27 May 2005 which established the fact that not a single person could be held guilty for the mass murder of 28 Tamils in the protective custody of the State at Bindunuwewa will further increase the distrust of even the moderate Tamil minorities with the democratic institutions of Sri Lanka..."

Amnesty International Calls on the Sri Lankan Government to Prosecute Security Forces Responsible for Disappearances in Sri Lanka, 2004
In Sri Lanka, the security forces have been responsible for tens of thousands of "disappearances" ... "Disappearance" appeared to be used for two purposes: it facilitated torture without accountability and it concealed the killing of prisoners. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, there have been virtually no reported prosecutions or convictions. Impunity for these crimes continues. .."
Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission closes file on rape of Sarathambaal, June 2001

"..Since the government of President Chandrika is indifferent to crimes committed by members of the armed forces in a pervasive climate of immunity from punishment, such state sponsored terrorism is on the rise. The long arm of the law simply refuses to catch the rapists and murders, except in very rare cases, when the victims are Tamils!.."

Appeal submitted by the Tamil Centre for Human Rights to UN Commission on Human Rights, March 2000

"..Impunity remains a serious concern, and has been consistently noted in reports on human rights fact finding missions to Sri Lanka over many years. .. Impunity reigns, cutting deeper and deeper wounds into the Tamil people in the Island of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan security forces continue to arrest, torture, rape, murder and dispose of bodies with impunity..."

Written statement  by the Asian Legal Resource Centre at UN Commission on Human Rights, February 2000

 "The major obstacle to the prosecution of the perpetrators is that there had been no criminal investigations into the disappearances when they occurred. The criminal investigations were prevented by special emergency regulation laws, the passage of which created the background for large-scale disappearances. The provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code relating to criminal investigations were suspended through special laws. The bodies were allowed to be disposed of without any report being filed before the courts or without any inquest. As most of the bodies were burnt there is no possibility of examining them during belated inquiries. Further, as the alleged perpetrators are the law enforcement officers themselves, there is no possibility of conducting a credible inquiry into disappearances by the normal process of criminal investigations through the agencies of the police. The demand for the appointment of a special agency for investigating disappearances has not been heeded."

No action taken against soldiers committing human rights violations...reports British Refugee Council, January 2000

"..Batticaloa people are concerned that no action is being taken against soldiers committing human rights violations. Local (Tamil) MP Joseph Pararajasingham says that security forces fired indiscriminately while celebrating the New Year and killed R Suriyaprakash, 18, of Iruthayapuram. On 17 January, the Kalmunai court ordered the police to appoint a senior officer and submit a special progress report in the case of student S Sanjayan who allegedly died of torture in custody. The order was made after lawyers complained that the police had not made any progress in the investigation for the last three months..."

 Asian Human Rights Commission Statement, September 1999

....The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar in his speech to the United Nations failed to touch on the main issue of the debate, which is the gross abuse of human rights by the State. Does sovereignty give the right to a State to engage in gross abuse of human rights? Can those States, which have failed to redress gross abuse of human rights, say "we are sovereign, we do not need to redress to gross abuse of human rights." Can a state protect those who have committed crimes against humanity? Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet tried to use the same defence but failed. Sri Lankan record of gross abuse of human rights is much worse than that of the Chile during the rule of Pinochet....."

Sri Lanka's pervasive climate of impunity a source of concern says Human Rights Watch, January 1999

"..In several prominent human rights cases before the courts, security personnel accused of gross violations remained on active duty.. No progress was made in reopening the notorious Bolgoda Lake case despite government vows in 1997 to expedite it. The case implicated twenty-two Special Task Force (STF) commandos in the 1995 murders of twenty-three Tamil youths whose bodies were found floating in bodies of water near Colombo. The suspects were released on bail in 1996 and resumed their duties.....  Sri Lanka's pervasive climate of impunity was a source of concern for both the U.N. Working Group on Disappearances and Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Bacre Waly Ndaiye..."

