25 July, 2024


Is The Sectoral Oversight Committee Report On National Security Flawed 

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

Technology is very helpful in many ways. One of which is when looking for something using a computer. In relation to the Sectoral Oversight Committee report on National Security dated 19th February 2020, I was keen to see the occurrence of certain words. The results were:

Terrorism mentioned 29 times; 

Extremism 12 times; 

Religions 24 times; 

Wakf (charity fund) 45; 

Madrasa 25 times;

National security 66 times.

For ease of understanding, the relevant documents referred to herein are:

1. Eighth Parliament – Oversight Plan of The Sectoral Oversight Committees dated 24 January 2017.

2. Standing Orders of the Parliament. 

3. Report of Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security dated 19th February 2020.

Background to the Committee

1. Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament are appointed by virtue of Parliament Standing Order (SO) 111 as may be determined by the Committee of Selection.

2. Standing Order 111 (3) states, “The Committee of Selection shall determine the subjects and functions to be allocated to each Sectoral Oversight Committee.”

3. Each Sectoral Committee is given an area over which it has jurisdiction.  Accordingly, as per Standing Order (7) (1) a Committee has to function within its jurisdiction.  It states, “In order to determine whether any law, project or program relating to subjects within the jurisdiction of a Sectoral Oversight Committee are being implemented effectively …”

4. Pursuant to a resolution passed in Parliament on 19th December 2015, the Agenda for the Oversight Plan of the Sectoral Oversight Committees was constituted.

5. Sixteen Sectoral Oversight Committees were established and on 24 January 2017 the Oversight Plan for each of these were detailed. 

6. The Plan for the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security (SOCNS) is seen in Item (3) of the above Agenda. The Plan also indicates the names of ministries and other institutions coming under the purview of the National Security committee.

From the above, the following becomes clear and evident.

1. The SOCNS has being given an identified Plan of work.

2. The SOCNS has been informed of the ministries, departments and other institutions which come under its purview.

3. The SOCNS has been assigned a certain jurisdiction within which it has to function.

Departure from the Norm

1. The title of the SOCNS as per the Parliament resolution is, “The Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security”. The Report of this Committee should have had this title on the face of the report. However, what is seen is the following: 

“Report of the Proposals for Formulation and Implementation of relevant laws required to ensure National security that will eliminate New Terrorism and extremism by strengthening friendship among Races and Religions” dated 19th February 2020. 

Can this be an administrative error?

2. This departure from the norm is the reason for the multiple occurrences of the above words. In the Parliament sanctioned Plan for the SOCNS, it is seen that (a) the word, ‘Religious’ is mentioned only once and that is in relation to Hindu Religious Affairs. (b) The word, ‘Terrorism’ is referred to in the Plan only once and that is with regard to the Prevention of Terrorism Act. (c) The word, “Extremism’ is not mentioned anywhere in the Plan of action. (d) The word, ‘Wakf’ is not mentioned anywhere in the Plan. (e) Madrasa is not mentioned anywhere in the Plan. 

Strangely, these words ‘Terrorism’, ‘Extremism’, ‘Religious’, ‘Wakf’, ‘Madrasa’ occur 29, 12, 24, 45 and 25 times respectively in the SOCNS report.

Has the SOCNS violated its mandate and transgressed its scope?

3. The SOCNS report touches on Education at page 10 of the report. It extensively refers to Madrasa education etc. This is not part of the mandate given by Parliament to this Committee. In fact, there is a separate Committee for education that had been appointed named, “Oversight Plan of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education & Human Resources Development”.

The question is, has SOCNS exceeded its powers and gone beyond its jurisdiction?

4. The action plan passed by the Parliament specifically identifies the ministries and other institutions coming under the purview of the SOCNS. Under this SOCNS can act with regard to legislations governing the functions of the specified Ministries, Departments and Institutions. This may be done only if it has relevance to the subject and importantly within the jurisdiction of the Committee.

The SOCNS however, seems to have digressed from this authority. It has delved into Ministries or Departments which are neither relevant to its scope of work nor within its jurisdiction. In the list of Ministries and Departments, no mention has been made about Department of Muslim Religious Affairs. The SOCNS however, refers to this Department in relation to Wakf matters.

