Outcry over Shavendra Silva’s appointment as Army Chief of Staff

Outcry over Shavendra Silva’s appointment as Army Chief of Staff

January 12, 2019   10:46 am


Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to appoint Major General Shavendra Silva to the country’s second-highest army ranking, has evoked outcry from rights groups.

Silva, who commanded an army division accused of human rights abuses during Sri Lanka’s war, formally assumed duties as Chief of Staff of the army on Thursday.

The International Truth and Justice Project, which has pursued war-era officials accused of crimes, said Silva’s appointment was “a shocking new low for Sri Lanka”.

“This is arguably the most wanted man in Sri Lanka,” the South Africa-based rights group said in a statement on Thursday.

“A decade on, tragically, he is being promoted instead of standing trial. We believe there is more than enough evidence to charge him for international crimes should the opportunity arise.”

Another rights group, the South Asian Centre for Legal Studies, said Silva’s election was proof of continuing impunity in Sri Lanka.

“It also signals the absence of vetting within the defense structure, allowing alleged violators of international humanitarian law and human rights law to remain in high ranking positions,” the center said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who appointed Silva in a ceremony in Colombo, said the major general’s “experience and leadership will bring strength and courage” to Sri Lanka’s armed forces.

Silva formally assumed duties in his new position on Thursday, the army said in a statement.

-With inputs from agencies

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