7 Tamil civilians killed, 24 injured

Place: Jaffna and Vavuniya | Courtesy: Local Media
| Date: 19840320

On March 20, two air force personnel were shot dead on the Jaffna Peninsula while traveling on a bus. A militant group took credit for these killings. In retaliation, the air force reportedly killed at least 7 civilians and injured 24 others in Jaffna and in Vavuniya, located 90 miles away.

Although the Government acknowledges these incidents, it asserts that the victims were 'bystanders caught in the crossfire between militants and the air force. The Government neither conducted an inquiry into these events, nor reprimanded military personnel for the civilian deaths.

Murder is punishable by death under the Air Force Act as well as the penal code. Like the penal code, the Air Force Act imposes a 20 year maximum sentence for culpable homicide.In addition, the penal code provides that death caused by negligence carries a 5 year maximum sentence Given the Government's obligation to inquire about and punish acts that violate the criminal law, an investigation of the circumstances surrounding these civilian deaths should have been conducted to determine whether the deaths were avoidable. The Air Force Act provisions for court-martial and punishment of offending personnel do not abrogate civilian criminal court jurisdiction.