20 May, 2019

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Ensure That The Cloud Of Accountability Stops Spreading 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The cloud of accountability that has dogged Sri Lanka since the end of the war has begun to spread. There was warning of this reality when the UN Human Rights Commissioner in her March 2019 report on Sri Lanka made a recommendation that the international community should utilize the principle of universal jurisdiction to bring to book members of the Sri Lankan state who had allegations of serious human rights violations against them. The High Commissioner justified this recommendation on the basis that Sri Lanka had not taken sufficient action with regard to resolving any of the emblematic human rights cases, including the assassination of former newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge. There was also a list of about twenty other cases that she listed, including ones in which there were multiple victims.

The two cases in which summons were delivered simultaneously on former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapapaksa in a parking lot of a grocery store in Los Angeles were against individuals. But it has introduced a new element of uncertainty into Sri Lanka’s already uncertain political process. There is no certainty even about the date of the election at this time. Members of President Maithripala Sirisena’s party have begun to argue that the president’s five year term ought to end only in June 2020 and not in January 2020 as previously believed. Their argument is that the president’s five year term began to run only in June 2015 when the 19th Amendment to the constitution was signed into law, and not in January 2015 when the president took his oaths of office and commenced his presidency.

Such a shift in date would be to the president’s advantage, as he would then be in a position to determine the date of the general election. The incumbent president as of February 2020 will have be vested with the power to dissolve parliament, which reaches four and a half years as of that month and can be dissolved by presidential decree. It is generally believed that holding the presidential election first would be more favourable to the government than the general election. At a presidential election the government would be able to obtain the minority ethnic and religious vote for its candidate, which would not be possible at a general election where in which the ethnic and religious minorities are more likely to vote separately for their own political parties.

Presidential Candidacy 

The cases filed against the former defense secretary also bring in a further element of uncertainty regarding his possible presidential candidacy. One of the cases concerns the unresolved murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge. Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been the front runner to be the candidate from the opposition. Not only is he a brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, but he is also widely credited with leading the military victory over the LTTE and ending the three decade long war, albeit controversially which is one of the main reasons for his controversial status amongst the ethnic minorities, in particular the Tamil minority. He is also generally seen as a person who will get the country moving. However, his position as front runner from the side of the opposition is presently under threat from the president who gives every indication of wishing to be a presidential candidate himself. While he has not still publicly committed himself to running for the presidency again, his closest political allies have made it clear that the president may wish to offer himself as a candidate from either the government or opposition side at the next presidential election.

Apart from having rival candidates who would wish to be the opposition’s chosen candidate, front runner Gotabaya Rajapaksa has faced the problem of his US dual citizenship status which would prevent him from contesting the Sri Lankan presidential election. The 19th Amendment ruled out dual citizens from holding elected political office. A member of parliament was unseated after the passage of the 19th Amendment after being proved to be a dual citizen. Mr Rajapaksa’s dual citizenship status would necessitate a renunciation of US citizenship in order to be eligible to contest the presidential elections. This would ordinarily be only an administrative issue which can be done without much delay. One local politician has been cited as saying that he was able to renounce his US citizenship in a matter of ten days.

It is in this context that the court cases filed against Mr Rajapaksa take on significance. They are likely to have a bearing upon the administrative issues regarding renunciation of citizenship. An issue of consistency and coherence within the US system of government will arise if the actions of one branch of the government lead to him getting out of the reach of the other branch. A key issue here will be whether the legal cases filed against Mr Rajapaksa are dependent on him remaining a citizen. Mr Rajapaksa has said that he would take legal measures to have the cases against him dismissed. Those who have filed legal cases against him for violations of human rights that took place in Sri Lanka may be relying on the fact that he is a US citizen to have the charges against him stick in the US court system. Until such time as these cases are dismissed or decided upon, there could be a delay in the renunciation process.

Judicial Mechanism 

In one of the plaints made to the court in Los Angeles, it is stated that “corruption, bias and lack of judicial independence still mark the Sri Lankan legal system. Political and military leaders enjoy effective impunity against legal accountability for human rights abuses. Given the lack of judicial independence and risk of reprisal, plaintiff has no adequate and available remedies in the courts of Sri Lanka.” One possible way to counter this allegation would be for the government to establish a special court system on the lines of the special anti-corruption courts that have recently been established. These special courts could fast track cases of human rights violations that stem from the past decades of violence that captured international attention, and which have made Sri Lankan citizens vulnerable to international courts. This is also what the resolution of the UNHRC which was co-sponsored by the government in Geneva seeks to do, and for good reason.