A culture of impunity has developed says International Commission of Jurists, September 1998

"Between 1983 and the present day the security forces in Sri Lanka (including the armed forces, the police, and local militia units armed by the Government) have been responsible for thousands of murders and disappearances, the vast majority of the latter involving deliberate killings... a great many murders and disappearances have ... occurred in the course of the struggle against the LTTE. After a welcome decline in 1994 and 1995, there was a significant recurrence in 1996.... The fact is that not a single member of the security forces had at the date of the Mission, been convicted of murder. .."

Professor Jordan J. Paust  in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 1998

"The pattern of behavior established by the government’s refusal to allow non-governmental and HRTF investigations, as well as the refusal to adequately investigate denials of human rights, coupled with evidence of government impunity, constitute circumstantial evidence of the policy of denial of rights .."

Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions - March 1998

"...Effective impunity encourages political violence and is a serious destabilizing element in all contexts of the Sri Lankan socio­political system. Respect for the rule of law is essential to maintain order and stability and to protect human rights in any country. Impunity perpetuates the mass violation of human rights. There have been periodical extrajudicial executions, but few perpetrators have been brought to justice. Furthermore, impunity is an obstacle to democratic development and peace negotiations, and makes reconciliation difficult. This culture of impunity has led to arbitrary killings and has contributed to the uncontrollable spiralling of violence.  The systematic absence of investigation, either civil or military, into violations of the right to life facilitates impunity. Investigations are rarely conducted, and when they are, they do not lead to the appropriate convictions or penalties. .."

Tamil M.P. Joseph Pararajasingham on Impunity & Human Rights Violations in Batticaloa, Appeal to United States, August 1997

 "..the Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has given wide arbitrary powers to the security forces which results in the impunity enjoyed by them by usage of these obnoxious regulations, including through murder, torture and intimidation of witnesses. Also, the Government seems unable or unwilling to punish the perpetrators. Directives and statements by Government leaders, including the President, are not implemented by the military in the field. Since they are not punished, more violations are committed.

The military is also encouraged by the regular denials by the Government of the violations, ignoring results of independent inquiries, the government censorship and restrictions on outside observers and NGOs, and by the support that the Government and the military receives from the international community. Of special significance is the U.S. support in arms sales and Green Beret training to the Sri Lankan Army. .."

De facto impunity for security forces - Bolgoda Trial Collapses, March 1997
" When the case against 22 members of the Special Task Force including senior officers of the Intelligence Unit for involvement in dumping of bodies in the Bolgoda Lake was taken up in Courts on March 13, the  judge commented that the relevant parties were not present in Court and  that the absence of representatives of the Attorney General's Department in such a situation was an obstruction to justice. Saying  that continuing with the trial in such a case was a waste of time, he  added that he would not sit again in this case..."  
Justice has fled the entire system - Sinhala paper Sunday Leader - December 1996

"..The national newspaper pages pathetically record ever increasing stories of rape, murder, beatings, political killings and counter-killings, and suicides apparently motivated through fear or mental inability to contend with the fear of an unrestrained violent reprisal. ..This is the tragic and true state of affairs as far as law and justice are concerned in Sri Lanka. ... Ultimately, even rape and murder in some remote place is tainted with either political intervention or protection that ensures the rapist, the murderer, the killer, the political assassin, the arsonist, freedom to strut free and terrorise society.  The basic texture of political intervention negates social justice and the rule of law.."

Impunity remains a serious concern says Amnesty, August 1996
"...Impunity for those responsible for human rights violations remains a serious concern. Progress in a few court cases against members of the security forces charged in connection with "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions is slow; as are investigations into many other cases. Relatives of tens of thousands of people who were killed or "disappeared" over the last 13 years or so are still waiting for justice to be done...."
Report by an independent international law group on impunity in Sri Lanka,  May 1985

