Military to be immune from int’l prosecution

  • Government moots new laws


The Government is planning to protect military officials from international prosecution through the introduction of laws that would purportedly grant military officials international immunity, The Morning learnt.

“Laws would be introduced to ensure military officials cannot be prosecuted by entities outside the country,” Media Secretary to the Minister of Education Buddhika Wickramadara told The Morning yesterday (25), referring to sentiments expressed by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman and Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris at a press conference held at the SLPP headquarters recently.

Wickramadara said that the current laws of the country are insufficient to protect military officials from being prosecuted internationally, adding that in this regard, the Government is hoping to follow the example of the US.

Currently, the international body solely charged with the prosecution of international crimes is the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, Sri Lanka has not signed and ratified the “Rome Statute” of the ICC, the Convention which was created to prosecute criminals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Thus, only the United Nations (UN) Security Council can refer Sri Lanka to the ICC.

Alternatively, universal jurisdiction allows national courts to prosecute individuals for alleged serious crimes under international law committed outside their territory.

Shortly after the ICC came into existence, the US introduced the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA) which, while limiting US support and assistance to both the ICC and states that have ratified the Rome Statute, also authorises the US President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release” of certain US and allied persons who may be tried by the ICC. The US also withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute, having never ratified it.