President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa made a giant leap towards dictatorship for life on Sunday, January 31, 2021 appointing a Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (SPCoI) to determine whether politicians and public servants implicated by his Political Victimisation Commission should lose their civic rights.
A gazette extraordinary, dated January 29, 2021 established the Special PCoI which to take the Political Victimization Commission to the next level of persecution against Nandasena Rajapaksa’s political opponents. The Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry will be chaired by Supreme Court Justice Dhammika Samarakoon and will also comprise SC Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe and Court of Appeal Judge Ratnapriya Gurusinghe.
Colombo Telegraph learns that President Nandasena Rajapaksa has decided to utilize a Special Commission of Inquiry to take action against those the PCoI on Political Victimization has recommended for punishment is a result of the Attorney General repeatedly clashing with the Abeyratne Commission on overstepping its mandate by going into cases currently on trial in the High Court.
On being ordered to cease currently ongoing trials, AG Dappula De Livera refused to do the Commission’s bidding and publicly rebuked the Abeyratne Commission’s request. The Abeyratne Commission attempted to get the AG to suspend trials into the abduction of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, Ali Roshan the elephant trafficker and the Navy abductions case.
In terms of Article 81 of the Constitution once a Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry recommends individuals should be subjected to “civic disability” (loss of civic rights), Parliament must pass a resolution by a two third majority to strip that individual of civic rights for a maximum period of seven years and expel such a person from Parliament. The resolution must be introduced to Parliament by the Prime Minister.
Not since JR Jayewardene and his 5/6ths majority in Parliament has any executive President attempted such a blatantly despotic maneuver to decimate the opposition.
Tellingly, Sajith Premadasa the Opposition Leader whose surreptitious dealings with the Nandasena Regime has recently been in the spotlight is not listed for persecution through the Special PCoI.
Remarkably the main opposition SJB whose senior members are facing prosecution and jail time based on the recommendations of the Upali Abeyratne PCoI on Political Victimization and now a loss of civic rights, is yet to take a strong and credible stand on the political witch-hunt. However the JVP and pro-democracy organisation Lawyers for Democracy are expected to challenge the findings of the Abeyratne PCoI on Political Victimization in court.
The PCoI on Political Victimisation singled out key opposition MPs for prosecution, writing an entire chapter on the Anti Corruption Secretariat that functioned by order of the Cabinet of Ministers during the Yahapalanaya Government.
The loss of civic rights would render all these politicians, which together form the core of the current opposition to Rajapaksa rule, would not be eligible to vote, and therefore also ineligible to contest for and hold public office. In the immediate term except in the cases of Mangala Samaraweera and Malik Samarawickrema, the loss of their civic rights would expel the MPs from the current Parliament. Samaraweera and Samarawickrema did not contest the 2020 parliamentary polls and are not current members of Parliament.
Government sources told Colombo Telegraph that the intention is to pursue politicians through the Special PCoI but others singled out for prosecution by the Political Victimisation Commission would have the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads instead. In the list of those recommended for punishment by the Political Victimisation are current Rajapaksa stalwarts including retired members of the police and armed forces. At least two former Foreign Secretaries, several diplomats and at least two lawyers attached to the Attorney General’s Department have also been recommended for prosecution by the Abeyratne commission which handed over its report to President Nandasena Rajapaksa in December 2020.
The list of individuals on the chopping block via the brand new SPCoI are as follows:
Patali Champika Ranawaka
Anura Kumara Dissanayake
Ajith P Perera
Jayampathi Wickremaratne – President’s Counsel
Wasantha Navaratne Bandara – President’s Counsel
Thusith Mudalige – Additional Solicitor General, AG’s Department
Upul Jayasuriya – President’s Counsel
Dilrukshi Dias Bandaranayake – President’s Counsel, former Solicitor General
Janaka Bandara – Senior State Counsel AG’s Department
Shani Abeysekera – SSP, Former CID Director
B.S. Tissera – ASP, Former CID
Ravi Waidyalankara – SDIG FCID
Nishantha Silva – IP, Former CID OIC
Ravi Seneviratne – SDIG, former CID
Ravindra Wijeguneratne – Admiral, Former Navy Commander
JJ Ranasinghe – Rear Admiral SLN
S.A. Khan – Former Ambassador to the UAE
C.A.H.M. Wijeratne – Former Director General Legal, MFA & Ambassador for Sri Lanka to Poland