The question is, whether it is ultra vires its powers and violated jurisdiction?

5. The Parliament resolution lays down the scope of work of the SOCNS. Under the sub-heading, ‘General Actions’, at page 23, it states as follows:

“The Committee will work with the subjects under its jurisdiction to obtain a full understanding of the respective subject areas and ascertain what are the goals and objectives of each institution.”

The SOCNS Report however, has moved away from this legal requirement. It addresses issues outside the subject areas like (a) the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Law (MMDA) which is the personal law of the Muslims. (b) The Department of Muslim Religious Affairs in relation to Wakf Act which is not even mentioned under this Committee. (c) Halal Certification Process which has no relevance. (d) Banning face coverings which has no relevance to its scope. (e) Suspension of Registration of Political Parties on Ethnic and Religious Basis.

By touching on matters irrelevant to the Plan has the SOCNS Report surpassed its jurisdiction?

6. The word, ‘Media’ has been used in its various connotations at least 137 times. At page 31, the Report states that, “ … it is essential to prevent prejudice against an individual, group of individuals or a community in reporting information and news in electronic, print or social media for defense and ensuring the safety of citizens.”

No names of the media institutions which are popularly labelled bias and racists have been named. In contrast, the word, ‘Jamath’ has been used in its various senses at least 10 times and they have been specifically named.

Can this be a human error?

7. With regard to international schools the Committee notes, “…. is the functioning of a group of schools that have been registered as international schools to which non-Islamic students are not admitted under any circumstance.”

I am thinking if it had considered the following facts. (a) not all Muslim children get admission to government schools (b) all non-Muslim children on the other hand, are admitted to any government school (c) therefore, the need for a non-Muslim student to enter an international school does not arise (d) the emergence of international schools was as a result of the need to provide an educational platform to the Muslim students who have been left out of the mainstream.

It is the government’s responsibility to facilitate education. If it fails, then is it wrong if alternative schools are established?

8. Arguably several areas referred to in the report infringes on fundamental rights and several other international conventions. For example, 

(a) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 27 states:

“In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.”

(b) Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities – 1982, Article 1:

“States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”

(c) Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief – 1981, Article 2:

“1. No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or belief.”

“2. For the purposes of the present Declaration, the expression “intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief” means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.”

These are besides the fundamental rights entrenched in our own Constitution.

9. It has been said that Minorities falling under the Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil, Cultural and Political rights, that is, individuals belonging to national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities possess characteristics that form part of their identity and differ from the characteristics possessed by the majority population of the state. Because of these particularities, minorities can be often considered to be directly or indirectly discriminated against and to stand in unequal position in relation to majority.

10. The words national security had been repeated at least 66 times in the report. I could not find a single paragraph where it has been stated what is meant by national security. Or, what is the definition of national security. Or, what does national security mean in the Sri Lankan context. Without this basic framework of what constitutes national security, I was wondering, how can any committee formulate recommendations in a scientifically methodical manner.

It is obvious from a reading of the report that the typical stereotyping of the Muslims and Islam has been equated to national security issues. Most of the findings have nothing to do with national security. Take for example the issue of MMDA or the Halal certification. Therefore, in my view, the sectoral committee on national security is a flawed document.  

In the real interest of national security, I believe that a new committee need to be formed with a clear mandate defining national security and its relevance to Sri Lanka in the wake of changing geo-political and regional political dynamics, religious and ethnic extremism prevalent in Sri Lanka among the Sinhala, Tamils and Muslims. The need is to address issues of really and truly relevant to national security.

The requirement is a Human Rights-Based Approach to National Security.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    We all need to take responsibility to our own ghettos until a time ghettoes are no more Usaf.

    In Jaffna we failed as a community did not stand up to our Children see the results..at least see it for what it is that happened to the Muslims in Jaffna please.

    When we make Ghettoes this is what happens…..we live in a secular world with secular thoughts..we can not have our cake and eat it….even more so when the Majority of Sri Lankans says what they want and how they want in a democracy that includes all people from all walks of life.

    This has not changed ever since…will never change….all that you have written is within this context only one should near that in mind.