"..The international community has repeatedly urged the Government of Sri Lanka to prevent further violence and to prosecute security force members committing extra-judicial killings. In 1983, the Government assured the United Nations that it intended to protect the fundamental rights of all Sri Lankan nationals. In February of 1984, Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the United Nations reiterated this commitment, assuring the United Nations' Commission on Human -Rights that the rash of Tamil killings during 1983 would be investigated and that the security forces responsible would be punished. To date, however, no security force personnel have been prosecuted. The only sanction meted out has been the discharge of some officials guilty of gross human rights violations. On one occasion, for example, the Government discharged 149 navy and army personnel implicated in killing 51 innocent civilians in the Jaffna district between July 23 11 and 27, 1983. Even this relatively minor sanction has been rarely utilized. In the majority of cases, the Government has failed to discipline responsible security force members at all, despite assurances to the contrary. The failure to punish security force personnel implicated in violence and the weak sanctions meted out in rare instances of punishment seriously compromise Sri Lanka's international obligations and its domestic law. ...This study recounts repeated incidents for which the Government has accepted responsibility for violent acts by security force personnel and for which legal or administrative remedies have neither been pursued nor provided redress. "

Paul Sieghart: Sri Lanka: A Mounting Tragedy of Errors - Report of International Commission of Jurists 1984

"...the Government's lack of respect for the rule of law was evident in three cases in which a mantle of protection was thrown over officials who had exceeded or abused their powers.

Senator S.Nadesan Q.C., Sri Lanka Senate Hansard,  4 June 1958

"Shops were looted... but the police did nothing... Why did that happen? All that happened because specific instructions had been given to the police that they should not shoot, should not arrest, should not deal with the lawlessness and disorder that was let loose... rowdies and hooligans were given a free hand to assault, humiliate and rob any innocent Tamil walking the roads on that day. That was the attitude taken up by a Cabinet composed of Sinhalese Ministers... These (hooligans) were instigated by some members of Parliament... they were heading the gang of hooligans. The Prime Minister made a remarkably wonderful speech on that occasion. He came, he smiled and he told the crowd, "Don't do that. Rain is coming down. They will be cooled in no time." That was the type of appeal he made. If Sinhalese men were being thrashed by Tamils and their ears bitten, I wonder whether the Prime Minister would have adopted the same attitude." -

 

TAMIL PARLIAMENTARIANS ATTACKED 
BY SINHALA MOBS  & 150 TAMILS KILLED - 1956

"Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." - Article 6.1, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

"What happened on 6 June 1956 when the Sinhala Only Bill was being debated in Parliament? The members of the Federal Party, exercising their undoubted constitutional right, wanted to protest against the imposition of (the Sinhala Only) Bill. The Members of the Federal Party said that they would sit in silence on the Galle Face Green... It was a silent protest which they were entitled to make. They were seated there on the Galle Face Green, and Parliament was sitting solemnly listening to the Prime Minister. Troops and police were drawn round the place. 

What happened? Hooligans, in the very precincts of Parliament House, under the very nose of the Prime Minister of this country, set upon those innocent men seated there, bit their ears and beat them up mercilessly. Not one shot was fired while all this lawlessness to persons were let loose... Why? 

Orders had been given: 'Do not shoot, just look on.' Thereafter on that day, 6 June, every Tamil man was set upon and robbed. He was beaten up. His fountain pen and wristlet were snatched away. He was thrashed mercilessly, humiliated and sent home. The police were looking on while all this was happening before their very eyes. 

Shops were looted... but the police did nothing... Why did that happen? All that happened because specific instructions had been given to the police that they should not shoot, should not arrest, should not deal with the lawlessness and disorder that was let loose... rowdies and hooligans were given a free hand to assault, humiliate and rob any innocent Tamil walking the roads on that day. That was the attitude taken up by a Cabinet composed of Sinhalese Ministers...


These (hooligans) were instigated by some members of Parliament... they were heading the gang of hooligans. The Prime Minister made a remarkably wonderful speech on that occasion. He came, he smiled and he told the crowd, "Don't do that. Rain is coming down. They will be cooled in no time." That was the type of appeal he made. If Sinhalese men were being thrashed by Tamils and their ears bitten, I wonder whether the Prime Minister would have adopted the same attitude.-Senator S.Nadesan Q.C., Sri Lanka Senate Hansard 4 June 1958

"On 5th June 1956, the date the 'Sinhala Only' Bill was introduced by (Prime Minister) Bandaranaike in the House (of Parliament), as an act of protest, Chelvanayakam, the leader of the Federal Party, led a party of 300 Tamil volunteers and staged a sit down Satyagraha (peaceful protest) of the kind popularised by Mahatma Gandhi in the days of the Indian freedom struggle.

