The Government is unlikely to present the interim report, compiled by the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons (PCICRMP), at next month’s session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Speaking to The Nation, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said the question of presenting the interim report to the UNHRC would not arise as the United States had already pledged to introduce a resolution in support of Sri Lanka and a domestic mechanism of inquiry into alleged war crimes. “Therefore the implication of introducing an international mechanism will not arise”.
During her official visit to the island last week, US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal, disclosed to the media that her country would sponsor a resolution backing Sri Lanka’s efforts to conduct a domestic probe.
There had been calls on the government to present the interim report to the UNHRC to counter allegations leveled at the Government of Sri Lanka and its armed forces by the pro-LTTE lobby.
However, Rajapakshe said the report would ‘probably’ be presented to the domestic investigation mechanism that will be put in place.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama said the commission has finalized its second interim report, but was yet to present it to President Maithripala Sirisena.
However, certain media reports had earlier indicated that the interim report would be handed over to the President on August 28 (Friday). Paranagama said these media reports were incorrect.
“The report is complete, but we are still waiting for an appointment with the President to hand it over,” he said. However, Paranagama added he expected the report to be handed over to the President in the near future.
The commission’s first interim report was handed over to the President in April. Paranagama noted some recommendations contained in it have already been implemented by the government. For example, the government has already appointed a six-member Special Investigations Team to aid the commission’s work. The appointment of such a team was a recommendation included in the commission’s first interim report. “They have already commenced investigations and we can work even more energetically now with their assistance,” he observed.
In its first interim report released in April, the commission found that the LTTE was responsible for 60 percent of the forced disappearances in the North while the security forces were responsible for 30 percent. Various other armed groups had been responsible for the other 10 percent. For its second mandate, the commission was advised by a special Advisory Council of foreign experts headed by Sir Desmond De Silva. However, the Advisory Council’s mandate was not extended by the new government.
The three-member Commission, headed by its Chairman Maxwell Paranagama and Commissioners Mano Ramanathan and Suranjana Vidyaratna, has also held public sittings in the North and East. The most recent of these public sittings was held in Batticaloa from August 22 to 25. According to the commission’s website, since the appointment of the commission on August 15, 2013, it has up to date received in excess of 21,826 complaints inclusive of approximately 5000 complaints from relatives of missing security forces personnel.
Pro-LTTE faction’s ‘genocide narrative’
Writing to the Colombo Telegraph, political analyst, Chris Dharmakirti noted that the Paranagama Commission was set up as a countervailing force against the strongly pro-LTTE Darusman Report, adding that the chief players in the Commission, including Sir Desmond de Silva QC and Professor David Crane, are recognized and well respected as chief prosecutors in international criminal tribunals. As such moves made to rescind Sir Desmond’s appointment by certain representatives of civil society, primarily by a Non-Governmental Organisation, the Sri Lanka Campaign for Justice and Peace (which envisions a separate state in the country and which is paneled by Yasmin Sooka, who was on the Darusman Panel) should be viewed as a drive to weed out Paranagama’s Report in favor of what Dharmakirti refers to as the pro-LTTE faction’s “genocide narrative”.