Victims of the recent landslides and floods along with lawyers and civil society activists will lodge a complaint and a petition at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Supreme Court respectively, citing the violation of fundamental rights, owing to the Government acting in contravention of the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act, No. 13 of 2005.
Co-Convener of the Lawyers for Good Governance, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera said that there were major issues in relation to transparancy.
The President should have declared the recent situation in places like Mawanella, Aranayake, Wellampitiya, Colombo, and Kosgama, as was previously the case in Meeriyabedda (in 2014) a national disaster, he noted, adding that a state of emergency was declared in order to aid the managing and controlling of such a situation.
Apart from defining what a disaster is (both natural and man-made), the said Act established a National Council for Disaster Management and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC). The President is the Chairman of the said Council while the Prime Minister is the Vice-Chairman. Along with the Leader of the Opposition, amongst others, there are 20 Ministers and the Chief Ministers of the Provinces in the said Council.
The Government is seeking approval for over Rs 1 billion for vehicles for Ministers at a time when people in Kosgama do not even have water to drink and even the people in Meeriyabedda are facing big problems as their situation is still the same following the aftermath of the landslides, he remarked, adding that all victims who are insured should get at least Rs 2.5 million each.
There are provisions in the law for us to file many civil cases in this regard, Perera observed.
He also noted that the present anti-corruption watchdogs were more concerned about corruption under the previous regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and were not vocal in voicing their protest or opposition against corruption of the aforementioned kind of the present Government.
“Until the tsunami in 2004, the country did not possess a mechanism to handle the large amounts of aid coming in at a time of a disaster. The infamous ‘Helping Hambantota’ case brought about the need for a law. This was the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act, No. 13 of 2005,” he said.