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Monday, May 20, 2024

Sri Lanka: Anti Corruption Drive Derailed ?

(Rajapaksa will go scot-free as no charges has been bought against him so far)
Local and international press has started to question whether the anti-Corruption drive of the present government is being derailed. Inspector General of Police and Attorney General has come under continued criticism form the web media which has been strongest backers of the anti-Rajapaksa opposition coalition during the recent elections.

The respected web site  The Diplomat    published a oped titled ‘What’s the Deal with Sri Lanka’s Corruption Investigations?’ recently.

It poses the questions that ‘Sri Lanka’s government has been talking big about transitional justice, but are corruption investigations floundering? Are Sri Lanka’s ongoing corruption investigations on a road to nowhere?’

The article fellows:

The new government’s incipient steps towards transitional justice have received significant attention in recent weeks. Yet it’s important to keep in mind that widespread corruption was a serious problem during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure and a hot topic during the presidential election last January. On the one hand, complex financial fraud investigations may take time. Yet we’re not necessarily talking exclusively about complex cases.

A leading Sri Lankan weekly has recently published a strong editorial about the current state of affairs. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

Forget punishment. We are not even seeing indictments! The law enforcement agencies are busy trading allegations of incompetence. It is a race to the bottom. The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, is in deep sleep. When the Commission is asked about investigations it hides behind a secrecy clause, but in fact, the Commission is non-functional. It is functus officio with no authority or legal efficacy. We see law enforcement authorities trading allegations for the incompetence. The endless stream of self-righteous politicians that marched through its gates for the press cameras, carrying stacks of files, has dried up.

Much has already been written about the Rajapaksa administration’s dubious use of American lobbying organizations, though plenty of information remains shrouded in ambiguity – something that’s noted in the abovementioned editorial. Furthermore, Sirisena assumed office nine months ago. Thus far, there have been only a few indictments. While clearly not a shock, this has disappointed Ruki Fernando, a prominent human rights activist. Quite a bit “more has to be and could have been done,” he says.

Jehan Perera, executive director of the Colombo-based National Peace Council is also not surprised that there have been so few indictments. “There is an impression that deals are being struck. This is a period of transition. So we cannot expect what we hope for,” he mentions.

Corruption has been a longstanding problem in Sri Lanka and this is something to watch closely in the months ahead. Are we witnessing a post-Rajapaksa era where things have truly begun to change? Perhaps it really is too early to tell.

“It will take time for the system to work,” says Perera.

Lanka News Web a London based Sri Lanka website published the fallowing article on 9th Oct.

‘AG, IGP should be sent home if the corrupt are to be punished honestly’

Activists who shouldered the task of bringing the ‘Yaha Paalana’ government to power say the immediate removal of the attorney general and the IGP is the first precondition the government should fulfill if it has an honest desire to punish the corrupt of the previous Rajapaks regime.

Explaining, a social activist told ‘Lanka News Web’ that the AG and the IGP were intentionally protecting the corrupt.

He pointed out that it was AG Yuvanjan Wijetilake who thwarted the FCID move to remand former president’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga and ex-DG of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Anusha Pelpita over the accusation of misuse of public property through a distribution of ‘Sil’ material during the presidential election campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The FCID was to produce the two before the magistrate’s court today and remanded, but the AG produced them yesterday before the magistrate’s court and released them on lenient bail conditions in a clear act of conspiracy, the civil society activists stress. The AG also abused his office and powers by producing the accused before courts and ensured bail for them, a day before the FCID was to file charges and obtain an arrest warrant, they point out.

Also, AG has intentionally abused his office by delaying legal action against persons like Tiran Alles and Sarath Abrew, they say.

N.K. Illangakoon, who remains as the IGP for more than four years now, has tarnished the dignity of his position on several occasions, according to them. He, together with the AG, had swept under the carpet the complaint by foreign affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera about a conspiracy attempt. Therefore, as long as these two remain in office, it will only be a daydream to punish the corrupt, civil society activists point out, demanding that both should be sent home immediately.


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