IIGEP: Games they play!

The several public statements made by the IIGEP and their individual members thereof culminating with their "Public Statement" dated the 15th April 2008 are made with the following objectives:-

(a) to create a climate locally and internationally to discredit national institutions especially the Attorney General and his Department and to present Sri Lanka as a state without law and order

(b) to establish an intimidating environment so as to force and compel the Commissioners to reach a finding against the security forces and their superior officers and absolve the LTTE of any wrongdoing

(c) to set a stage for a prosecutor to emerge who will perform the rituals as desired by the IIGEP, in presenting prejudicial evidence against the armed forces and covering the tracks of the LTTE and their allies both local and foreign.

Furthermore the IIGEPs have displayed their lack of "independence" and displayed their arrogance [in an interview given by the "Eminent Person" Judge Jean Pierre Cot of France published in the Daily Mirror of 29.3.08 wherein he states that "if the Government is now seeking to invite a new IIGEP"] and thereupon advises the Government to "get some magistrates from different South East Asian Countries, or police officers who are not eminent persons.…" In their exhibited arrogance of mocking the region of South East Asia, these allegedly "Independent" and "Eminent" persons clearly expected us "natives", including the Government and the Commission to pay homage to them and obey their every whim and fancy. Since this did not happen they departed making wild accusations and ventilating their anger at every possible target. It is good lesson for our Government not to grant eminence to such purported "eminent persons" who disgrace our country by acting outside their mandate. This is the obvious consequence of foreign interventions and the government is now made to look stupid when they blow hot and cold against such so called human rights tourists to whom they once rolled out the red carpet.

These IIGEPs have come to Sri Lanka with `minds’ filled with gross prejudice against our Country and our Government possibly at the instigation of some NGOs and INGOs, and therefore acquired a settled `opinion’ arrived at arbitrarily, that our Security Forces must be found guilty of the several acts of murder which are the subject matter of the inquiries pending before the Commission, regardless of the evidence. Their mandate does not give them the right of making public statements on the affairs of the Commission and such related matters of the Commission. Their rights are limited to reporting to the HE the President, the President of the Commission and to notify the Attorney General. No more. However acting outside the warrant issued, they have sought to make public declarations to humiliate, expressly or impliedly, the aforesaid reporting authorities and more so prime national establishments

The four `public statements’ made by the IIGEP which had no mandate to make, but made, are, ex facie severely damaging to the Government, the Security Forces and their counsel, were obviously timed to coincide with meetings of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and were clearly designed to create an international climate of opinion hostile to the Sri Lanka in general and the Security Forces in particular, so as to intimidate the Commission into arriving at findings against the Security Forces even in the absence of any credible evidence which establishes their guilt, with the implicit threat of their issuing further public statements saying "We told you so" in the event of their not arriving at such findings against the Security Forces or arriving at findings against anyone else including the LTTE.

While we do hope that the Commission would not succumb to such blatant and insidious attempts at intimidation,, we placed relevant objections openly before the Commission so they do not succumb to such endeavors. They are as follows:-

a) When Mr S L Gunasekara who appeared for the STF was cross-examining the witness Ponnudorai Yogarajah who was giving evidence from some foreign country through video conferencing on the 19th March 2008, [in the Trincomalee Case], one Savage, an Assistant of the IIGEP who was in that foreign Country had the audacity to take the witness away while he was being questioned without the leave of the Commission with the peremptory statement "I am concerned about the witness so have adjournment (sic) this witness is not fit to go on thank you", thereby impeding the cross-examination and publicly showing utter contempt for the Commission in the course of the hearing while it was the Commission and the Commission alone which had the authority to decide whether the witness was not fit to go on, particularly since the witness himself did not say so. The Commission, however, did nothing: it did not even reprimand Savage.

b) When the cross examination of the witness was resumed on the next day, another Assistant, one Milner, who was also in that foreign Country, displayed even greater contempt for the Commission and impeded the cross-examination further by arrogantly usurping the authority of the Commission displaying a pronounced "culture of impunity" by having the insolence to purport to determine that some questions Mr Gunasekara asked were irrelevant and/or inadmissible and directing the witness not to answer them, although it was the Commission and only the Commission that had the authority to make any such determination and/or disallow any question Once again, the Commission did nothing and did not even reprimand Milner. This conduct of Milner was all the more reprehensible and the passivity of the Commission all the more disquietening when one considers the fact that, none of the questions which Milner purported to over-rule had been objected to by Mr Ranjit Abeysuriya P.C. who led the evidence of the witness.

c) The following week Mr Gomin Dayasri who was appearing for the Army in the the Muttur Case objected to Commissioner D Nesiah participating as a member of the Commission in the Muttur case because of his close nexus to an NGO named the Centre for Policy Alternatives and had given the Commission the address, telephone and facsimile numbers of that NGO as being his address, telephone and facsimile numbers and was described as a core staff member holding the designation of consultant while the said NGO was granted representation as a interested party by Counsel and was participating in the inquiry in such capacity. The identical objection was taken by Mr Gunasekara a day or two later in the Trincomalee case. The IIGEP who show great anxiety to maintain the purity of the proceedings has selected to remain silent .Surely, the principles of natural justice are known to them?

d) When Mr Gomin Dayasri was cross-examining witness R. Perera a senior officer of ACF in the Muttur Case and had elicited from him, the most material and useful evidence that the murdered Aid Workers of ACF had told him they were scared of the LTTE who were all around the ACF office. However the Commission compelled only him to cut short his cross-examination, which limitation was not directed to any other counsel of any other party who were given all the time so desired. When Mr Dayasri complained of discriminatory practice against him only on time restrictions; one Commissioner accused Mr Dayasri of repeating the same questions(correctness of which allegation Mr Dayasri challenged instantly, at which time, no material was presented to substantiate the allegation made by the Commissioner and the said Commissioner remained silent)The said Commissioner did not level any such accusation at Mr Abeysuriya PC who continually repeated the same questions in the Trincomalee case.

The accusation leveled ad nauseam by the IIGEP against the Attorney General and the officers of that Department that they are disqualified from assisting the Commission on the ground of an alleged conflict of interest is unsupported by an iota of evidence. Although the Commission has functioned with officers of the Attorney General’s Department assisting it for over one year, the IIGEP has been unable to point to even one act that those officers or any of them have committed that they ought not to have committed or to one act which ought to have been committed that they or any of them have failed to commit. Accordingly, the irresistible conclusion that arises is that they have made the said accusations on nothing more `substantial’ than blind prejudice.

What should be, but is not even more strange, but confirms that prejudice beyond doubt is the fact that the IIGEP which never ceases to protest against the non-existent conflict of interest of the Attorney General and his officers, has maintained a deafening silence about the manifest conflict of interest of Dr Nesiah of which there is ample evidence, and the incredible fact of his continuing to be a judge in his own cause as stated above which is against all norms and standards of conduct in our Country. Whether or not the "International Norms and Standards" referred to by the IIGEP reach up to ours in respect of this matter we do not know.

Continued tomorrow

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