Commission of Inquiry appointed to look into alleged human rights & IHL violations
January 22, 2021 08:48 am
A three-member Commission of Inquiry (CoI) has been appointed to investigate, inquire into and report or take necessary actions on findings of preceding commissions or committees on alleged human rights violations, serious violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other such offences in Sri Lanka.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed the committee through an extraordinary gazette notification published on Thursday (January 21).
The commission, chaired by Supreme Court Judge A.H.M.D. Nawaz, consists of retired IGP Chandra Fernando and retired District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri.
Commissioners are tasked with,
• Finding out whether preceding commissions of inquiry and committees which were appointed into human rights violations have revealed any human rights violations, serious violations of international humanitarian law and other such serious offences;
• Identifying what are the findings of the said Commissions and Committees related to the serious violations of human rights, serious violations of international humanitarian laws and other such offences and whether recommendations have been made on how to deal with the said facts;
• Looking into the manner in which those recommendations have been implemented so far in terms of the existing law and what steps need to be taken to implement those recommendations further in line with the present Government policy;
• Overseeing if necessary action is being taken.
They are authorized to conduct investigations and inquiries and to transmit the interim reports to the President when necessary.
President Rajapaksa has directed the commission to submit the final report with its investigations, inquiries and recommendations within a period of six months.
The appointments came weeks before the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council which is scheduled to be held from 22 February to 19 March 2021.
Gazette notification stated that although a decision was taken by Sri Lanka to withdraw from co-sponsorship of 40/1 Resolution in March 2019 on Reconciliation, Accountability and Promotion of Human Rights in Sri Lanka and its preceding resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017 – which was announced at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council held on 26th and 27th of February 2020, the policy of the Government is to continue to work with the United Nations and its agencies to achieve accountability and human resource development for achieving sustainable peace and reconciliation.
Sri Lanka is committed to ensure that other issues remain to be resolved through democratic and legal processes and to make institutional reforms where necessary to ensure justice and reconciliation, it read further.
“It has been identified as a fundamental requirement to pursue a non-aligned foreign policy that protects the sovereignty of Sri Lanka in achieving the objectives stated in the Government Policy Statement.”
As the preceding Commissions of Inquiry and Committees have reported that certain human rights-related and other offences had taken place and have made various recommendations, the President decided to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into and report or take necessary action in this regard.