JO claims govt. remains committed to hybrid tribunal

Full-day debate in parliament on April 6


By Shamindra Ferdinando


Having repeatedly vowed not to allow foreign judges and other experts in proposed judicial mechanism to address accountability issues, President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces had allowed the government to reiterate Sri Lanka’s commitment to Geneva Resolution 30/1 meant to bring in foreign personnel, Joint Opposition leader Dinesh Gunawardena, MP, said on Wednesday (March 29).

Addressing the media at the Dr N.M. Perera Centre, MP Gunawardena challenged yahapalana leaders to explain Section 6 of resolution 30/1 that specifically referred to a Special Counsel’s Office of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators.

Referring to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent declaration that foreign judges inclusion in a domestic mechanism is contrary to Sri Lanka’s constitution, Gunawardena said had the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration been genuine, it would have certainly taken up Section 6 with those who had co-sponsored resolution 30/1.

MP Gunawardena appreciated the government agreeing for a full day debate on Sri Lanka’s response to Geneva challenge on April 6. The MP said that the government’s failure to seek amendment to the original resolution in respect of Section 6 would be taken up.

Asserting that the commitment made in Geneva had severe repercussions on the country, the MP asserted that the government created history by co-sponsoring a resolution inimical to the country in Oct 2015 and then reiterating its commitment to the same two years later.

Gunawardena flayed Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for pursuing what he called an agenda severely inimical to the country. The JO leader accused Minister Samaraweera of violating the constitution.

The JO leader said that countries accepted such one-sided agreements only when they surrendered to foreign powers. Colombo District MP Gunawardena accused the government of bending backwards to appease Western powers. Referring to the passage of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in parliament in early August last year in accordance with resolution 30/1, MP Gunawardena emphasized that the government achieved its objective at the expense of parliamentary traditions. The government had been in an indecent hurry to secure parliamentary approval it was passed without a proper vote, Gunawardena alleged. The MEP leader compared the scene in parliament that day to that of a fish market.

MP Gunawardena also challenged the government to explain Jaffna District MP and TNA spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran recent claim that his party had received an assurance from the government in respect of the inclusion of foreign judges in domestic mechanism. The JO leader said that the government hadn’t responded to MP Sumanthiran’s call to amend the constitution to pave the way for a robust foreign participation in the process.

MP Gunawardena alleged that President Maithripala Sirisena had addressed vital issues irresponsibly while Premier Wickremesinghe simply ignored concerns expressed by the Joint Opposition.

The MP said that against the backdrop of the government meekly giving into external interventions, the national economy, too, was in deep crisis due to waste, corruption and mismanagement at every sector.

They would continue to take up issues both in and outside parliament and pressure the government over vital national issue, the JO Leader said.

Commenting on yahapalana government efforts to regain GSP plus tariff concessions from the EU, MP Gunawardena said that in spite of repeated promises, the country was yet to receive the facility. The member also alleged that the government was under pressure to accept homosexuality as a prerequisite to secure GSP plus.

The JO leader said yahapalana leaders’ stance on matters of vital national interest such as the Geneva issue wasn’t acceptable to them.

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