Commissioner of the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr Prathibha Mahanamahewam has now started to campaign for Human Rights in Sri Lanka. He was appointed by the former President Rajapaksa under the 18th amendment. Under Rajapaksa rule he was white washing all HR violations of the regime. He was aslo appointed as a director of the Kothalawala Defence Academy, which was controlled by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Speaking to Sunday Leader he has said that ‘even the previous government carried out thorough investigations into complaints they received related to human rights violations.’
Further he ha s said that 100 day programme promises to introduce the Right to Information and Witness and Victim Protection Bills which is conducive toward improving human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
He goes further and crtitisie the 100 days programme not having a HR approch.!
He says that ‘the HRCSL right now is that the100 day programme does not include a provision to establish a system to protect and promote human rights. He added that even in certain other countries like the USA, New Zealand, there have been promises during elections to implement programmes similar to the 100 day programme – but for that purpose there need to be a proper system and the HRCSL will intervene to establish that system. He also pointed out there are certain things that are not included in the 100 day programme that are important in terms of human rights such as the national inquiry into violations of human rights.’
“Any government is obliged to protect citizens and rights of the people. The major issue is protecting human rights which need to be strengthened in our country,” he has said.
HRCSL which never said a word on the estrictions brought upon some NGO and civil society activities through the NGO Secretariat circular, now wants it to be withdrawn. “Last week we had a meeting with civil society activists. Their first request was to look into this circular which is hampering their freedom of speech. We have given lot of consideration to that request and we expect to inquire the relevant parties and give our recommendations to withdraw the circular,” Mahanamahewa has added.
Futher more he wanted to change the Prevention of Terrorism Act as well: “We have to make sure that international human rights and humanitarian laws are protected in the PTA. I think it is the time for us to see the amendments to PTA Act where there is a need to look into security laws to fall in line with the standards of the Intentional Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
Mr. Mahanama even wanted to l put pressure on the new government to protect and promote human rights.
The question is why he was not so vocal under Rajapaksa regime?
Read the Sunday Leader article here