Finding a way to stop the cloud of accountability from spreading and darkening the future of Sri Lankans who have a connection with national security issues should be a national priority. It is worth mentioning that the higher Sri Lankan judiciary recently came into the international limelight in a positive light on account of being a key decisionmaker on controversial political issues on which it was difficult to get consensual answers. The judiciary’s role in sorting out the contentious issues that arose in October 2018 in the context of the attempted constitutional coup elevated its stature both domestically and internationally. The decisions of the Supreme Court and Appeal Court led to the complete rolling back of the coup. As a result, the judiciary gained credibility as being an institution that could deliver speedy and unbiased decisions if the cases were brought before them.

Those who wish to take on the mantle of nationalism will undoubtedly see in the decision of the US court to accept the case against the former defence secretary as part of the conspiracy against the country. However, while satisfying domestic audiences such arguments made locally are unlikely to stop the cloud of accountability from spreading internationally. Foreign courts are more likely to exercise their jurisdiction if those who come before them are able to show that they have no reasonable expectation of justice any time soon in Sri Lanka. It would seem in this context that the best course of action for Sri Lanka to follow would be to implement the pledge made by the government in terms of the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 2015 to establish a special judicial mechanism that meets international standards. The recent decisions of Sri Lanka’s higher judiciary show this can be done.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Jehan!
    A special Judicial Mechanism? may be a good idea but who will be the Judges. As long as Srilankan Judges are appointed to hear the cases there won’t be any difference. Judges will be under the tentacles of the government. Not that the Foreign Judges cannot be bought over either by the Srilankan government or directed by the countries they hail from. The conduct of various countries Like UK,USA, India and, UN, before,during and after the war leaves much to be desired. They are part and parcel of the ‘bunch, of accused.

    • 7
      5

      Dr. JP: oh please spare us this SPIN! This action against US citizen Gota which should have happened 8 years ago is part of the Cloud of distraction and obfuscation from Trumpland.
      “Cloud of accountability” indeed what a lovely euphemism to obfuscate the facts! Accountability from Trumpland – after the arrest of Julian Assange who exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?! Oh please get a life Dr. Jehan.
      The US-UK-France P3 Endgame in Sri Lanka is a military base in Trincomalee.

      • 4
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        Right on. Accountability needs clarity and logical thinking, not cloudy speculation
        Dr. Jehan has mixed his metaphors — a clear indication that he and many of Colombo’s US-EU funded Human Rights NGOs are clouded with uncertainty, intellectually bankrupt and morally complicit in turning HR into a livelihood business..
        Not surprising, this cloudy accountability, as the funds come from the world’s biggest arms manufacturers and arms sellers, including to US proxy Saudi Arabia for its Yemen war and humanitarian catastrophe, and then US-UK-EU will send fake ‘humanitarian aid’.
        What a cynical circus- the neoliberal war and peace industry!

        • 6
          1

          Kalinga

          What’s wrong with Colombo’s US-EU funded Human Rights NGOs?
          Are they robbing the state treasury left right and centre?
          Are the operating white vans?

          Do we have home grown indigenously funded Human Rights NGOs?

          Is there a possibility people could transform Malwatta and Asgiriya into home grown Human Rights NGOs?

          • 1
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            NV:
            NPC has been dancing to US EU funders tunes for too long and serves their interests rather than those of Lankans. This is a problem especially when they are arresting whistle blowers like Julian Assange.
            Fact is, NPC should have filed a case against US citizen Gota using USAID $$$ and ‘experts’ long ago on behalf of Ahimsa for NON-RECURRENCE of war crimes in SL. But rather it bought into the fake reconciliation aka. UNP-SLFP bi-partisan corruption racket project, promoted by various foreign experts and Constitution drafters.
            NPC also done research how to weaponize religion and Buddhist vs Muslim conflict potential..Divide, distract, Rule loot and set up bases in their Cold Wars – is the motto of P3. Check out book ” Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Asia. Yale University Press.

