19 September, 2020

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Impeaching CJ Shirani B, CJ Mohan P, War Crimes And Reconciliation

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

How Continuing Distrust Stands In The Way Of Reconciliation

I was told recently by a diplomat that, amongst the worries in connection with the appointment of Mohan Pieris as Chief Justice, was the feeling that he had been put there to subvert any judicial process that might be implemented with regard to War Crimes. This struck me as ridiculous.

But it was also indicative of the deep distrust and lack of logic that bedevil our relations with the world. It is based on an obsession with War Crimes that is a creation of two equally pernicious initiatives. The first is the determination of the LTTE rump to avenge the destruction of their hero and the terrorist separatist agenda. The second is the cynical efforts of some Western politicians to use the charge to exert pressure on us.

As the LLRC report indicates, and all actual evidence suggests, if there were abuses, they were committed by individuals, and should and would be dealt with by military courts. Though it is claimed that we have delayed unduly in this regard, that is absurd, and those who complain know this perfectly well, given how long it has taken the British and the Americans to deal with abuses by their personnel. Of course our failure to act with regard to what happened in Trincomalee is another question, and our delay there is unacceptable, but that had nothing to do with the war, and did not involve the military.

Where we are at fault is in not publicizing what we are doing. We should learn from what the Americans and the British did, and perhaps even emulate them in acquitting everyone except one suitable scapegoat – and the Americans avoided doing even that in the celebrated case of the team that cut off the thumbs of their victims.

I do not however see this as hypocrisy. In the first place, securing convictions is difficult when standards of proof are high, as criminal cases demand. Secondly, the point is to make it clear that abuses are unacceptable, so as to limit their occurrence.

For all that what we need is army action, with no intervention by the Supreme Court. The notion therefore that Mohan Pieris was made Chief Justice to subvert action in the Courts is totally illogical. It is also misplaced in that there seem clear indications that others were considered for the post, and the previous Attorney General, who is reported to have refused the job, was the Chairman of the LLRC which identified abuses they thought required further inquiry.

But this type of illogicality is not confined to foreigners. One argument I have heard for the determination to impeach the Chief Justice is that she was part of an international conspiracy to subvert the developmental projects of the Sri Lankan government, and indeed the government itself.

That too is an absurd notion. While clearly elements in government were not pleased when judgment was initially delivered on the Divineguma Bill, it has since been recognized that the strictures made were perfectly reasonable, and the Court made it clear that the Bill could be passed following procedural proprieties, and / or with modifications, and /or with a two thirds majority. Indeed some Cabinet Ministers have noted that the insistence on greater Cabinet responsibility was a boon.

Conversely, it should also be recognized that the recalcitrance of the Chief Justice, as manifested not just in her refusal to attend a meeting with the President, but in the extravagant statement issued by the Judicial Services Commission, followed developments that sufficiently explain her attitude without assuming international interventions. One view is that the charges against her husband upset her. The more generous view is that the incidents in Mannar, with allegations of improper behavior by a politician and a spate of confrontational demonstrations, made her unduly conscious of the status of the judiciary.

But unfortunately we all prefer to think of conspiracies rather than look at facts rationally and make allowances for frail human nature. So we have yet another example of the corrosive distrust that bedevils our efforts to move forward.

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Latest comments

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    Has anybody seen Dayan Jayatillake? He’s suddenly gone radio silent; did he also get a seat in the plane with Mahinda Samarasinghe to fly to Geneva? If so, we should all feel happy for the guy, I suppose. It seems that he still has the mojo to upset MR to the point that he is pulled back into the gravy train.

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      Hey dood Ragiva have you lost the plot or your marbles?
      YOu say that the killing in Trinco had nothing to do with the war! Get real man. They were committed by the military during the failed peace process for all the world to see..

      And your powers of logical argument against the surmise that Mohan the crook was made CJ to stop war crimes investigations is pathetic. The murderer cannot investigate himself. The Sri Lanka Army cannot investigate itself, any more than the US army can, and since two wrongs never made a right the cases need to be heard either in the Courts or at the ICC in the Hague..

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        It is true that any person/body cannot investigate about him/her/it self. But If it is about a personnel or set of personnel in an armed force then it can. Additionally if the incident relates to violations of civil law then civil authorities too can investigate to lead into a court case. So it is should the ‘international community’ (purposely within inverted commas) too can investigate to lead into an ICC case. But in all cases, once punished by any court the offender cannot be punished again for the same act in a different court.

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    @Rajiva

    If you wrote this article exclusively for the Colombo Telegraph, let me tell you that it’s just a waste of your time and energy. 90% of the readers here are not blind patriots, Rajapaksa sycophants or armed forces apologists. You probably would have got very good responses if you had published this in government newspapers and websites.

    ps. the only way this country can move forward is when the Rajapaksas’ are out of the picture and parts of the racist majority realise that there has to be accountability for the war crimes that took place and when they finally accept that this country belongs not only to the Sinhala Buddhists, but also to all other minorities and accept these minorities as their equals.

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    Rajiva has his version for all the Photos emanating from the diaspora
    whilst the diaspora is duty-bound to stand by their community. He choose to identify a slipper – here it is:

    [Edited out] Please don’t post gossip links – CT

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    What a joke. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Rajiva Wijesinghe, the expert government Ass-Kisser.

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    The reasons for previous AG C R Silva not accepting are rather obvious to anyone who has a sense of justice. Mohan Peiris being rejected by people as unsuitable is also quite obvious considering his past record (dockyard gate) and being an advisor to the president and involved in the illegal impeachment as well. Surprising that Dr Rajiva W cannot see this.

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    Rajiva as I have mentioned earlier, you are like a monkey jumping from tree to tree. Once again you are contradicting your own past articles. Are you confirming 1) that atrocities are committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces only? 2) that no civilian committed any crime either during the war or before the war or after the war against the minorities? 3)that none of the politicians are involved in any of the atrocities that were committed? 4) that no senior government employee was directly or indirectly involved in the atrocities committed?

    How can a military court investigate and give judgement on a civilian criminal?

    Rajiva please do not expose your stupidity. We are not stupid.

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    It is not only deep distrust and lack of logic that bedevil SL’s relations with the world; it is also such things as the manner in which Mohan Pieris was made CJ and his predecessor in that office was removed.

    Especially at a time when it should be doing all it can to repair fences with the West and secure the goodwill of the international community, it does not help if the government seems determined to shoot itself in the foot as with the whole CJ affair.

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    “I was told recently by a diplomat that, amongst the worries in connection with the appointment of Mohan Pieris as Chief Justice, was the feeling that he had been put there to subvert any judicial process that might be implemented with regard to War Crimes. This struck me as ridiculous.”

    How is one supposed to take the rest of the article seriously?

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    Hello Freddy Man: Have you seen Rajiva’s Slippers anywhere in Geneva or has he left it in Rajapakse’s loo when he went there last for a hot curry!

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    It has come to point that no sensible reader of ct will take rajiva wijesinghes writings seriously.this man is an obvious slipper sucker of the Rajapaksa regime and seems to have a split personality.he is neither here nor there. Tell us please rajiva are you supporting this Rajapaksa mafia or not. If not please don’t sit on fence and keep pontificating.the Rajapaksa governments true colors re human rights is now being exposed at the unhrc in Geneva.and no amount of spin by guys like you can save the day.

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    Rajive you are a professor you should not stoop to this level. By the way how is your meta data going

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