Mannar, Jaffna Bishops’ war crimes charge:
Catholic Bishops’ Conference won’t support move – Cardinal
US embassy claims having access to war crimes evidenceJanuary 12, 2014, 10:00 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando and Norman Palihawadana
Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka wouldn’t endorse the allegations made by Bishop of Mannar Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph and Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Saundranayagam that Sri Lankan forces had used cluster bombs as well as chemical weapons during the last phase of eelam war IV.
The Bishop of Colombo was responding to a query by The Island in the wake of media reports that the Bishops of Mannar and Jaffna had called for an international war crimes investigation during a meeting with US Ambassador-at-large at the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice Stephen J. Rapp in the North and US Ambassador in Colombo Michele J. Sison.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith emphasised that the controversial statements attributed to the two Bishops were based on their person opinion.
At the conclusion of Ambassador Rapp’s six-day visit on Saturday, Juliana A. Spaven, Press and Information Officer, US Embassy, Sri Lanka and Maldives said that the official during discussions here had had the opportunity to listen to eyewitness accounts about serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those that had occurred at the end of the war.
Spaven reiterated the US commitment to ensure an independent and credible investigation to pave the way for prosecutions. She said: "The United States remains committed to working with the government of Sri Lanka to promote greater peace and prosperity for all of the people of Sri Lanka. It is vital that all sides come to an agreement on events, have appropriate redress, and move forward as a unified country that upholds the rule of law and respects the principles of democratic governance."