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Diplomatic status of Sri Lankan war crimes suspect revoked

30.10.2011 ( Last modified: 31.10.2019 )

Bern/Geneva/Berlin, 13.09.2011

According to media reports today, Jagath Dias, a former Sri Lankan General suspected of having committed war crimes, was stripped of his diplomatic status. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), TRIAL (Swiss association against impunity) and ECCHR (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights) welcome this decision. However, these human rights associations reiterate their initial demand: Jagath Dias must be brought to justice. The STP and TRIAL have recently filed criminal charges against him in Switzerland.

Dias is the Deputy Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Switzerland, Germany and the Vatican. He is suspected of having committed war crimes during the last phase of the conflict in Sri Lanka when he was one of the leading generals on the frontline. In January 2011, ECCHR published a report detailing allegations of war crimes. In particular, this report highlights the attacks carried out by the 57th Division under Jagath Dias’s orders, against the civilian population in protected areas and against hospitals, humanitarian facilities and religious sites. In January 2011, the STP and TRIAL initially called upon on the Federal Council to take measures against Mr. Dias. In August 2011, a criminal complaint was eventually filed against him.

A first step in the fight against impunity

According to media reports today, Mr Dias could already have been sent back – following the recent announcement by Swiss authorities that measures have been taken against him. The intervention of the three non-governmental organizations has thus led to the removal of the diplomatic status of Mr. Dias. These organizations now invite the Attorney-General of the Swiss Confederation to monitor Jagath Dias’ possible presence in Switzerland and to issue an arrest warrant if he were to enter the country. 

The STP, TRIAL and ECCHR also invite the Swiss government to ensure that it takes into serious consideration any allegations of international crimes when examining visas requests from diplomatic personnel. If no impartial investigation has yet been initiated, the matter should also be transferred to the criminal prosecution authorities. Another case like that of Mr. Dias, where the granting of a diplomatic visa has probably prevented a criminal investigation, must be prevented. 

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