14 April, 2024


Chairman And Commissioner Go Head To Head At Human Rights Commission SL

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has recently been beset by divisions and internal battles between Human Rights Commissioner Prathiba Mahanama and the Commission Chairman and former judge, Priyantha Perera, Colombo Telegraph learns.

Justice Priyantha Perera

Dr. Mahanama who is also a lawyer and an academic continues to make statements and give media interviews on behalf of the Human Rights Commission without consultation with Chairman Perera or other members of the board. Irked at Mahanama’s conduct, the HRC Chairman has appointed Nimal Punchihewa as spokesman for the Commission. Punchihewa also functions as Chairman of the Land Reforms Commission that has legal authority to distribute state land.

Mahanama has reportedly challenged Punchihewa’s appointment on the grounds that there was no legal provision in the HRC Act to appoint spokesman. Nimal Punchihewa is a close associate of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and hails from the same area down south.

Additionally Punchihewa has also been appointed Secretary Legal, although no such position exists in the HRC Act or the cadre, while there is a permanent Secretary in the HRC. Chairman of the HRC Priyantha Perera is eager to secure another term in office through the good offices of Punchihewa, sources close to the HRC Board claim.

Meanwhile, the HRC announced last week that it would conduct a full scale inquiry into the military shooting at Ratupaswela. However, after hundreds of victims and journalists have indicated their willingness to come forward, the HRC suddenly dropped the inquiry.

It is believed that President Rajapaksa had sent a warning to HRC Chairman Perera, through Punchihewa, that the Commission should not do anything that would embarrass the Government or the Rajapaksa administration.

The Human Rights Commission has been provided extensive capacity building and training by the Commonwealth Secretariat recently in a bid to showcase Sri Lanka in a better light from a human rights perspective ahead of the CHOGM 2013. The HRC’s courageous decision to hold an inquiry into the Weliweriya violence was considered to be the result of some of these measures to strengthen the country’s human rights protection arm.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    HRC should not forget what happened to Shirani B. How dare the HRC embarass the great helmsman MR?

    • 0

      Civil society and the families of the Weliveriay victims and joint opposition should ask for an international investigation in one voice.

      The Army which is the perpetrator of the Massacre at Weliveriya with a long record of Human rights violations can NOT investigate itself – this is obvious. The military must be HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS EXCESSES by an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION to stop the rot and Gota’s plant to construct a DEEP STATE or state within a state form of military dictatorship in Lanka. GOTA the GOON is constructing a DEEP STATE and the judiciary is also complicit in the state of impunity and immunity provided to military excesses and land grabs.

      The Human Rights Commission should have conducted the inquiry but the head is regime stooge and dropped the inquiry.
      The Amy Report should be submitted to the HRC which should be in charge of the LARGER INVESTIGATION into the killings. If this does not happen civil society and the victims and joint opposition should ask for an international investigation in one voice.
      Perhaps the Commonwealth of Nations that claims to be helping SL on Human Rights can conduct the independent investigation and Do something for the PEOPLE rather than merely supporting the MILITARY DICTATOR of Sri Lanka. And hope the clown Sharma won’t suppress the report!

  • 0

    The Rajapaksa brothers are able to intimidate anyone and everyone who might incriminate them in illegal, immoral and criminal activities. Their dirty fingers are everywhere. Who is Rajapaksa serving? He is serving his family and friends and will hold onto power even if he had to kill people who ask for even their basic human needs. The family are a curse for the country.

  • 0

    HRC is now a department under the President. HRC today means Hidden Rajapakse Commission.

  • 0

    All the qualifications, capacity building and training of these people are in vain because they are unable to carry out even a simple inquiry into an incident that has provoked national and international condemnation. What a shame.

    It would be better if they resign en masse in protest than get paid for doing nothing. So much for the professional integrity and honesty of our public officials.

  • 0

    The Commonwealth are a bunch of suckers in the hands of our Thug master. Their capacity building is no than a loud fart in the eyes of the thug master who can take the money and laugh in their faces.

  • 0

    Nimal Punchihewa knows the tunes of our politicians very well. That’s how he survives in the HRCSL for a long time !!?

    The 17th amendment to the constitution replaced by the 18th amendment, made democracy a joke in Sri Lanka and proved Mahinda’s third world bureaucratic quality.The government in this instance showed the basic mindset that underpins all political life in Sri Lanka today.

    The government’s argument on the 17th Amendment was that it was good piece of legislation but that there were some defects in it. To cure the defects, the government killed the amendment itself; very much like cutting off the arm to save a finger.

    In fact, the real problem of the 17th Amendment from the government’s viewpoint was that it tried to impose limitations on the power of executive president. The limitations were on his powers to appoint whomever he wished to important positions in the civil service.

    The government did not agree with having any such limitations and did not wish to debate them. The government made the decision to kill off the amendment unilaterally and created some pretexts for doing so.

    I still recall the silly explanation given by the former Attorney General Mohan Pieris during the 18th session of the UNHRC in Geneva. When confronted by the US representative with regards to the independence of the HRCSL Commissioners. The President of SL appoints the commissioners, after that they can act independently – claimed Mr.Pieris, resulting a burst of laugh in the Council.

    In 2008,HRCSL was demoted to the rank of a spectator from the top position ”A” by the ICC (UN International Coordinating Committee for the promotion of national human rights institutions – in Geneva.)

    This is being considered as a biggest achievement by the Human Rights champion MR !!?

    The most number of cases received by the Commission were and are against the police and armed forces. The HRCSL under the 17th amendment has been a real threat to the indecent police force and to the likes.

    Now MR has the former Police Chief Mr.Anandarajah in the HRCSL as a Commissioner….!!? How do you feel…friends, Sri Lankan and country men !!?

    Now MR has

  • 0

    This is how the Dictator runs the country after placing spies in all institutions in the country.

    These spies make sure to supress everybody who stand up for truth, justice, democracy and freedom.

    It is time for a united organization be formed to work direct with the International community, while educating the public on their constitutional rights.

    Time to wake up before Dictator start feeding the Citizens with “Punnakku”…..coconut dust, Grass and Bullets.

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