Geneva resolution will have to be taken into consideration

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama yesterday said that the implementation of the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons was the prerogative of the government.

Paranagama, who headed the investigation, acknowledged that the government would certainly have to take into consideration the Sept. 30 Geneva resolution that dealt with accountability issues when setting up an inquiry. The retired judge was responding to a query by The Island regarding the government’s response to the report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission assisted by a team of international experts.

The Geneva resolution co-sponsored by the government proposed the participation of foreign judges in domestic judicial mechanism.

Asked whether he had been consulted on the implementation of the recommendations, Paranagama emphasized that the Commission wouldn’t under any circumstances get involved in that process. Ways and means of implementing the recommendations would be a matter for the political leadership, Paranagama said, while stressing the importance of having international backing for local judicial process by way of foreign observers as well as technical assistance.

Paranagama reiterated the commission’s call for prosecution by the Attorney General and investigations also by local authorities.

Responding to another query, Paranagama pointed out that his Commission had the blessings of the incumbent government though it had been appointed and its scope expanded during the previous administration. According to him, the public should be given an opportunity to know the Commission’s findings and recommendations. Paranagama said that the Commission was keen to know the reaction of the public.

Meanwhile, authoritative sources told The Island that the Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission was unlikely to be formally presented to either the Human Rights Commission (HRC) or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

They said: “To formally present the report to the HRC when there is no debate scheduled on the issue doesn’t make sense”.

Sources said that it wouldn’t be advisable at the moment to call for a special session to discuss the report. In case, Sri Lanka wanted to seek a special session, the government needed the backing of several member states to achieve that.

However, opposition sources said that the report on the Second Mandate as well as several other reports namely Military expert opinion by Maj. Gen. John Holmes, legal opinion by Prof. Michael Newton, review of PoE (Panel of Experts) report by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Rodney Dixon, QC, legal opinion by Sir Desmond de Silva, opinion by Prof. D.M. Crane and Sir Desmond de Silva, QC and the Advisory Council of Experts and finally legal opinion concerning the law applicable to military operations between the government and the LTTE by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Rodney Dixon, QC should be submitted to the international community.

Opposition sources stressed that the reports available with the government should be used to counter unsubstantiated allegations directed at the country.