    I loved and worked in many Nations I follow their rules and regulations..even the divided troubled ethnicities within these nations too follow many things I said and working a better tomorrow constrictively……and positively too. Yes always few get swayed by the foreign hands with their own interests…security services are learning to cope.

    • 5

      Mass: The Key to understanding how reports and the narrative is gamed is to understand how national institutions have been captured by foreign fake Aid projects for institutional capacity building’ especially by USAID.
      Saudi money has bought corrupt politicians, from all parties, to turn a blind eye to ISIS terror. CIA and Saudi, which killed Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbu, funded and planned own and operate the ISIS narrative with the CIA. Please read the book: The ISIS is US: The Shocking Truth behind the Army of Terror. by Wayne Madson and a panel of intelligence experts.
      Mass it is Time for Muslims like yourself to come clean, stop pretending to be deaf and dumb and talk about the GEOPOLITICS behind the Easter attack that targetted China and Sri Lankan economy in a Hybrid War. Zaharan died at Shangri La hotel with another bomber? Why China’s Shangri La?!
      The money bags from Saudi, and other Middle East countries behind the Easter Sunday attacks – particularly for the corrupt Muslim politicians of all parties, as well as to the US citizen Rajapaksa brother Basil, and US puppets Ranil-Mangala, Sagala and the gay boys club — was to debilitate the whole national Police and Criminal Investigation process with US experts and advisors to cover up the fact that it was a CIA operation.

      • 5

        And then the CIA removed the cell phones of the Bombers to hide the foreign contacts!
        .Why is M.L.M Hizbullah who got 4 billion from Saudi, govenor and friend of Kathankudi’s Zaharan not behind bars? He and Rishard and Hakeen all got big bucks from Saudi to land grab and set up the US backed ISIS Caliphate in the Eastern Province close to Trinco Harbour. All the corrupt Muslim politicians rushed off to Mecca on a free ride during Sirisena’s sacking of Ranil Wickramasinghe crisis and were involved in proteting Zaharan?!
        As Basil Fernando noted “In recent times, all the governments have conspired and acted continuously to undermine the criminal investigative capacity of the Sri Lankan police. Yes indeed, it was a bi-partisan, UNP-SLFP/PP and of course SLMC, cross party corruption and collusion network with M.L.M Hizbulla of Kathankudi where Zaharan was based hitting the Saudi/US Foreign Funding for ISIS terror jackpot that enabled the Easter carnage, along with the debilitation of the Police with American MCC and USAID and Fake Human Rights advisors to puppet Ranil Wickramasinghe’s IGP – Pujith in place.
        Mass good Muslims should tell the TRUTH and call out their corrupt politicians!

  • 4

    Why has 1slam failed in Sri Lanka big time???? Is it because of the weather??? Since 57 Muslim countries are the most peaceful countries in the world, the religion of peace community in Sri Lanka can go there.
    Halal certification process is a fraud. Even non-Muslims have been charged for Halal labelled products.
    Polygamy must be criminalised, the minimum age of marriage must be 18 years of age, triple Thalak must be criminalised, and everyone must marry under national law.

  • 5

    Mass Usuf,
    When some Madrasas teach to kill non-Muslims, isn’t that related to national security?

    “It extensively refers to Madrasa education etc. This is not part of the mandate given by Parliament to this Committee.”

  • 2

    SL has no future as one nation. Period!

    The island must be divided into 3 mono ethnic independent nations.

    Muslim Elam can have Sharia Law, Sharia banking, Halal food, MMDA, Qasi Courts, burial of COVID-19 dead, ban on pork consumption, Burka, Hijab, Surath over loudspeakers, Friday as a holiday instead of Sunday, etc.

    Productivity of Muslim Elam will be up 8% for not having a holiday for full moon days, Christian and Hindu holdays!!

    Tamil Elam will have all Tamil aspirations, no more Tamil grievances, Thesawalami, Tamil human rights, productivity up by 5% for not having non-Tamil holidays, massive Tamil diaspora investments, massive EU and US investments (now they don’t come because they hate SL), Tamil interests are heard at international UN summits, no more slavery under Sinhala masters.

    Sinhala Only Elam will have Sinhala Only, Buddhism supremacy, unitary status, no Tamils and no Muslims, productivity up by 3% for not having non-Sinhala holidays, freedom from political solutions, UNHRC hassle, easy governance in one language only, 33% cost saving on all government printing and communications, a massive 50% increase of university graduates.