It was a peaceful sit down protest outside the House, on the Galle Face Green... On that day, the police were all around but allowed the Satyagrahis to be beaten up... Some Tamil Satyagrahis were thrown into Beira Lake near the Parliament House. From that moment every Tamil seen on roads of Colombo was attacked. Tamil office employees going home from work in public transport were caught and man-handled. Tamils had to stay indoors for personal safety for days on end.

Sinhalese hooligans took charge of the situation and went on a rampage of arson and looting of Tamil shops and homes. The rioting and violence were instigated by the government and actively supported by the Sinhalese organisations and Bhikkus (Buddhist priests) to frighten Tamils into accepting the 'Sinhala Only' Act...

The violence and rioting spread to Gal Oya and Amparai where, under an irrigation and re-settlement scheme, thousands of Sinhalese had been resettled in clusters around thinly distributed Tamil villages in the Eastern province. In the race riots in 1956, 150 people died. They included many Tamil women and children..." Satchi Ponnambalam: Sri Lanka - The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle, Zed Books Ltd, 1983

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VIOLATION OF 
RULE OF LAW - 1982

"Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law" - Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"During the campaign for the December 1982 referendum to extend the life of Parliament without a general election, a Superintendent of Police seized 20,000 pamphlets of 'Voice of the Clergy' opposing the referendum proposal. A Buddhist monk, the secretary of the organisation concerned, complained to the Supreme Court, under Article 126 of the Constitution, that this act had infringed his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. (The Pavida Handa Case in which S.Nadesan Q.C.appeared for the petitioner complainant) 

On 28th February 1983, the Supreme Court held in his favour, and awarded 10,000 rupees damages against the Superintendent personally, together with costs. On the 2nd March 1983, the Government announced that the Superintendent would be promoted, and that the state would pay the damages and costs 

That history soon repeated itself... On 8th March 1983, a former M.P., together with some others, went to deliver a letter of protest to the American Embassy in Colombo, where she was received courteously... On their way back, some police officers took away their banners...soon after (she) found herself under arrest, thrown to the floor and kicked. She too complained to the Supreme Court under Article 126 about an infringement of her fundamental rights...it (the Supreme Court) found that the arrest was unlawful and directed the Inspector General of Police to conduct further inquiries... That judgment was delivered on the 8th of June 1983. On the following day, the Acting Inspector General of Police announced the promotion of the sub-inspector who arrested her.

Two days after that, two of the Judges of the Supreme Court who had heard this case found their private houses surrounded by unruly mobs, shouting obscenities at them...It was a frightening experience, and no policemen was in sight. They tried to telephone the police , but found the lines mysteriously out of order ...and although the mobs arrived in public service buses and the disorders had clearly been organised in a concerted fashion, no one seems to have managed to this day to unearth anyone responsible: apparently, the relevant records of the bus station concerned have somehow been lost... 

Such events are hardly calculated to encourage the judiciary to remain independent, or to enhance public respect for its members, their judgments, or the rule of law...

The President freely conceded that he had personally ordered the promotion of the two police officers (in June 1983), and the payment out of public funds of the damages and costs. This he said had been necessary to maintain police morale...at a time when he found the Supreme Court a hindrance to some of his policies... The conclusion is inescapable that he was deliberately seeking to teach the Judges a lesson in order to make them more pliable to the Executive's wishes. If that is so, these were grossly improper acts; but for the immunity from all suit which the President enjoys under article 35(1) of the Constitution, they might well have been criminal offences..."

"...the Government's lack of respect for the rule of law was evident in three cases in which a mantle of protection was thrown over officials who had exceeded or abused their powers

In the first case two soldiers who had been arrested and remanded in connection with the shooting of a lame Tamil youth were released by the Magistrate on the instructions of the Attorney General. In the other two cases, the Government promoted police officers against whom the Supreme Court had passed strictures for exceeding their authority. 

