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South America rights groups file war crimes suits against former Sri Lanka army general

[JURIST] Human rights groups on Monday filed suits against Jagath Jayasuriya, a former Sri Lanka army general, for alleged war crimes and human rights violations he committed during the 2009 civil war in Sri Lanka. The suits are based on his role as a commander in the Sri Lanka military during the final phase of the government's conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [Britannica backgrounder]. The suits allege [AP report] that Jayasuriya supervised units that are responsible for the torturing, killing or enforced disappearances of thousands of individuals, including civilians. Carlos Castresana Fernandez, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, stated: "This is one genocide that has been forgotten, but this will force democratic countries to do something ... This is just the beginning of the fight." According to Fernandez, suits have been filed in Brazil and Colombia, and will also be filed in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Fernandez also added that Jayasuriya has reportedly fled Brazil, although this fact could not be confirmed.

The global community has been calling on Sri Lanka to create more accountability, since the end of the country's civil war in 2009. In March the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] presented his report [JURIST report] on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] stating that much work remains to make Sri Lanka's judiciary conform with international expectations. In January a panel of the Sri Lanka Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms [official website] recommended [JURIST report] that the nation temporarily adopt a hybrid court with both local and international judges working in tandem to adjudicate war crime allegations stemming from the nation's civil war. In May 2016, a UN rights expert said that Sri Lanka was still torturing suspects [JURIST report] seven years after the conclusion of the civil war. In October the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye [official profile] urged [JURIST report] Sri Lanka to better protect minorities [JURIST report]. The UN released a report in 2015 finding that war crimes may have been committed [JURIST report] during the war. The UN report came amid mounting pressure from human rights groups and the international community to investigate and prosecute abuses during the conflict with the LTTE. In 2014 then-US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp [official profile] called on [JURIST report] Sri Lanka to investigate rights abuses by security forces during the civil war. In 2013 then UK Prime Minister David Cameron [Britannica profile] demanded [JURIST report] that Sri Lanka conduct its own investigation into war crime allegations.

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