A group of concerned intellectuals has sent a petition to President Maithripala Sirisena urging him to take note of attempts made to belittle and marginalize the second mandate of the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, or the “Paranagama Report”. The petition points at two paragraphs in the recently released report on Sri Lanka tabled by the UNHCR and the OHCHR, which allegedly states that the UN Human Rights Council and OHCHR teams were not privy to the mandate.
Furthermore, the petition tracks the history of the Paranagama Report, identifying it as a response to calls by the international community for a probe into missing persons during the civil war, and identifies that it was omitted from the final draft of the Human Rights Council report. The group urges the president to investigate who in the Ministry for External Affairs had “advised the UNHRC to drop this reference from their report”, especially in light of the Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s announcement that the Paranagama Report would be presented to the parliament later this month.
The group then makes note of what they allege to be deliberate attempts by a local parliamentarian to skew the second mandate of the Presidential Commission by lodging a complaint against a key member in it, Sir Desmond de Silva, stating that links between the politician in question (M. A. Sumanthiran) and the alleged organization behind these moves, the Sri Lanka Campaign (the advisory panel of which includes Yasmin Sooka, who was involved with the Darusman Report).
The petition alleges that these moves were made to discredit Sir Desmond, an internationally reputed prosecutor, in front of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
The petition ends with a plea to the president to “table the report dealing with the second mandate of the Paranagama Report at the UN Human Rights Council” to all the member states of the United Nations in Geneva as well as the international media. It also urges the president himself to present the report to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Signatories to the petition include Professor Rajiva Wijesinhe, Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, V. Anandasangaree, and Tamara Kunayanakam.