“Jacques de Maio, ICRC’s Head of Operations for South Asia, began by stating that, because of ICRC’s strict confidentiality rules, he would be unable to share any specific information regarding allegations of crimes by either side, nor would he be able to direct Williamson to sources. That said, de Maio engaged in a lengthy discussion of the conflict and offered a nuanced view of the complex situation on the ground. For example, he said that the Sri Lankan military was somewhat responsive to accusations of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and was open to adapting its actions to reduce casualties, but only to the extent that this would not undermine its overriding military objective – to destroy the LTTE.” the US Mission to UN informed Washington.
US Ambassador to Geneva Clint Williamson
The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The “Confidential” cable discuses what had happened on the ground during and since the conflict. The cable was signed by the US Ambassador to Geneva Clint Williamson on July 15, 2009.
After a meeting with Jacque de Maio, ICRC Head of Operations for South Asia on July 9, 2009, just two months after the war, the ambassador wrote; “The army was determined not to let the LTTE escape from its shrinking territory, even though this meant the civilians being kept hostage by the LTTE were at increasing risk. So, de Maio said, while one could safely say that there were ‘serious, widespread violations of IHL,’ by the Sri Lankan forces, it did not amount to genocide. He could site examples of where the army had stopped shelling when ICRC informed them it was killing civilians. In fact, the army actually could have won the military battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chosen a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths. He concluded however, by asserting that the GSL failed to recognize its obligation to protect civilians despite the approach leading to higher military casualties. From his standpoint, a soldier at war should be more likely to die than a civilian.(Colombo Telegraph)