The National Peace Council (NPC) today called on the government to ensure past mistakes made in relation to involving international personnel in Commissions of Inquiry (CoI) do not recur with regard to the recent expansion of the scope of the CoI on Missing Persons.
Issuing a media statement today, the NPC has pointed out that there is a need to be mindful of Sri Lanka’s experience with the International Independent Eminent Group of Persons (IIEGP) that was appointed in 2007 to advise the Commission of Inquiry into Serious Human Rights Violations.
The statement highlights the abrupt decision made by the IIGEP, headed by P N Bhagwati, former Indian Chief Justice, to terminate its operations in Sri Lanka quoting the lack of a ‘minimum level of trust necessary for the success of the work of the commission and the IIGEP.’
The NPC, while welcoming the government’s effort to achieve international standards in the investigations into allegations of disappearances, has stressed on the need for those standards to be reached concurrently in dealing with issues of governance within the country presently.
“The government has been restricting the freedom of civil society groups in a manner that goes counter to international standards. Most significant of all is its failure to stand by its commitments with regard to the devolution of power,” the NPC states adding it is a grave impediment upon the reconciliation process.
They have pointed out the reconciliation process cannot run on separate tracks – with teh government promoting an enthusiastic picture on reconciliation before the international community while confrontation, antagonism and a shrinking of space for civil society and print and electronic media prevails within the country.
“The situation on the ground will be seen by all who are interested in Sri Lanka and will undermine their belief in the sincerity of the reconciliation process,” the NPC further notes.