By Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe –
The entire value of the LLRC report rests upon two conditions: First, whether it addresses the core issues raised by allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes and crimes against nature and humanity. The core issues include targeting civilians, shelling of No-Fire Zones and hospitals, atrocities such as rape, torture, mutilation and killing of prisoners of war, withholding basic relief, and killing of those who surrendered. Second, whether the Commission has defined clear, specific and transparent mechanisms for an independent investigation that would establish accountability. One could, and some would, argue that these two conditions go beyond the specific mandate of the LLRC. In which case, the whole exercise would be just a whitewash and a tactic of procrastination. The counter reply would be to ask, if these conditions go beyond the official mandate, why was the mandate so crafted?
It is not up to the Commission itself to judge on specific issues, such as whether civilians were targeted or whether any of the violations mentioned above were actually committed. That is to be established by an independent investigation that would accord with international standards and norms. The independence of the Commission is questioned since it was appointed by the State, which is itself to be investigated, and where the moral legitimacy of its composition is, indeed, dubious, given that it has been led by trusted servants of the State, if even of the Regime. It is like relying on a suspected murderer to ascertain whether the said murder was committed and whether he is guilty. It is akin to mandating the family of the murderer to conduct an investigation into the culpability of one of its indebted members. Such an exercise would be a ludicrous mockery of justice that should enter the Guinness Book of Infamous Records. The crux of the matter is that such an exercise brings into question the whole concept of jurisprudence, governance and accountability. The whole foundation of jurisprudence rests upon the independence, impartiality, objectivity and commitment of the adjudicators to establish the truth through the most exhaustive and comprehensive investigative process, where witnesses and victims have the unfettered freedom to testify, without fear of reprisal. Sorry, this is certainly not the culture of jurisprudence in the country, where the independence of the judiciary has been fatally compromised, ala the 18th Amendment and by the caliber of those who command the halls of Justice. I mean, the former Chief Justice is to be investigated by the State for abuse of office and prejudicial malice! So, I cannot be singularly charged with contempt. I could face an even more decisive consequence.
Instead of defining the mechanism for an independent and accountable investigation, the Commission has left it open for the Executive President to decide on the follow-up actions to be taken. This has resulted in a comic-circus exercise where the President has stated that any particular violation identified by the Commission would be investigated by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the State. Here, in a Land where the Attorney General withdraws cases against alleged rapists and murderers , even when evidence points to their culpability, while Retd. General Sarath Fonseka is incarcerated for the most unsubstantiated allegations of ‘rumor-mongering’ to cause disrepute to the State and incite social unrest! Here, I stand with the dissenting judge on the “White Flag” case. If the alleged Hi-Corp case is to be considered, then, by all means, dispense the very same justice to all those who have been found guilty of gross corruption by none other than COPE, much beyond anything that the General may have dreamed of, yet, who enjoy freedom as Members of Parliament, who represent the Regime. I carry no torch for the good General, yet, I demand justice and decency. Then again, no such Presidential Commissions of Inquiry have led to justice and accountability. What about justice for Lasantha, RaviRaj, Joseph Pararajasingham, 17 humanitarian workers and so many others? This whole process of Presidential inquiry and investigation has been a tool of deception, a means of subverting the Rule of Law, a method of manipulating the Constitution, wherein a culture of impunity and despotism rules under the cover of “democracy”.
Some people have latched on to some ‘positive’ aspects of the report, such as the admission that the root causes of the conflict lies in the fact that no government, and the State as a whole, has failed to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. Hello? This has now been acknowledged by every sane and decent citizen in this country and the world. Some enticing icing on a cake of deadly venomous poison? Nazism came to power and ruled through a bourgeois democratic constitution. Let us not be deceived and manipulated.
Writer is the secretary of the Ceylon Communist Party- Maoist