Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his New Zealand counterpart John Key at the news conference they gave in Auckland last week.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expects the investigations into the murders of journalists Lasantha Wickremetunga (on January 8 2009) and Prageeth Ekneligoda (on January 24, 2010) and national ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen (on May 17, 2012) to be completed by the end of next month.
- Senior journalist and Editor Lasantha Wickremetunga was killed while he was on his way to work on January 8 2009, by four armed assassins riding motorcycles.
- Prageeth Ekneligoda a political cartoonist went missing on January 24, 2010 and is yet to be found. He is widely believed to have been abducted and killed by Mahinda’s Government forces who were abducting and killing any one who opposed the Rajapaksha family rule with the famous ”White Van” run by the Government forces.
- Wasim Thajudeen , who represented the country at rugby with distinction, died on May 17, 2012. It, was then pronounced to be death due to a car crash. But is currently being investigated as a murder, the Rajapaksha’s sons and the government forces are being investigated for involvement in killing.
These investigations were slowed down due to influence and pressure from Rajapaksha family and the public do not believe that any one will be charged and punished in the courts due to involvement of Government forces who took orders from the Rajapaksha’s who ruled the country at that time.
Responding to questions from the New Zealand media on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka , the Prime Minister said that the government led by President Maithripala Sirisena had taken a number of measures to re-establish law and order and good governance, which had deteriorated rapidly during the previous Rajapaksa regime.
Prime Minister John Key while acknowledging the strengthening of democratic institutions in Sri Lanka, said that there was room for improvement.
Ranil said that among the measures taken, was the establishment of a Missing Persons Commission (OMP) to trace the whereabouts of those who had gone missing or disappeared during the three decade old war between government forces and the LTTE,which ended on May 19 , 2009. UN has said that more than 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the government forces in May 2009 alone.
More than 1000 LTTE Leaders with their family members surrendered with White Flags after UN negotiated the surrender, but all were killed by the Sri Lankan forces after they were taken to Army camps. The current government is silent on the killing of these LTTE leaders who surrendered with White Flag and refuses to take any action against the Army commanders as they took orders from the Rajapaksha.
The OMP, established by Parliament on a proposal by Premier Wickremesinghe is an independent office with seven members appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. The members of the OMP are expected to be independent individuals with expertise on human rights, international humanitarian law, humanitarian issues and fact-finding among other areas. There is also a fixed term of three years and limitation of two terms per member. Its office is headquartered in Colombo, with the option of having field offices.
The OMP is mandated to trace, search and investigate into complaints brought before it, on cases of both the missing and disappeared. It also has the discretion to establish other units or divisions, ensuring that the office is able to obtain the necessary expertise and technical assistance required to investigate cases spanning decades.