|The influence of the second rate|
|Thursday, 17 July 2008|
by: Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
The Peace Secretariat views with concern the recent statement by the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum regarding the work of the Commission of Inquiry. Though some of the issues it raises are of general concern, and need to be addressed by the government, there are inconsistencies in its approach which suggest that even positive efforts by the government to deal with issues will not find favour.
For instance, it suggests that the government was responsible for the resignation of Dr. Nesiah from the Commission of Inquiry. It also criticizes the Counsel for the Security Forces for raising questions about a conflict of interest. But, having claimed that, since the CoI is only a body that carries out inquiries, such questions do not hold water, it goes on to say that ‘if there is any serious conflict of interest, it continues to be the role of the Attorney General in the CoI’.
This is ridiculous. I hasten to add that, from what I know of Dr Nesiah, he would never act improperly. However, Counsel have obligations to raise questions in the interests of their clients, and such questions must be answered. Conversely, it was not Counsel but the IIGEP that raised questions about the Attorney General’s Department, and these were answered. Dr Nesiah sadly chose to resign, having pointed out that his contract with CPA was now over, but it could be argued that the better course would have been to have resigned earlier from CPA, when CPA chose to become a party to the case.
Whereas the role of Counsel can be understood, the same cannot be said, not of the IIGEP, but rather of some of the assistants who took over the role of Eminent Persons, a role they were in no way qualified to fulfil. Recently it was reported that one of them, the most qualified admittedly of the gang that used to hang around in Sri Lanka, seemed to be acting in the interests of ACF by insisting on delays because the ACF lawyer, a hitherto unknown quantity as far as the COI was concerned, was not present.
Indeed, it was the antics of the Assistants that again precipitated the postponement of video conferencing. This time it was the most savage of them, whose alleged association with LTTE supporters has also been written about. He was believed (caught on video, it is alleged) to have interfered with a witness being examined, and in the absence of proper safeguards it clearly made sense for the practice to be suspended until proper procedures were in place.
In this case SLDF grants that such evidence ‘can be vulnerable to undue influence and corruption’ but blames the government for taking the decision to suspend it, and says it should have been left to the COI. But when the COI rebuts the IIGEP allegations against the Attorney General’s Department, this is ignored. Indeed, on one occasion the IIGEP assistants published their critique on its own, without the rebuttal, contrary to the IIGEP terms of reference, claiming that because they were not sent the COI rebuttal (it had gone instead to IIGEP members), they were entitled to proceed on the assumption that the COI had failed to respond.
The bias of the Assistants was also clear to the Peace Secretariat, when they tried to stymie our work to promote Witness Protection. One of the Assistants had the effrontery to write to the Commission to object. Indeed, the history of this little group, and their associates in the lower levels of what is termed the international community, shows what damage can be caused by individuals dressed in brief authority because of the prestige of the institutions they represent.
For instance it was a close associate of the assistants, Rory Mungoven who, whilst supposed to be Senior Human Rights Adviser in Sri Lanka, did nothing to help in this area despite requests, who did not use funds available to provide UN volunteers to Human Rights Commission Regional Offices whilst later claiming that donors were unwilling to fund, who presided over what the HRC claims was a reversal of a decision to assist with backlog clearance, and who failed despite his responsibilities to ensure that the UNDP sponsored Stocktaking Report on the Human Rights Commission came to the attention of the Head of Capacity Building of the Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In short, a small set of strategically placed assistants seem to have worked together overtime in 2007 to undermine both the Commission of Inquiry and the national Human Rights Commission. Fortunately, because of more responsible leaders now at the institutions some of these underlings virtually ran, there is greater mutual confidence between government and the international community, and aid and assistance can once more be a partnership rather than a patron-client relationship. In that context the government has an even greater obligation to pursue truth – not “truth” in inverted commas as SLDF puts it, the perversions that the savages of this world try to perpetuate.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|