Court directs Colombo to grant permission to camp visit by MPs

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 June 2009, 03:28 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Supreme Court directed the State Counsel to seek permission from the Defence Secretary to grant permission to Members of Parliament to visit the camps occupied by the internally displaced persons in a Fundamental Rights petition filed by members of SL Parliament. The petitioner MPs said that they had sought permission from the relevant authorities to visit the IDP camps and the hospitals in Mannaar, Vavuniyaa and other places that house the civilians who had fled the war zone and surrendered to the Sri Lankan forces, but permission has not been granted.

The five opposition members  Jayalath Jayawardena MP, Lakshman Seneviratne MP, Mangala Samaraweera MP , Mohamed Thambi Hasen Ali MP, Mano Ganeshan MP cited Attorney General, Gotabaya Rajapaksa Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Major General W.P.P.Fernando Military Liaison Officer for Secretary, as respondents.

The petitioners state that there are no specific Emergency regulations restricting the access of members of Parliament to IDP camps, and therefore restrictions if any are unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The petitioners said that there are more than 200,000 civilians internally displaced due to the hostilities between the rebels and the Sri Lankan forces.

The petitioners claim that their only reason to visit the camps are to see to the welfare of the IDP's and if there is a possibility to help the Government to facilitate the process of improving their lifestyle and their needs. They also said that permission to Foreign Missions and delegates and also members of the ruling party had been granted permission to visit these camps.

The Supreme Court was of the view that some organisations who were granted permission had visited these camps and had instead of granting relief and harmony had created chaos, and that is the reason the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence had taken the stance to restrict the people from visiting these camps.

Counsel for the petitioners J.C. Weliamuna said that the only reason for the visit is to see to the betterment of the IDP's and to help in the process and support the Government in their effort.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justices J Balapatabendi and Chitra Ekanayake directed the DSG Demuni de Silva to seek permission from the Defence to grant permission to allow the Ministers to visit the camps. Petitioners said that if permission is granted  before the next hearing September 27th they will withdraw this application.

 

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