Sandya Ekneligoda, wife of the missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, yesterday lodged a complaint with the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) with regard to a statement made by SLPP Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa on an election campaign stage in Anuradhapura.
“Gotabaya Rajapaksa on October 10 said that he will release intelligence officers and soldiers who are in custody as soon as he comes to power on November 17. This statement aroused fear in me, having shed eight years of blood and sweat for the case of my missing husband Prageeth Ekneligoda. If he does so, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is violating the rule of law and the Constitution itself,” she stated in her complaint.
However. the Human Rights Commission stated that they are unable to file case based on the complaint, since Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not connected to the Executive or the current administration of the country, as he is only a Presidential candidate.
However, Sandya Ekneligoda was requested to write a separate letter to the Human Rights Commission Chairperson requesting them to look into the matter.
Ekneligoda also stated that she was looking for the address of Gotabaya, but she could not find it, which was the cause of the delay for her to send the letter which contains three questions posed to him. As she was unable to find the address, she has taken steps to send a communiqué through social media.
In this, she poses three questions to the SLPP Presidential candidate: Will you be granting this pardon/immunity to all Armed Forces members currently in jail or is this only for a select group Forces personnel? If so, what is the basis for selection?; The case with regard to my husband is still at a preliminary stage.
Will you be granting a pardon to these officials by halting the legal process?; Will your pardon persons such as Duminda Silva as well?
She noted that any attempt to release those detained in connection with the abductions and assaults of journalists would pose a direct threat to the security of the victims and their families and would directly contravene the provisions of the law. She urged the HRCSL to intervene to ensure protection and justice for them.
She said the pledge given by Gotabaya Rajapaksa would indemnify all crimes committed by members of the Security Forces and also discourage the officers of the investigative organisations who sought justice and truth.
This would also violate Constitutionally-mandated protections available to all victims of crime.