          • 1
            4

            Native Vedda: these days, Every month or twice a month, the central bank is selling T bills to mature every 90 days, six months and one year. Srilanka pays a hefty Interest too. why Sri lanka needs that much borrowing and why they can not cut downimports and wait until women in the middle east send some. Anyway, it is to make Mutural fund sellers and financial dealers in the US happy. Mangala is doing that. About 480 – 500 women per year come in coffins.. Politicians waste that money. IF he is buddhist, he knows what Hell he would be in.

            • 4
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              Dinuk & JD

              I am completely lost.

  • 6
    1

    It is not possible to get justice for victims in this country. The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act are not applied against powerful political, military and security personalities. Even the Supreme Court and Appeal Court treat them as sacred cows and will not arrest them according to due procedure.

    Another curious feature of this country’s system of administration of justice is that suspects are treated much more harshly than convicted prisoners. Prisoners serving jail terms are not beaten up or tortured but suspects are routinely subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. That is rather an anomalous state of affairs I should say!

  • 7
    1

    The Rajapaksa supporters can whine about this being the usual “plot” by the US to control, and interfere in Sri Lanka. There are good reasons to think that way, the US has a bad habit of interfering, toppling governments, and waging unnecessary wars, we know that, but keep in mind Lasantha’s family have been impressively relentless in seeking justice for the brutal murder of their loved one. To date NO one has been held accountable, or punished, for this horrible crime. Plus, when it comes to war crimes, once again families who are still crying for their missing family members, have not been able to get any closure, or official explanation given, about the whereabouts of their loved ones. We would also want to know why thousands of civilians were killed, and not safeguarded by the government, who did not have to behave like the LTTE terrorists.
    We would also like to know if the reports of rape, torture, and various war crimes, by those wearing the uniform of our country, are true. It is easy for some Sri Lankans to dismiss it all as the price we pay for wars, but that is because they did not lose a loved one, because if they did, their tune will be totally different.

    The Rajapaksa’s and top military officials like Sarath Fonseka, must be held accountable, and stop blaming other nations, international agencies, foreign media, and everyone else, even accusing them of “doctored tapes” and false propaganda. Just because the Western nations act like they are above international laws, does not mean we do not do the right thing by our people. Until this is done, every government will be hounded by those wanting justice.

    • 3
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      Navin,
      “We would also want to know why thousands of civilians were killed, and not safeguarded by the government, who did not have to behave like the LTTE terrorists.”
      Where the hell you live. Even international community has accepted the fact that SL Army saved about 300,000 civilians kept as a human shield by your barbarian boss.
      ————–
      “We would also like to know if the reports of rape, torture, and various war crimes, by those wearing the uniform of our country, are true.’
      No, they are not true. These crimes were not committed by Sri Lankan Armed Forces. What we hear are fabricated stories by ‘Koti Diaspora’ and their mouthpiece TNA. All these crimes were committed by Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) who came to restore peace but committed heinous crimes against Demala people. We hear that there are many Indian looking fatherless people in the North.
      ———
      “It is easy for some Sri Lankans to dismiss it all as the price we pay for wars, but that is because they did not lose a loved one, because if they did, their tune will be totally different.”

      ——-
      Were those killed by Demala barbarians family members hated by their families? No they were loved ones but Sinhalayo have come to terms with that past and go on with their lives but there is a handful of Demala crooks who make hue and cry for their survival and to take revenge for sending their Sun God to hell and defeating the so called ‘Militarily Undefeatable’ Demala terrorist outfit LTTE.

      • 5
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        In a recent interview with Samathanam the person who has a filed a case against Gota, the IBC reported the following, as told by Samathanam. He explains the various tortures he had under gone by TID and at the Boosa detention camp. Further he also speaks about the sexual assaults on Men and women at both places by the so called law enforcing authorities. In some cases he was made to witness these atrocities to bully him and extract information as they wanted. Of course they failed. I would suggest that the Eeagle eye read the article with his penetrative eyes he is supposed to posses, though with the passage of Time his eyes are are affected by CATARACT. Please do not centre round Srilankan papers only, widen you wings and fly around the word before you go completely blind.
        It may be also added the the Muslim officers translated the Dialogue with vengeance to to satisfy the Sinhalese TID officers.

