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European Country Councils, TAG announce legal partnership

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 21 July 2010 07:54 No Comment]

TAGLogo Three democratically-elected Country Councils (CCs) in Europe announced Tuesday the signing of a formal "Collaboration Agreement" with Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group, to form a co-operative relationship to pursue criminal and civil litigation against Sri Lanka officials complicit in war-crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity in the courts of European Community member countries and in international courts. "Norway, Switzerland, and France CCs have already signed the preliminary agreement, and few other countries are expected to join the partnership soon," spokesperson co-ordinating the effort in Europe told TamilNet.

"Efforts to file a case against a former Sri Lanka military official in the European Court of Human Rights is close to completion and a formal announcement is expected on this matter soon," Norway spokesperson Mr Kandiah said, and added that this will be followed by a filing in the Norwegian Courts soon.

The recital section in the copy of the Agreement received by TamilNet, said, inter alia:

    TAG and CCs like to form a co-operative relationship to pursue criminal and civil litigation against Sri Lanka officials in the courts of European Community member countries and in international courts.

    CCs would like to benefit from TAG’s expertise in developing a Model Indictment filed with the US Justice Department charging Sri Lanka Officials of war-crimes and genocide (January 2009), of filing of law suit in the District Court of District of Columbia, Washington D.C., against US Treasury Secretary against voting for IMF loan to Sri Lanka, (March 2009), and submission of written evidence and oral testimony to the Dublin War Crimes Tribunal (January 2010).

    TAG, while providing assistance on legal action, would like to benefit from obtaining eye-witness testimonies and video depositions from victims domiciled in European countries of CCs for use in litigations in the U.S."

Article I of the agreement, describing the duties of the signing organizations, includes the following:

    TAG will provide assistance to CCs in (a) formulating legal strategies; (b) choice of forum based on the applicable laws that has highest chance of success when applied to litigation facts at hand; and (c) research and help in drafting a broad outline of complaint for filing in the chosen forum.

    Each CC agrees to (a) incorporate in its constitution provision to create a Litigation Group to execute litigation efforts bridging periodic CC election of office bearers; and (b) form a Litigation Group with a minimum of four members to take responsibility for pursuing litigation in areas of law that allow prosecution of Sri Lanka officials of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and to serve as a co-ordinating entity to other CCs, local Tamil organizations, and TAG.

Adding details to the on-going effort in a European country expected to be completed as part of the above agreement, a TAG spokesperson said, the first filing will be based on "Jus Cogens norms and individual criminal responsibility" and specifically on the "breach and continued breach of Articles 3 (Prohibition of Torture), Article 8 (Right to Respect for Private and Family Life), and Article 11 (Freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention of Human Rights, in violation of fundamental universally-accepted values, morals, and principles of human rights unequivocally accepted and respected by the modern community of civilized nations and postwar European democratic political society."

A Swiss spokesperson for the collaborative effort said "more than one hundred video clips, taken during the first five months of 2009, catalogued and labeled with the source, time and place where the videos were taken, will support the first round of filings, together with video depositions of witnesses. The complete collection of evidence will also be submitted to a ‘genocide database’ maintained by an NGO in a European country. A preliminary count of the civilan dead appearing in the videos alone has exceeded 6,000, a number close to the numbers killed in Srebrenica genocide."

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