Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Swimming Up-stream: Ending Extra Judicial Killings

On the eve of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s address to the UN’s 62nd General Assembly, Sri Lanka has been accused of 'a spate of extra-judicial executions' by the ‘military, paramilitary forces and insurgent groups in Sri Lanka’ by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions.

The Australian-born Legal Expert has bitten more than he can chew. The issue of extra judicial killings, meaning kills done outside of the proper legal procedure without recourse to a court of law, is conducted primarily by Governments whose Armed Forces have to deal with unconventional forms of terrorist violence. Unfortunately for the Special Rapporteur, many of these Governments are Superpowers and are refusing the UN access to investigate such killings. The 27 states that have so far failed to agree to visits by the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions range from Security Council members, such as China, Russia and the United States, to countries like El Salvador, Kenya, Thailand, Israel, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. More in-depth research conducted by experts reveal that in Counter-Terrorism, unconventional acts of violence are countered with other unconventional acts of violence.

‘The US, largely through the CIA, has a long history of involvement with genocidal intelligence operations, from Indonesia under Suharto, through Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, to present-day Colombia. The current mass arrests in Iraq and subsequent killings bear all the hallmarks of such an operation. In El Salvador Noam Chomsky noted that it was not enough for US-backed paramilitaries to kill someone; instead they might be decapitated and their head placed on a spike. In Iraq similar distinctions exist. The victims of US-trained death squads are not just humiliated; their eyes are gouged out, their skin is peeled off and electric drills are driven through their knees’.

On 6th March 1988, Operation Flavius was launched by the British using a team of Special Air Service men in Gibraltar. The aim was to arrest three IRA operatives allegedly plotting to detonate, via remote control, a car bomb targeting civilians in Gibraltar. The operation resulted in the controversial assassination of the three IRA operatives. The European Court of Human Rights, in its judgment issued in 1995 held that the killings were necessary since it was to defend ‘innocent persons from unlawful violence’.

In Sri Lanka, Military Intelligence sources reveal that the LTTE has armed, trained and deployed cadres in government controlled areas to destroy the Security Forces and their informants using suicide bombs, small arms, claymore mines, land mines etc. Many civilians have died in these attacks. Accusations of Extra Judicial Killings tend to emanate from responses by the Security Forces to counter these threats.

In an environment where security is of paramount national and international interest, the issue of extra judicial killings would have to take the backseat. From the point of view of Counter-Terrorism, The United Nations and the Human Rights lobby would have to address some questions if a more convincing argument is to be made against the use of Extra Judicial killings by countries facing the threat of terrorism.

1. Counter-terrorism Tactics and the terrorist methods they counter are not covered by the existing legal framework of human rights and humanitarian law.

2. Many of the worlds most powerful countries like the United States and Israel do not cooperate with Investigations or insist that the killings fall outside the mandate of the UN. The United States for instance has argued that targeted killings are part of armed conflict and that the mandate does not apply to armed conflicts.

3. “Shoot-to-kill policies” by law enforcement agencies in response to the threat of suicide bombers; that unconventional threats may demand unconventional responses.


NOLTTE=Peace said...

We need more articles like this!

It is good quality..

Keep up the good work..

defenceAnalyst said...

Thank you noltte=peace.

Anonymous said...

COLOMBO: The FBI is "discretely working" on the extradition of the
LTTE's chief arms procurer Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam alias
Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), well placed intelligence sources said. Both
Colombo and New Delhi vied for the extradition of the Tigers chief
arms procurer, yet both are losing the extradition battle.
"International war against terrorism received priority, and FBI will
get KP," said a well placed military source referring to foreign
intelligences sources."FBI is discretely working on the extradition,"
he said. The US attempt for extradition if successful will be the
second occasion that the United States has captures operative of the
LTTE's elusive arms smuggling network.Earlier, second in line of the
LTTE's KP Department, Pradeepan Thavarajah was extradited to the
United States after he was arrested by the Indonesian police. At that
time, the Indonesian police was acting on an arrest warrant issued by
a Washington court. KP carries an international Red Notice served by
Interpol Headquarters in Lyons, France.Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan
military team which visited Bangkok to meet Thai officials over the
detention of KP returned empty handed.However, local military as well
as diplomatic sources confirmed the detention of KP though there is
confusion over the nature of the detention. The initial notification
of KP's arrest received by Colombo said KP had surrendered and that he
was under "surveillance."The government went to town with the news,
which first appeared on the Defence Ministry website. However, both
diplomatic and military sources say that there was an agreement
between Thai and Sri Lankan authorities to keep the issue confidential


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