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Scepticism Over Latest Probe

Analysts fear three experts advice may end like IIEGP

By Easaran !"tnam#Sunday, July 20, 2014
Sir $esmond de Silva% Prof $avid &rane and Sir Geoffrey 'ice
(he Government anno"ncement last eek
that the mandate of the Presidential &ommission on missin) persons had been
expanded to investi)ate civilian deaths d"rin) the ar and the appointment of three
internationally acclaimed experts to advice the commission came as a s"rprise to
many* Some fear if the advice of the three prominent experts are hi)hly critical then
they may +"st end "p in the bin like the International Independent Eminent Gro"p of
Persons ,IIEGP- in .//0*
IIEGP% hich as appointed by the Government% had terminated their observations
from the Presidential &ommission of In1"iry oin) to hat it said as the lack of
political ill on the part of the Government to s"pport a search for tr"th*
(he 2ission Persons &ommission has no been tasked ith investi)atin) and
reportin) on the principal facts and circ"mstances that led to the loss of civilian life
d"rin) the internal armed conflict that ended on 2ay 34% .//4% and hether any
person% )ro"p or instit"tion directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this re)ard by
reason of a violation or violations of International 5"manitarian La or International
5"man !i)hts La*
(he &ommission ill also investi)ate if s"ch loss of civilian life is capable of
constit"tin) collateral dama)e of a kind that occ"rs in the prosec"tion of proportionate
attacks a)ainst tar)eted military ob+ectives in armed conflicts and is expressly
reco)ni6ed "nder the las of armed conflict and international h"manitarian la% and
hether s"ch civilian cas"alties ere either the deliberate or "nintended conse1"ence
of the r"les of en)a)ement d"rin) the said armed conflict in Sri Lanka*
President 2ahinda !a+apaksa named Sir $esmond de Silva% 7& ,&hairman-% Sir
Geoffrey 'ice% 7& and Prof $avid &rane as the three experts to advice the
(he experts ill serve on an Advisory &o"ncil to the &ommission of In1"iry to hich
the President says he may appoint other experts as may be re1"ired from time to time%
to advise the &hairman and 2embers of the &ommission of In1"iry% at their re1"est%
on matters pertainin) to the ork of the &ommission*
Sir $esmond has developed a vast experience before international criminal trib"nals
in relation to the )ravest of international crimes hile Sir Geoffrey 'ice led the
prosec"tion in the trial of Slobodan 2ilosevic at the international trib"nal for the
former 8")oslavia in (he 5a)"e*
(he 'e 8ork based 5"man !i)hts 9atch said that it as ironic that for to years%
hen 5"man !i)hts &o"ncil resol"tions of ./3. and ./3: called on the )overnment of
Sri Lanka to ens"re a domestic process of +"stice and acco"ntability and seek
international expertise here necessary% all that &olombo did as condemn attempts
to "ndermine its soverei)nty* 'o that an international investi)ation has be)"n% the
)overnment is anno"ncin) these meas"res*
Every attempt toards +"stice for victims of ar crimes and violations of
International 5"man !i)hts La is elcome% as lon) as there is an honest process to
identify and prosec"te perpetrators% ens"re proper reparations* As yet% )overnment
actions and statements% hich have so")ht to "ndermine and threaten activists and
victims% do not inspire confidence that there is )en"ine commitment to
acco"ntability%; the So"th Asia director for 5"man !i)hts 9atch% 2eenakshi Gan)"ly%
told (he S"nday Leader*
(he Government has already played don the appointment of three experts to advice
the Presidential &ommission on missin) persons% ith 2edia 2inister <eheliya
!amb"kella sayin) it ill be "p to the Government to decide if to accept or re+ect any
!espondin) to 1"estions posed at the post cabinet press briefin) on (h"rsday%
2inister <eheliya !amb"kella said that the Government ill decide hat advice
m"st be accepted and implemented*
Advice is an advice* It ill be "p to "s hat to implement%; he said*
In a Ga6ette notification% Presidents Secretary Lalith 9eerat"n)a said that the
President is of the opinion that the &ommission of In1"iry sho"ld have the benefit of
the advice of distin)"ished international experts% hose internationally reco)nised
expertise and experience encompasses le)al and other relevant dimensions of the
matters covered in the mandate*
(he appointment of the experts and expandin) of the mandate of the &ommission on
disappearances comes after the Office of the 5i)h &ommissioner for 5"man !i)hts
,O5&5!- la"nched its on investi)ation on the ar and appointed three international
experts to oversee the probe*
(he latest initiative by the Government comes on the backdrop of So"th Africa makin)
attempts to advice Sri Lanka on the (r"th and !econciliation process*
Gan)"ly from 5"man !i)hts 9atch is of the opinion if there is a )en"ine attempt to
establish the tr"th to ens"re reconciliation% it ill need to incl"de acco"ntability and
So"th Africa sho"ld insist that any process that it assists ill lead to prosec"tions for
serio"s crimes as fo"nd by the =' panel of experts report* (his effort sho"ld not be
seen as an alternative to investi)ations by O5&5! folloin) the 5"man !i)hts
&o"ncil resol"tion%; she told (he S"nday Leader*
(he So"th African initiative is bein) handled by $ep"ty So"th African President &yril
!amaphosa% ho as in Sri Lanka recently and had talks ith the Government and the
(amil 'ational Alliance*
9hat is left to be seen no is ho some Government coalition members ill react to
the latest involvement of forei)ners in the Sri Lankan iss"e* (he 'ational >reedom
>ront ,'>>- led by 2inister 9imal 9eeraansa had d"rin) its second 'ational
&onvention proposed that no investi)ation or in1"iry sho"ld be held d"e to ?"nd"e
international infl"ence other than hat has already been initiated in accordance ith
the &onstit"tion of Sri Lanka and the national le)al system;*
(he '>> also stron)ly condemn the s"))estion made by vario"s political forces
infl"encin) the Government to hold s"ch internal investi)ations*
=S hopes probe meets international standards
(he =nited States ,=S- says it hopes the experts chosen to advise the
&ommission on 2issin) Persons can provide the assistance needed to help it
meet international standards for credibility and independence* A
spokesperson at the =S Embassy in &olombo said that the =S has lon) said it
stron)ly s"pports a credible domestic Sri Lankan process to ens"re
meanin)f"l national reconciliation and resolve o"tstandin) concerns from
the conflict% incl"din) the alle)ed h"man ri)hts violations and related crimes
by both parties*
9e elcome credible investi)ations into alle)ations of h"man ri)hts ab"ses
in Sri Lanka* (here are n"mero"s reports of idespread threats and
intimidation by sec"rity forces a)ainst itnesses and potential itnesses to
the &ommission* 9e hope the experts chosen to advise the &ommission can
provide the assistance needed to help it meet international standards for
credibility and independence%; the spokesperson said*
(he Embassy also said that it is concerned abo"t contin"ed attacks a)ainst
+o"rnalists and members of reli)io"s minorities% as ell as the eakenin) of
the r"le of la and increasin) imp"nity for ille)al actions addin) that all of
these factors "ndermine Sri Lankas pro"d democratic traditions* ?!espect
for h"man ri)hts% transparency% and democratic )overnance are all essential
for states to flo"rish in this )lobal economy* 9itho"t rob"st democracy%
reconciliation% and acco"ntability% there can be no s"stained peace and
prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka%; the =S Embassy spokesperson
added* ,E!-
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