Govt. continues to drag its feet

CaFFE points out that publicizing truths can contribute immensely to reconciliation process

The government is yet to make public key reports detailing incidents of alleged human rights violations, despite earlier pledges to do so by the end of September.

The reports are mainly the ones compiled by Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons (PCICRMP), headed by retired High Court Judge Maxwell Paranagama and the one compiled by the Presidential Commission headed by retired Justice Nissanka Udalagama.

The government made a pledge at the 30th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva to make the reports public. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told newspaper editors the reports would be made public by the end of September. However, the reports are yet to be tabled in Parliament.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government would table the two reports in Paliament at the beginning of the debate on the UNHRC resolution. The debate is set for October 20 and 21. He claimed there was a delay in printing the Sinhala and Tamil copies of the reports.

Speaking on the issue, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Centre for Human Rights and Research (CHR) Keerthi Thennakoon said he saw no reason whatsoever for the continued delay in making the reports public.

He said there was ‘some logic’ for not making the reports public during September while the UNHRC sessions were ongoing as some elements were trying to politically capitalize from the contents of the reports. “However, Geneva is now over and I cannot find a political or even logical reason to further delaying publicizing this,” he stressed.

While the Paranagama and Udalagama Commission reports were in English, Thennakoon said translation issues should not be cited as reason the for delay in making the reports public. “You can release the reports and the Sinhala and Tamil translations can be done thereafter.” He pointed out that publicizing the reports would contribute immensely to actively commence the reconciliation process, while they could also be used as base documents for the local mechanism that will be set up to investigate alleged human rights abuses.

“Thousands of people gave evidence before these commissions. More than 9000 persons gave submissions to the Paranagama Commission. We believe that all these statements were properly recorded and if that is the case, we can at least start talking about what happened, about the truth” he emphasized.

He also said the reports did not deal only with the Tamil community. “They deal with incidents that affected Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Whenever these commissions were appointed, the civil society has continually urged people to go and make submissions before them. But what’s the use of talking about reconciliation if they aren’t being made public?” he asked.

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