Sri Lanka’s appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva, who is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Tamils, to the new position of Adjutant General of the army has sparked widespread criticism.
Major General Silva, who commanded the army’s 58 division during the final stages of the ethnic conflict in 2009 where tens of thousands of Tamils were massacres by shelling and aerial bombardment of civilian areas, assumed his duties at a ceremony on Thursday at the army’s headquarters.
“The appointment of Major-General Shavendra Silva, an alleged war criminal, as the chief administrative officer of the Sri Lankan Army is a slap in the face to tens of thousands of victims still waiting for justice eight years after the war ended,” said the South Africa based organisation, International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), adding that the appointment was evidence of Sri Lanka flouting its UN commitments.
“This appointment coming just days after the Human Rights Council session ended in Geneva is an outrage and shows the Government is not serious about accountability or security sector reform,” said the ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka. “This is a man whom the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai, said had, at the very, least a case to answer regarding international crimes”, she added.
“This is not just an affront to victims but also the international community to whom Sri Lanka committed to a vetting programme,” Ms Sooka added. “The UN should suspend the deployment of all new peacekeeping troops from Sri Lanka as they clearly cannot be trusted to vet the personnel they send abroad for their alleged involvement in war crimes if they keep on rewarding alleged perpetrators at home”.