By Saman Indrajith
UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday demanded to know from the government the complex issues that had arisen with regard to the proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances and Missing Persons, causing the need to obtain services of a panel of experts.
Making a special statement in Parliament, the Opposition Leader said: “In answer to a question asked by me under Standing Order 23(2), G L Peiris, Minister of External Affairs stated that the Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances and Missing Persons had informed the President that in view of the large numbers of representations that had been made to the Commission and the complex legal issues that have arisen as a result, that it was necessary to seek legal advice from persons especially knowledgeable in this field.
“I would like to ask the Government: What are these complex legal issues that have arisen and the relevant fields; Will those who have made representations to the Commission be informed of the complex legal issues and be given an opportunity to make representations regarding these issues; Will the Attorney-General as the principal Legal Officer of the Government also be informed of these complex legal issues, and be given an opportunity to express his views regarding the issues that have allegedly arisen.”
Minister of External Affairs Prof G.L. Peiris said that the government could not cross examine the presidential commission except providing for what they asked for. The government could only facilitate the process of the commission but could not question them why they would ask for additional resources.
Minister said that the Commission had informed the President in writing that they were investigating the complaints pertaining to the cases of missing persons and the number of cases reported to the commission was very much higher than expected and it was better if the government could provide them with the services of experts who had experience in international laws and policies with regard to the cases of missing persons. “This is an indigenous mechanism and we should strengthen it. It is our duty to help and facilitate the process of the commission. We have no right to cross examine them.”