The impossible case of war crimes in Sri Lanka
Recent history showed that it is very difficult to try bloody leaders when they lose the war: Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, Milosevic was tried, but died before the verdict, Gaddafi killed in a summary execution. Only Charles Taylor has been convicted and for crimes committed in Sierra Leone, not his own (Liberia). Bashir in Sudan could be the next one, but with strong opposition from the Arab countries. As you can see, it is almost impossible to put on trial state leaders. And these had lost the war, they were on the wrong side. Croatian leaders with very similar responsibilities of Milosevic haven’t been even mentioned; Kosovar gangs of criminals have been rewarded with independence. It goes without saying that misconduct, abuses and tortures committed in Iraq and Afghanistan are out of the agenda.
So the idea of starting such a process in Sri Lanka is remote, very remote. Further on it is very clear that the chain of command points straight to the top: President Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya.
More than 80 000 Tamils have been massacred; the army targeted civilians on such a scale, that mass graves are visible from the satellite. And the government was talking of a “zero civilians casualties policy”. You wouldn’t expect from the Rajapaksa administration an outspoken confession; but from US and Europe a more resolute stance to bring justice and accountability.
Rajapaksa won the war and is winning also the post-conflict. I’m convinced that war crimes have been committed: only independent investigations could verify this claim. Given the procedures currently on-going in Geneva, we have almost the certainty that a war crimes case against Sri Lanka will never take place.