Feature Article

Rights activist questions progress of CoI, IIGEP

[TamilNet, Sunday, 18 November 2007, 13:47 GMT]
The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) appointed to by the Government of Sri Lanka in response to calls for international monitoring on human rights have achieved only a limited progress in investigating 16-rights cases identified for investigations, says Bhavani Fonseka, a senior researcher at Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), and questions "if anything is possible to achieve in a situation where independence of the CoI is questioned, politicization and interference remains, [and] there is lack of progress in witness and victim protection."

Dr. Bhavani Fonseka
"The CoI and IIGEP was established in a context where there is an increase in grievous human rights violations throughout Sri Lanka and the delays and interferences experienced with inquiries resulting in a culture of impunity.

"One year after the appointment of the CoI and with an extension of another year, there is no tangible improvement in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. If at all, there is an increase in the number and nature of violations, with limited progress in investigations, indictments and convictions exacerbating the prevailing culture of impunity," Ms Fonseka says.

PDF IconCoI, IIGEP: One year on..
Questioning the conflict of interest in the role of the Attorney Generals (AG) department in the investigations, Ms Fonseka asks, "Why is the involvement of the AG’s department in relation to the investigations and inquiries beyond the consideration of the CoI? Why is there no transparency in the role of the AG’s department in the investigations and inquiries? The Warrant issued in 2006 does not preclude the CoI from examining the role of the AG’s department and therefore why has this new condition been brought at this juncture? Is this an indicator that the AG’s department is above the law and beyond the scrutiny of an independent body investigating and inquiring into 16 cases of human rights violations?"

On the delays in conducting the investigations and inquiries, Ms Fonseka points to, "The lack of transparency in internal processes, the failure to announce a detailed work plan, in recruiting essential staff and in sharing evidence and information in the possession of the government with the IIGEP as well as the non functioning of the investigative and witness protection."

Ms Fonseka says that when "there has been no public hearing to date, with limited information available to the public on the process and the progress of the investigations and inquiries," another year would make any difference, and if justice can be served to the human rights violations in question and bring respite to the victims and their loved ones?"


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External Links:
IIGEP: Terms of Reference for IIGEP
CPA: Policy brief on IIGEP
IIGEP: Public statements from IIGEP
GV: Reflections One Year On: The Commission of Inquiry and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons


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