The wife of former top LTTE official Ramesh has filed an argument at a New York court over an earlier notice submitted to court by the US State Department which had stated that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has immunity as a serving President.
A U.S. court had earlier this year dismissed a lawsuit against President Mahinda Rajapaksa for alleged human rights violations by the Army, on the grounds that he enjoyed immunity from lawsuits as a head of state.
Rajapaksa was sued by families of alleged torture victims under the Torture Victim Protection Act passed by Congress in 1992 but District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed the case, contending that Mr. Rajapaksa had immunity as a sitting head of state.
The State Department had entered a motion asking the case be dismissed because of the immunity precedent.
However EINPresswire.com reported that Ramesh’s wife Vathsala Devi had filed an argument at the US District Court in the Southern District of New York yesterday.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald Presided over the case argued by Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran who appeared for the plaintiff. The State Department was represented by Amy A. Barcelo Assistant US Attorney. Ali Abed Beydoun argued on behalf of Speak Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, which filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Plaintiff’s position.
The issue in the case is whether it should be dismissed pursuant to the Suggestion of Immunity submitted by the US State Department.
The Plaintiff argued that the Department of State lacks a legal basis, namely the law making authority, to file the Suggestion of Immunity.
However the Department of State argued that for the last 160 years courts have accepted the State Department’s determination of Head of State Immunity. The amici argued the State Department’s determination violates the separation of powers.
The judge made an observation that the fact Congress has not amended the law to eliminate the State Department’s role suggests that it acquiesces the State Department’s position.
The Judge reserved the decision.