    • 3
      0

      Thank you
      Roy samathanam

    • 0
      0

      Exactly right this action is plainly and simply Lasanthas family seeking redress for the brutal assassination of their father 10years ago… there is no political puppet master here just a determined young woman seeking justice… the sooner people realize this and stop trying to inject vague conspiracy theories into her motivation the better…

  • 5
    0

    Again and yet again the sad and horrible murder of Lasantha Wickramatunge is surfacing and getting drowned. With all the authority that the MY3 + RW government have and having an able team of Police officers, why is this investigation made a mockery and denial of justice. The term of office of the “Yahapalana” government is closing to an end and nothing is done towards discovering the truth. There several possibilities. Firstly, even the best of investigators cannot find any evidence, which I doubt. Secondly, they do have fool proof evidence but the real perpetrators have now clung on to the garments of the big-wigs of the present government, which is a likely possibility. Thirdly, there is a tacit understanding between all those in politics that this incident is only meant to fool people like us who are concerned about this murder and therefore only restricted to political consumption, which is possible. In an underpaid public service such as in Sri Lanka, obviously cash is king and any aberration is possible. If the gentry believes that there is a thing called “over-all” responsibility and therefore whosoever headed or created a system must answer then that system is bound to fail even in the International Court of Justice. If the wishful thinking of “over-all” responsibility is relied upon, the first person who has to do a lot of answering is the creator of the Batalanda torture facility and that is well documented in a Commission of Inquiry, the report of which is searchable in the Internet. It is well known that it was MR who “helped” RW in the crisis when CBK and others like Mangy were gunning for RW at that time. Yes! In politics there are no permanent friends or foes.

  • 1
    1

    Jehan PhD’s job has been covering up Appe Aanduwa; now he has been expanding it to covering the Sinhala Jury only verdicts too. He writes this way and that way i.e. both ways to confuse the Sinhala Buddhist Modayas.

    The Coup was about Ranil handing over the PM Job to Old King. There was strong opposition from outside, Tamils and Muslims. It appeared that UNP was going to be affected if the Coup go ahead. Then after his last meeting with Colombo diplomats, Ranil secretly met with Old King and New King at EP’s residence. They reserved the Coup. Court decision didn’t affect the three stooges’ way. It was only an injunction for Old King to not to hold cabinet meeting. They removed the 122 MPS filed court case from the court. The game was, the three game players had the injunction placed in a protecting way them from any responsibility of the coup.

    That is how they kept intact their ability to redo the coup again and again. Anybody reads the Colombo media knows today is the attempt of the 4th coup. No one is punished for anyone of them. What a court system of the Wonder of Asia! Can the defender Jhan PhD explain this?

    • 3
      0

      It’s a JD from Harvard, not a PhD from Jaffna.

      • 1
        1

        JD does NOT entitle him to be called “doctor” because it’s NOT the terminal degree. He advertises himself falsely.

        Jehangir should comment about lack of accountability for US War crimes, from Vietnam to Iraq. Assange is hunted by the US for exposing US war crimes including shooting unarmed civilians from a helicopter gunship with glee . Tens of millions of bombs unleashed on Lao are still killing people. MyLai massacre etc.
        .EXCEPT, Jehangir is unable to write about those because he thrives on US government handouts for his NGO. ICC is not allowed into USA . UNHRC is NO LONGER recognized by US

  • 2
    0

    I don’t think Dr Jehan needs to worry about Sira getting an Extension.
    The High Court will guarantee that.

    The problem with the next Presidency seems to be all in the UNP Camp.
    Is it Dr Ranil, Is It Keselwatta Kid or Is it Uncle Karu?.

    Elite , Anglicans, Velalas , Diaspora, US Embassy and the UK HC will be 100% percent behind Dr Ranil.
    And they will do what ever they can , come the Election.

    Keselwatta Kid can’t win with just Magampura Dalits Vote .
    Bombay bookies will give 500 to 1 ,if anyone of our Cricket Loving punters wants to put a Wager on the Kid…

    Uncle Karu is a bit different.
    With the Elite Breeding , he has no problems with the appeal to some of Dr Ranil’s support base.
    But Uncle is a born wimp, as I understand
    He is happy working under Dr Ranil no matter what .
    Otherwise he could have got the PM job last year ,
    And given the UNP a face lift, to clear their image of the Diaspora Sucking Political Party who are there to serve the Rich .
    And the loyal servants of the West, who want to divide the 2500 year Nation into Blocks.

