Sri Lanka Brief



In the wake of grossly misleading reports in the national media as to who the members of the Advisory Panel of the United Nations, appointed by United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki Moon are, based on their uncritical acceptance of abuse by government politicians, the Sri Lanka Guardian publishes an authoritative sketch of their backgrounds. We do this in the interests of encouraging balanced commentary on the contents of the Advisory Panel Report and regret the inflammatory tone adopted by much of the mainstream media in this respect.

The following sketches have been compiled and sent to us by patriotic Sri Lankans – both senior and junor – who have expressed their deep dissatisfaction at the inability of sections of the national media to maintain a balanced perspective in their commentary.

The Sri Lanka Guardian wishes to pose some relevant questions. Is there anything to be gained by abusing these persons in a personal or professional manner? Is it not wiser to engage in sober dialogue with the international community and convince them not only of the trials that Sri Lanka has undergone in recent years but also show through constructive action, that Sri Lanka is willing to put into place a new era where all people will be satisfied with their place in a just and law aiding society?

Excerpted from Business Week Online, July 3, 2000, Bloomberg Business – The Stars of Asia

Marzuki Darusman has had a privileged upbringing. The son of an Indonesian diplomat, Darusman spent his formative years in Europe, where he acquired a taste for the more equitable social norms of the West. Whenever he returned home to the impoverished island of Java, the extreme class and economic differences made Darusman awkward in social situations with other Indonesians. ”Creating a level playing field,” recallled Darusman at one time ”was an elemental obsession.”

Appointed Attorney General of Indonesia, Darusman, 55, prosecuted cases that symbolized the inequities of Indonesian society. Corruption, mass murder, and human rights abuses during the three-decade rule of former President Suharto were all on the agenda. Indonesia was trying to hold accountable a privileged class that exploited the vulnerable. ”This is a push to create a situation where there is at least a sense of decency and rightness,” Darusman said.

His caseload was a wide-ranging corruption investigation of Suharto, his family, and his cronies. The case had been closed in mid-1999 by Darusman’s predecessor under pressure from army generals loyal to Suharto. After their leader, General Wiranto, was taken off active duty by President Abdurrahman Wahid soon after his election, Darusman reopened the case. Then he took the unprecedented step of placing Suharto under ”city arrest” and putting his closest business associate, Mohamad ”Bob” Hasan, behind bars to keep him from tampering with evidence. Prosecutors are studying the records of several ”charitable foundations” that were chaired by Suharto and run by Hasan.

Darusman also prosecuted Wiranto, the former armed forces commander, for crimes against humanity in East Timor. The Wiranto case was based on eyewitness reports that his troops carried out a scorched-earth and mass-murder campaign in the former Portuguese territory last September. The case gave President Wahid the ammunition to boot Wiranto from his powerful cabinet post. It also paved the way for Darusman to convict several Wiranto subordinates for human rights violations in the gas-rich province of Aceh.

Yasmin Sooka

Excerpted from

Ms. Sooka joined the Foundation for Human Rights in 2001 and serves as its Executive Director. She practised as a human rights lawyer during the apartheid era. In 1995, she was appointed as a Commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was responsible for the final report.

From 1998-2001, she was also an acting Judge of the Witwatersrand High Court. She is widely regarded as an expert on transitional justice and has been a consultant to a number of governments, commissions and civil society organisations. She was appointed by the United Nations to the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sooka also serves as an executive member to the Niwano Peace Foundation and is a trustee of the Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Black Sash Trust. She currently chairs the steering committee for South Africa’s Action Plan to address racism, racial intolerance, xenophobia and other related intolerance.

Steven R. Ratner
Excerpted from the official website of the University of Michigan

Steven R. Ratner joined the University of Michigan Law faculty in 2004.

Steven R. Ratner, the Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law, came to the University of Michigan Law School in 2004 from the University of Texas School of Law. His teaching and research focuses on public international law and on a range of challenges facing governments and international institutions since the Cold War, including ethnic conflict, border disputes, counter-terrorism strategies, corporate and state duties regarding foreign investment, and accountability for human rights violations. Professor Ratner has written and lectured extensively on the law of war, and is also interested in the intersection of international law and moral philosophy and other theoretical issues.

In 1998-99, he was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to a three-person group of experts to consider options for bringing the Khmer Rouge to justice, and he has since advised governments, NGOs, and international organizations on a range of international law issues. In 2008-09, he served in the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. A member of the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law from 1998-2008, he began his legal career as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. State Department. Professor Ratner holds a J.D. from Yale, an M.A. (diplôme) from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva), and an A.B. from Princeton. He established and directs the Law School’s externship program in Geneva.

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