This was justified by the Government on the grounds that the police must be able to do their duty without fear of the consequences of adverse court decisions... In face of this it is not surprising that the police and army increasingly take the law into their hands." - Paul Sieghart: Sri Lanka: A Mounting Tragedy of Errors - Report of International Commission of Jurists 1984

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SYNOPSIS OF EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS 
BY SRI LANKA SECURITY - 1979 TO 1985

Report by an independent international law group on impunity, May 1985

As a United Nations member, the Sri Lankan Government is legally obligated to respect and observe fundamental human rights and freedoms. Specifically, the Government must prevent extra-judicial killings by its own agents in order to comply with its international obligations. The Geneva Convention, which embodies binding principles of customary international law unequivocally proscribes extra-judicial killings or summary execution, the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment announced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.

Moreover, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPR), the Sri Lankan Government is bound to prevent arbitrary deprivation of life and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Finally, should such events take place, the Government of Sri Lanka has a duty to prosecute those found guilty.

The international community has repeatedly urged the Government of Sri Lanka to prevent further violence and to prosecute security force members committing extra-judicial killings. In 1983, the Government assured the United Nations that it intended to protect the fundamental rights of all Sri Lankan nationals. In February of 1984, Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the United Nations reiterated this commitment, assuring the United Nations' Commission on Human -Rights that the rash of Tamil killings during 1983 would be investigated and that the security forces responsible would be punished. To date, however, no security force personnelhave been prosecuted. The only sanction meted out has been the discharge of some officials guilty of gross human rights violations. On one occasion, for example, the Government discharged 149 navy and army personnel implicated in killing 51 innocent civilians in the Jaffna district between July 23 11 and 27, 1983. Even this relatively minor sanction has been rarely utilized. In the majority of cases, the Government has failed to discipline responsible security force members at all, despite assurances to the contrary. The failure to punish security force personnel implicated in violence and the weak sanctions meted out in rare instances of punishment seriously compromise Sri Lanka's international obligations and its domestic law.

The ICPR requires State Parties to provide effective domestic remedies for violations of the individual rights and freedoms recognized in the Covenant. In addition, Sri Lanka's penal code imposes an affirmative obligation to inquire into and to try all punishable offenses. Under Sri Lankan law murder is punishable by death and lesser included offenses such as culpable homicide carry stiff prison sentences. Sri Lanka's statutes regulating security force conduct also prescribe severe sanctions for extra-judicial killings and other violations of civilian rights.

This study recounts repeated incidents for which the Government has accepted responsibility for violent acts by security force personnel and for which legal or administrative remedies have neither been pursued nor provided redress.

The following is a synopsis of extra-judicial killings committed by the security forces since July 1979. Both the Tamil militants and the Government have acknowledged responsibility for the incidents attributed to them in this report. The description of each event has been divided into four categories:

1. the incident cited by the security forces as the cause for retaliation which often resulted in the deaths of innocent people;

2. the actual incident in which innocent civilians were killed by the security forces;

3. the Government's recognition of security force responsibility and its response in such incidents;

4. the Sri Lankan laws regarding the offense and appropriate punishment applies in such circumstances. This section has been included only where it is clear that the Government failed to fully comply with Sri Lankan law.

Events

July 1979

1. On July 12, 1979 emergency rule was declared in the Jaffna district following Tamil militant attacks on several politicians.

2. On July 14, several Tamil youths were taken into custody by police. Six were killed.

3. The Government appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee to inquire into the killings in August of 1979.20 The Committee's recommendations, which found culpable homicide were published in 1982. However, the Government did not implement them.

4. Sri Lankan law stipulates that when a person dies while in police custody, his or her body must be surrendered to a magistrate's custody for inspection into the cause of death. This procedural requirement was not followed. (Emergency Regulation 15A which permitted disposal of bodies without inquest proceedings into cause of death was not enacted until June 3 1983) The Select Committee's appointment was in conformity with Sri Lanka law because appointment of investigators is within the Government's discretion. However, Sri Lanka's criminal procedure code requires prosecution when the inquiring body finds sufficient evidence that a crime was committed or reasonable grounds to justify further proceedings. Consequently, the Public Prosecutions Director should have prepared indictments for the culpable defendants' trial upon securing the Attorney General's sanction.

