The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has declined to accept the proposed Presidential Commission to investigate into the disappearances that took place in the war torn areas during the conflict period.
Last Thursday President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given instructions to Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunge to appoint a Presidential Commission to investigate into the disappearances in the north and the east during the conflict period.
Weeratunge is also the head of the steering committee that oversees the implementation of the recommendations in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.
President’s media spokesman Mohan Samaranayake confirmed the Presidential directive but added that he could not make any further comments since President’s Secretary Weeratunge is yet to appoint members to the commission.
“Once the members are selected and the date is fixed I will release the details to the media. Till then I am not aware of its developments,” Samaranayake told The Sunday Leader.
However TNA MP Suresh Premachandran told The Sunday Leader that neither the TNA nor the Tamils would accept any commission or any reports on disappearances unless an impartial group of members are appointed to the commission.
“Without knowing as to who would be appointed to this so called Presidential Commission to look into the disappearances, we the Tamils know who the commission members would be.
They would either be military officers or political henchmen who can be controlled by President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” said Premachandran
He further queried as to why the urgency to appoint such a commission since the government had not shown any interest in implementing the LLRC recommendations for the past two years.
“Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is to visit Sri Lanka shortly and the Commonwealth Head of States are due to come to Sri Lanka in November.
Since the government has deliberately failed to implement the LLRC recommendations over the past three years, they are now appointing commissions after commissions to show the world that they are implementing LLRC recommendations.
Although the government can fool some, they cannot fool the Tamils or the International community,” Premachandran said.
According to him, Presidential Commissions appointed to investigate on various issues have become the laughing stock as there is not a single commission that has carried out any investigation impartially.
“When political stooges including military officers are appointed to investigate issues, everyone knows what the end result would be.
The last decision is taken not by the commission members but by the President. So why does the government wants to spend money and time to appoint such commissions which is wasteful,” alleged Premachandran.
Meanwhile, UNP General Secretary, parliamentarian Tissa Attanayake also said that the government does not have a genuine desire to investigate into the disappearances but merely to hoodwink the Commonwealth leaders.
“Had the government wanted to implement the LLRC recommendations, they had enough of time to do so over the past three years. The reason why they want to appoint a committee now is a known secret.
How many commissions have they appointed so far and have they ever implemented those recommendations? What the UNP request this government is to show the world that they are genuine in finding solutions with the LLRC recommendations and investigate into the disappearances and tell the kith and kin of those who have gone missing during the war what has happened to their relatives,” said Attanayake.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, JVP Central Committee member Bimal Ratnayake also said that the presidential commissions have never taken action against any wrongdoer but protect murderers and offenders.
“No sooner the war ended, we wanted President Rajapaksa to investigate into disappearances and to pay compensation to the people in the north and east.
Without even listening to our proposals, the government allowed the forces to acquire lands and to put up army camps hurriedly.
I am now talking to you from Kilinochchi and we cannot even gift a computer to a remote school without the army approval. There are security officers in every nook and corner.
North and East have been militarized after the war,” alleged Ratnayake.
According to him, if not for the 38 members of the USA Senate through Hillary Clinton, Mahinda Rajapaksa administration would not have appointed the LLRC commission.
“Not a single presidential commission has punished any person but has protected the criminals and offenders.
In such a backdrop how can we expect this commission to hold an impartial investigation,”he said.
LLRC Recommendations On Missing And Disappeared Persons
The Commission highlighted the Sri Lankan Government’s duty to investigate allegations concerning missing persons, disappearances and abductions and to bring perpetrators to justice. The need to immediately activate the special investigative mechanisms recommended by past Commissions to address the issue of missing persons and deter future occurrences along with the recommendation to appoint a Special Commissioner of Investigation was highlighted. The urgent need to provide close relatives of those missing with death certificates and monetary compensation should be made a priority.
The Commission also makes specific recommendations addressing concerns for detainees. These include expanding policies of cooperation with humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC to ensure detainee welfare, the establishment of a centralized comprehensive database containing a list of detainees to be made available to next of kin, and the implementation of a proper screening process to identify detainees that may require special attention such as children and the disabled. Many of these recommendations have been anticipated by the government and appropriate action taken.