Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sri Lankan Civil society organisations respond to story published on

16th September, Colombo, Sri Lanka: As members of the seven civil society organizations that came forward to assist the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry established by President Mahinda Rajapakse in 2006 to investigate and inquire into 16 past human rights cases, we were shocked by the story carried on the Defence Ministry website on July 26, 2009 which has maligned our involvement in this process.

Though several media groups have reported on the report, this document and its findings are yet to become public. As a party that had standing before the Commission of Inquiry and participated in its proceedings, we are disappointed that the report has yet to be shared with the affected families, their lawyers and with civil society who had standing before the Commission. Since we have not yet received the report, nor received any intimation of its contents, we are of course unable to make any comment on the story.

We have written to the Presidential Secretariat to seek clarification on the status of the report and future steps, and to find out whether the report has been submitted to the President as dictated in the Terms of Reference which established the Commission of Inquiry. We have urged the Government to table the report in Parliament and make it available to the public, and by doing so, demonstrate the sincerity of the Government to address human rights violations, find the truth and provide justice to the families who have lost their loved ones. We hope that in the event the report is indeed with the President, copies of the said report can be shared with the affected families, their lawyers and civil society organizations that had standing before the Commission of inquiry.

We regret the publication of the misleading story on the Defence Ministry website in a context in which we are unable to defend ourselves against the allegations raised in the story. It is particularly regrettable that this happens at a time when the search for justice for human rights violations in Sri Lanka has become more imperative than ever. We remain committed to challenge the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka.

Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
Mothers and Daughters of Lanka (IMADR)
Rights Now – Collective for Democracy
Sri Lanka National Commission of Jurists
Home for Human Rights (HHR)

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