Because Sri Lankan law requires trial of defendants committing punishable offences, the Government's failure to follow the Select Committee's recommendation does not comply with the criminal procedure code. Sri Lanka's criminal law provides that culpable homicide is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

May - June 1981

1. Some days prior to the District Development elections of June 4, 1981, violence broke out in the town of Jaffna. At an election rally held by the Tamil United Liberation Front 2 police officials were killed and 2 others injured. On June 2, a state of emergency was declared and a curfew was imposed.

2. In retaliation, the police set fire to the market area in Jaffna, the office of a Tamil newspaper, the home of a Jaffna M.P., and the Jaffna Public Library. In addition, security forces killed one Tamil at Neerveli, two at Urumpirai, one at Keerimalai, and one at Nallur between June 2 and 4.

3. The Government acknowledged police responsibility for the burnings in Jaffna. Police teams were formed to investigate the Jaffna violence. A trial of the police officials responsible for the destruction commenced in Jaffna but was subsequently moved to Colombo. Relocation was reportedly necessary to protect implicated police from angry mobs in Jaffna. However, the trial never reconvened because the defendants could not be located.

4. Sri Lankan law empowers magistrates to order detention of suspects likely to flee. It is unclear why the police charged in the Jaffna tragedy were not retained in custody.

May 18 1983

1. Tamil militants attacked a polling booth in Jaffna during local government elections in an effort to subvert the elections. Two soldiers died and several were injured.

2. In retaliation army personnel burned 175 Tamil homes, killed 1 Tamil, and wounded others in Thineveley, Jaffna on May 18.

3. The Government admitted the security forces' responsibility for the destruction. A senior police official remarked that 'what happened in Jaffna ... is exactly what the terrorists want, they want people to be resentful and embittered with the army." The Government abandoned efforts to discipline those responsible when 40 soldiers from the regiment involved deserted in protest.

4. Murder is punishable by death both under Sri Lanka's Army Act and its penal code.Culpable homicide carries a maximum sentence of 20 years under both these laws. The Government's failure to prosecute individuals known to have committed punishable offenses conflicts with its legal obligations to prosecute individuals violating the criminal law.The Army Act provides that its provisions for court martial and punishment of offending military personnel do not abrogate civilian criminal court jurisdiction.

July 23 - 27, 1983

1. Tamil militants killed 13 soldiers near Thinevely on July 23.

2. In response, security forces attacked civilians in a number of towns in the Jaffna district. On July 23, the army killed 51 people in Tirunelvely, Katharmadam, and Mathagal. During the evening of July 26, 130 navy personnel went on a rampage in Trincomalee town, burning hundreds of Tamil houses and shops and destroying a number of Hindu temples.

3. In a letter to Amnesty International the Government accepted responsibility for the killings by "members of the armed forces on the rampage.' The Government contended that the militants' attack on the 13 Thineveley soldiers "resulted in the pent up feelings of the soldiers [getting] the better of their sense of discipline., The Government subsequently discharged "with ignominy' 149 army and navy personnel implicated in the 51 Jaffna district killings and Trincomalee burnings.

4. Under the Navy Act arson is punishable by death or any of the lesser sanctions it specifies.The penal code prescribes a maximum 15 year prison term and fines as punishment for arson.Civilian criminal courts have concurrent jurisdiction with navy tribunals to prosecute military personnel. Dismissal with disgrace is the third most severe punishment authorized by the Navy Act. Murder is punishable by death under both the Army Act and penal code.Culpable homicide is subject to a maximum 20 year term of imprisonment under both the Army Act and the penal code. Army tribunals and civilian criminal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over military personnel.

Discharge with ignominy is the fifth most severe punishment authorized by the Army Act and is not a specified punishment for killing civilians.Consequently, the Government failed to sufficiently sanction the soldiers involved in the Jaffna killings under Sri Lankan law.

July 25 & 27, 1983

1. On June 27, 73 Tamils either detained or convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were transferred to the Welikade Prison outside Colombo. Following the July 23 Tamil rebel killings of 13 soldiers in the Jaffna district anti-Tamil sentiments among the Sinhalese were inflamed.

