Setting up a permanent commission comprising local personalities to inquire into allegations of serious violations of human rights against the security forces and the police will be one of the main recommendations by the presidential commission that looked into serious violations of human rights, Chairman of the Commission, retired Supreme Court judge Nissanka Udalagama said.
“Sri Lanka has signed UN’s ‘Protocol on Command Responsibility’ which the Sri Lanka Parliament is still to enact making it legal within the country. If and when the UN covenant becomes law within Sri Lanka, the commanding officer of any police or armed force unit can be made accountable for a crime committed under his guard,” Chairman of the Commission retired Supreme Court Justice Nissanka Udalagama said.
One of the constraints the Commission confronted during its public hearings was the reluctance or fear of witnesses to give evidence.
A permanent commission will also address the issue of the international community’s demand to appoint an international tribune to investigate alleged war crimes during the ethnic conflict, the alleged incidents towards the tail end of the humanitarian operation in particular. All parties will be at ease if investigations are held within the country. Besides, it will not be detrimental to the sovereignty of the country.
The tenure of the Presidential Commission appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to look into serious violations of human rights expired on June 14 as its term of office was not extended.
The eight member Commission headed by Justice Udalagama was appointed in November 2007, by President Rajapaksa to investigate 16 incidents of serious violations of human rights, which took place in the year 2006 amidst mounting local and international pressure.
The Commission has completed investigations into seven cases and reports have been finalized on five cases. All the other eight cases remain un-investigated, Justice Udalagama said.
The incidents led to a huge local and international outcry and reflected badly on the human rights record of Sri Lanka that compelled President Rajapaksa to appoint the Commission.
The Commission was subjected to the scrutiny of the international community since an ‘International Independent Group of Eminent Persons’ (IIGEP) was in Sri Lanka representing a number of western countries to observe the proceedings of the public inquiries held at the BMICH.
“A permanent commission to investigate serious violations of human rights can act as a deterrent. Since the appointment of this commission, there have been no allegations of serious crimes against the police or armed forces, Justice Udalagama emphasized.
The Commission has recommended compensation to be paid by the state to the next of kin of the victims of human rights violations which the Commission has concluded inquiries. The reports and recommendations of the seven cases on which investigations have been concluded will be handed over to President Rajapaksa shortly, Justice Udalagama added.
[Daily Mirror – 22 June, 2009 / By Sandun A. Jayasekera]
NB – The issue is not of having another permanent commission to investigate HR violations. The issue is activating the present HR Commission to be totally independent. This is related to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution this Rajapaksa regime has violated altogether in appointing its own people to independent commissions. This 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which needs to be strengthened, requires a Constitutional Council (CC) to be established. It is the CC hat would thereafter establish the independent commissions. Such independent commissions would be only responsible to the parliament and not to politically charged ministers or the President.
Another permanent commission would again be another commission by the same President who continues to violate the Constitution in appointing his own people to independent commissions.
We wish those who would comment on HR violations, would also take note of this Constitutional violation too as a major aspect of the SL crisis situation.