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Greens push for recall of Sri Lankan High Commissioner

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 19 Oct 2011

The Australian Greens have written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to ask her to issue a formal request to the Sri Lankan government to recall its High Commissioner, Thisara Samarasinghe, pending an independent investigation into his role in alleged war crimes during the Sri Lankan civil war.

"If the Sri Lankan government refuses to recall the High Commissioner, the Prime Minister should expel Mr Samarasinghe pending an independent international war crimes investigation," Australian Greens Leader Bob
Brown said in Canberra.

Governments can reject diplomatic nominations on the basis of war crimes. In 2008, Canada refused to accept High Commissioner nominations put forward by Sri Lanka. In 1995, Australia rejected the nomination of retired Indonesian General Herman Mantiri as Ambassador due to allegations of war crimes in East Timor.

"There is mounting evidence the High Commissioner was implicated in war crimes when he was naval chief of staff and commander of the Navy's eastern and northern areas in the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war," Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

"My office is in direct contact with two Australian Tamils who witnessed artillery fire from the sea where the Sri Lankan Navy were patrolling into densely populated civilian areas.

"With CHOGM looming, Prime Minister Gillard needs to show that Australia will not turn a blind eye to war crimes allegations", said Senator Rhiannon.

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