2. On July 25, 300-400 Sinhala prisoners broke into the compound where the Tamils were held and murdered 35 prisoners. The remaining Tamils were transferred to another prison building. However, on July 27, 17 Tamils who survived the first attack were murdered in another attack within the prison.

3. The Government acknowledged this event. However, it absolved the prison guards of responsibility for their failure to contain the ‘riot’, because the Welikade guards were all unarmed. After conducting a one day inquiry, the magistrate returned a verdict of homicide, but was unable to identify those actually responsible for the murder. Consequently, further investigations were ordered.

In January of 1984, President Jayewardene announced that a Supreme Court Judge would be appointed to conduct an independent judicial inquiry into the prison tragedy. To date, no such appointment has been made.

March 20, 1984

1. On March 20, two air force personnel were shot dead on the Jaffna Peninsula while traveling on a bus. A militant group took credit for these killings.

2. In retaliation, the air force reportedly killed at least 7 civilians and injured 24 others in Jaffna and in Vavuniya, located 90 miles away.

3. Although the Government acknowledges these incidents, it asserts that the victims were 'bystanders caught in the crossfire between militants and the air force. The Government neither conducted an inquiry into these events, nor reprimanded military personnel for the civilian deaths.

4. Murder is punishable by death under the Air Force Act as well as the penal code. Like the penal code, the Air Force Act imposes a 20 year maximum sentence for culpable homicide.In addition, the penal code provides that death caused by negligence carries a 5 year maximum sentence Given the Government's obligation to inquire about and punish acts that violate the criminal law, an investigation of the circumstances surrounding these civilian deaths should have been conducted to determine whether the deaths were avoidable. The Air Force Act provisions for court-martial and punishment of offending personnel do not abrogate civilian criminal court jurisdiction.

March 28, 1984

1. On March 25, a police officer was killed by an unknown gunman on Courts Road, Kayts. Another officer was killed in the Jaffna district. On March 28, air force personnel escaped an armed militant attack

2. Later on March 28, air force officials opened fire in the Chunnakam market place, a town eight miles outside Jaffna. Eight Tamils were killed in the onslaught. Shortly thereafter, air force personnel began shooting at citizens of Mallakan and Telleppallai, killing 1 and injuring 22

3. Air force officials admitted that both of these attacks were unprovoked. President Jayewardene subsequently stripped the responsible air force commander of his command and transferred him to Colombo.

4. It is questionable whether the Government's punishment of the commanding officer alone was sufficient under Sri Lankan law. Since the airmen were implicated in the 'unprovoked' killings, full compliance with the Sri Lankan criminal procedure code seems to require punishment of the air force rank and file involved in the Jaffna district tragedy as well as the superior officer.

April 9 - 12, 1984

1. Tamil militants bombed an army truck in Jaffna on April 9. Between April 10 and 12, militants reportedly attacked a police station in Point Pedro.

2. Army and navy personnel retaliated for the truck attack by opening fire in Jaffna and its surrounding environs. A number of bodies were reportedly burned to thwart identification.

3. The Minister of National Security contended that all of the estimated 32 killed were terrorists. However, the Government Agent for Jaffna estimated that 50 people died between April 9 and 12 and that 'hardly any of those killed by the army were linked with the guerrilla campaign for more Tamil minority autonomy. During this period, emergency regulations, which permitted police to bury casualties without postmortem or inquest were in effect and the identity of those killed was never established.

4. Murder is an offense punishable by death, under the Army and Navy Acts, and the penal code. Culpable homicide under all three acts carries a 20 year maximum sentence. In additon, death caused by negligence is punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.Because all of these punishable offenses may have been committed during the outbreak of violence in Jaffna, an investigation into the killings should have been conducted.

August 11, 1984

1. Six Sri Lankan soldiers were killed when a powerful remote control bomb destroyed a military vehicle at Illupangadavai, Mannar.

2. The army immediately attacked the town of Mannar and gasoline bombs were thrown at shops and houses. The city's main bazaar was set on fire. Adjoining villages of Adampan and Manthai were also attacked and 9 people were killed.

