was asked to revoke the diplomatic visa and remove from US, Brigadier Shavendra Silva, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Sri Lanka
, on alleged credible evidence suggesting that Mr. Silva who was the commander of the 58th division of the Sri Lankan army was involved in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This request was made in a memo to the US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Janice L. Jacobs, by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic of American University and SPEAK Human Rights Initiative.
That memo argues that since Brigadier Silva, as the commander of the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army, was allegedly involved in international crimes namely genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity he looses the protection of diplomatic immunity he enjoys as a diplomat at the United Nations. And as a result he should be removed from the US.
That memo cites recent United Nations report on Sri Lanka and other human rights organization`s reports, in which the 58th division was implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In addition, it highlights October 29th report by US State Department`s War Crimes Office.
The memo also quotes the Immigration and Nationality Act, which explicitly states that persons who have engaged, assisted or otherwise participated in genocide, or persecution of others or committed acts of torture or extrajudicial killings are removable.
The memo further states that the diplomatic immunity Brigadier Silva enjoys does not protect him from being removed from the United States. The present status of the evolution of the law in this regard is that international crimes pierce the veil of immunity. It cites a case Ferrini v. Federal Republic of Germany, in which the Italian Supreme Court
held that while customary law prescribes immunity from jurisdiction of a foreign state for acts which are the expression of its sovereignty such immunity should be lifted when such acts amount to international crimes.
The memo points out that while UN diplomats generally receive protection pursuant to the United States` agreement with the United Nations, the US Department of State has demonstrated on prior occasions that it has the authority to revoke a visa when a diplomat`s presence in the United Statesis contrary to US interests. For example, in 1987 US barred Austrian President and former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim from entering US for his participation in Nazi activities.
The memo additionally mentions that US immigration law states that US immigration law to exclude aliens, including diplomats, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the aliens entry would have adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States. Brigadier Silva`s presence, especially after the publication of the UN report, adversely affects United States` efforts to see that justice and accountability emerge in the islandof Sri Lanka. Memo concludes by requesting US State Department to conduct a thorough review of the decision to grant diplomatic visa to Brigadier Silva, revoke his visa and remove him from the United States.
In September 2010 Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic of American University and SPEAK Human Rights initiative submitted a position paper to the UN Panel of Experts stating that impunity constitutes a threat to peace and security in the island of Sri Lanka and urges the UN to take measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) is a democratically elected body of the Tamil diaspora. It conducted elections in 12 countries to elect Members of Parliament (MPs). These MPs drafted and adopted a Constitution, elected a Prime Minister, Speaker and a ten member Cabinet.