    The Wahabis this time will be on the Fence for obvious reasons
    Besides, all these high profile Diaspora supporters have never spoken about the disappearances of the people in Kathankaddy
    Neither there are summons in California or else where for people who have helped the perpetrators of the crimes committed in the Mosque.

    • 3
      0

      Are you saying the PIG does not have a chance in the year of the PIG.

  • 3
    3

    “You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes”- John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach.

    Burghers are a menace to our Sri Lankan way of life
    Tamils ruined this country and caused all the mess
    The Christians are a thorn in our flesh – they convert us Buddhists
    The Catholics won’t let Buddhism thrive in our beautiful land
    The Muslims are sterilizing us and bring narcotics into our land
    The US is crashing the SK Rupee
    The UN is out to get us
    India wants to annex us as an Indian State
    The UK, US, and France want a piece of our beautiful Island
    The whole world hates us – we the the the greatest people on this planet

    ..and finally, it is people like Jehan Perera – who is a curse to our society.

    • 1
      0

      Well said. This article is utterly stupid, even by Jehan’s standards. It exposes his duplicity.

    • 1
      2

      Ugli american: when an american says this we need to believe you.

  • 2
    0

    The US generally does not allow its citizens to be tried for human rights violations. It is very sensitive to opening up a can of worms, where its soldiers can be tried for war crimes for acts they participate in around the world.

    I am not sure if there are precedence to a US citizens being convicted of human rights violations in the US judicial system.

    It would be interesting to see.

  • 1
    3

    Mr. Jehan Perera: It looks Maithripala Sirisena versus Gotabhaya Rajapakse is a good choice.

    • 2
      0

      JD
      Its going to be a three way and SLFP votes are going to be split between SLFP and SLPP. Appaya is a one time President.

      • 2
        1

        Burt

        Wait until the eve of the elections.
        The police and armed forces might unearth cache of arms, including ICBM, Trident submarine, all kinds of Drones, killer satellites, AK-74, Nano killer bugs, …. under Sambandan’s underwear.

        The court clowns, Dinesh, Udhaya, Weerawansa …………… will discover a plot or conspiracy by the West to destabilise this island.

  • 0
    1

    Jehan as usual has put it very well. Bensen

  • 1
    2

    While we are talking about these crap, the Central Bank is selling T BILLS for three months, Six months and one year for thousands of millions. All are bought by the American financial dealers and that selling happens every month. Why do we need to borrow momey this way. Is it because we have to give some big profits to money dealers who have money but can not find good investments. Srilanka is being ripped. finance minister Mangala Samraweera looks having his own govt. Every one elseis silent.

  • 0
    0

    The Lankan Elites without political borders are, as usual, united here. They will keep dispersing the ‘cloud of accountability’. A few spits maybe but never the rain.
    If unwell, even a headache, the Elites go to Singapore. They go to Dubai for fresh Dates.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 3
    0

    Jehan:

    You have always come across as some one decent and well informed . But I remember the last time you wrote that accountability was lost in the Legal System which is a BLOT on your track record and I am sure you regret that you said it. It wasnt lost in the Legal System but it was lost in the London Dungeon for ever never to be found. Almost every one who is running the Country including RW , Mangala and the CROOK MS are guilty of it because of the promise they gave to MR & his cohorts that they will be protected. ESTOPPEL . I never expected justice to be delivered from within Sri Lanka and it has to be enforced from outside.

    1) The cloud of accountability that has dogged Sri Lanka since the end of the war has begun to spread. There was warning of this reality when the UN Human Rights Commissioner in her March 2019 report on Sri Lanka made a recommendation that the international community should utilize the principle of universal jurisdiction to bring to book members of the Sri Lankan state who had allegations of serious human rights violations against them.
    *** You are wrong the dark clouds have begun to lift with the pending action in the US Courts. Gotha was an American Citizen when he committed these heinous Crimes and he cant serve two masters. His time is finally up ( I hope). From what I have read Gotha hasnt submitted the application to renounce his American Citizenship as I am sure he was advised by his lawyers it might not be granted as FBI , The State Department will carry out stringent checks to establish whether he comitted these as an Amercian Citizen which he did..
    But what I am saddened is that when he arrived his family invited a Monk., Bishop and a Hindu Priest to bless him. What a farce and I think that Hindu Priest should be BEHEADED. I wonder why there was no IMAM. May because Gotha being a Patron of BBS didnt want an IMAM. I am sure the Islamic State can answer this.

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