3. The Minister of National Security denied the reports, but Government sources in Colombo admitted that there had been instances in which some northern security force soldiers had retaliated following the deaths of their peers. The National Minister of Defense said that 3 soldiers were confined to their barracks pending investigation by a Cabinet sub-committee.However, no further measures were taken.

4. The soldiers' confinement to barracks seems to intimate that reasonable suspicion of their guilt in the killings and burnings existed. Consequently, an investigation should have been conducted. Arson is punishable by a 15 year prison term and fines. The penalties for murder, culpable homicide, and criminal negligence have already been discussed.

Incident 2

1. One Sinhalese soldier was killed by a bomb in his office.

2. In retaliation, soldiers killed 6 civilians in a restaurant.

3. The National Security Minister attributed the violence to mutinous members of the army, and pledged that those responsible would be immediately courtmartialed. However the Government has not, at present provided names of those court-martialed.

September 1, 1984

1. Militants bombed a police truck at Thikkam, near Point Pedro. Four policemen were killed.

2. Police responded by shooting 16-18 civilians dead in Point Pedro.Police also burned shops and several Hartley College buildings in retaliation for the attack.

3. The National Security Minister stated that 6 to 10 civilians were killed, and a few shops were burned according to government information. The Government ordered a police investigation and promised that disciplinary action would be taken against those responsible. The Minister, however observed that it was difficult to gather evidence sufficient to support court-martial sanctions. No one was subsequently prosecuted.

September 11, 1984

1. Nine soldiers were killed when a landmine exploded in Mullaitivu, a northern province.

2. A long distance coach was hijacked near Vavuniya, while on its way from Colombo to Jaffna, by groups of armed men in uniform. The coach was driven to a lonely spot on the Mannar Road, where the women and children were chased into the jungle, and the men were shot at as they attempted to flee. Sixteen Tamils were killed and 10 were injured. Tamil sources claimed that the hijackers were security force personnel.

3. A police source said that the army commander had warned the troops to avoid reprisals against civilians for the nine soldiers' deaths. The Government admitted that the attack could have been carried out by ex-soldiers and promised a full investigation. However no further measures were taken.

4. Kidnapping with intent to kill is punishable by a fine and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.Kidnapping with intent to cause grievous hurt is punishable by a fine and a maximum sentence of 10 years. The penalties for murder, culpable homicide, and criminal negligence have been discussed previously. In this instance, as in several discussed earlier, the Government's failure to conduct an investigation flouts Sri Lankan law.

December 4, 1984

1. An army vehicle exploded when it struck a landmine near Mannar.

2. In retaliation, the army killed 16 people working on a Ootuvayankulum farm in Mannar.The army also attacked two state transport buses between Murungan and Vavuniya, killing 37 people. Four people died when the army attacked the Murungan post office and 12 persons died at army hands in Parapandandal. The deaths of at least 90 persons were attributed to the army before its rampage ended.

3. Neither the National Security Minister nor the President responded to citizens' complaints.The Security Minister denied that the army had gone on a rampage, but admitted that innocent civilians were occasionally caught in the crossfire between security forces and Tamil rebels. However, no investigation of the identity of those killed was conducted.

4. Mutiny is punishable by death or Any of several lesser sanctions specified by the Army Act. Punishment for murder, culpable homicide, and criminal negligence have been discussed in preceding sections. Again, the Government's failure to conduct an investigation and prosecute responsible military personnel conflicts with obligations imposed by Sri Lankan law.

January 5, 1985

1. Tamil militants allegedly attempted to ambush an army patrol near Mannar.

2. Sri Lankan troops killed 8 Tamils outside of a Vankalar Catholic church, near the town of Mannar. The parish priest was also killed as he attempted to open the chapel doors.Thereafter, soldiers broke into the chapel, reportedly killing two boys, ages 12 and 14, who had been living with the priest.

3. The National Security Minister initially denied that, a Catholic priest had been killed, claiming that the church premises had been a terrorist haven and that all those killed were terrorists. Subsequent to protests by the Bishop of Jaffna., the Government ordered a police inquiry into the incident. The Government has not reported punishing army personnel involved.