    Benefits everyone.

    • 0

      (1) Now we await the response from the usual culprits here on CT..agreeing to word by word what you said and say it is exactly what they are looking/PROPOSING for and arguing with the UN and India to get it done..does not matter what format…Separatism or Devolution.

      (2) Do you know how we going to protect the boarders between each one please….would this be the Israel style walls/fences/landmines/barbed wires covering the entire length manned by by North/South Korean style UN manned boarders until the India-China war is completed at least?

      (3) Population growth/coastal erosions/climate change will be managed by the land reclamation process only as UN will ensure the three way split correct?

      (4) India may not want to mix their Indian heritage or vis a vis then we could further divide the North and East to park the Sri Lankan Citizens of Indian Origin??could put them in the Islands close to India perhaps…including Karainagar I am happy to give away.

      Now we await the Maliyurans, SSS, PK, Agith, Agnos cause Dr GS (Doctor Do Good) to respond..(without any insult please) just say yes/no..happy/not happy and “Thank you” and say this is why FP/TULF have worked so hard to sacrifice the entire Mother Lankan Children fought for the past 70+ years.

      • 0

        It will be amazing if we can bring the UN to Sri Lanka too as the future focus is here is why we lost all we had….will be replaced by all the UN Security Council nations militaries based in one place too.

        Great job opportunity for the next generation of Sons and Daughters as all the standard “service industry” that crops up around this kind of settings historically around the world too. Fresh Fresh.

        • 0

          Make peace through Love..great opportunity for the Tamil Nadu Bollywood Moviemakers to move into bars/clubs and entertainment industry etc. Job opportunity like no other across the waters without having to dirty their land/sons/daughters too for spiritual reasons.

          Sounds perfect.

      • 0

        Sorry I missed NV out. Look forward to learning your thoughts too please.

        • 0

          Forget about polygamy we are talking about Kama sutra here pls.

    • 3

      Can you state how much land does each country should get?. I’m really curious to see what is going in your head.

    • 1

      Can you state how much land does each country should get?. I’m really curious to see what is going in your head.

    • 0

      Sinhale is the Land of Sinhalayo. Sinhalayo who evolved in this country developed this country from scratch and sacrificed their lives to protect their country from invaders.
      Tamils who were brought to this country by colonial rulers helped them to exploit this country and get rich. Contribution of Muslims to develop this country is almost nil. They simply exploited Sinhalayo engaging in buying and selling. Both Tamil and Muslim communities live in this country because Sinhalayo gave them asylum. So, do not expect Native Sinhalayo to split their country and give one piece on a platter to Tamils and another piece on a platter to Muslims.
      Tamils and Muslims who are willing to live with Sinhalayo accepting that Sinhale/Sri Lanka is the Land of Sinhalayo, it is a Unitary State, it is a Buddhist country are welcome to stay here. Others are free to return to their ancestral homeland or any other place where they feel more comfortable. Sinhalayo did not invite Tamils or Muslims to their country. They just helped them when faced a desperate situation.

  • 2

    1976 opened up employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in the Gulf. Since than not a single complaint has been recorded for religious conversation or terrorism related activities. More than four decades they brought trillions to Srilanka not terrorism. Many households depend on remittances from Gulf countries being a popular destination almost 90 per cent of them are working in the Middle East.

    approximately 2 million Sri Lankans working overseas. Private remittances sent to Sri Lanka in 2017 were equivalent to US$ 7.19 billion.
    Following the military defeat of LTTE terrorism in May 2009, the relationship between ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka became seriously fragmented as a result of intensified anti-minority sentiments and violence, with the end of civil war, Muslims have become “another other” and also the target of ethno-religious hatred and violence from the vigilante right-wing ethno-nationalist forces.
    In 2010 Saudi Arabia with Kuwait and Sri Lankan government to fund Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga reservoir project to help boost drinking and agricultural water supplies costing $113 million. Unlike loan on interest to trap and paralyze Srilanka. They could have done it more than that. Pakistan a helping hand over LTTE victory expected nothing but our welfare and unity.

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