Continuing to expand the mandate of the Commission on Missing Persons, President Rajapaksa has appointed two more international experts to the advisory panel to the Commission to which includes Indian Human Rights Activist Professor Avdhash Kaushal and Pakistan legal expert Ahmer B. Soofi.
Soofi is former caretaker federal law minister in Pakistan while Prof. Kaushal is the Chairperson of Dehradun-based non-governmental organization (NGO), Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra.
Prof. Kaushal confirmed his appointment to the advisory panel on the Missing Persons Commission last week, stating that he received a call from President Rajapaksa inviting him to be part of the panel. According to him, President Rajapaksa had visited his NGO in Dehradun on his invitation where over 20 Sri Lankans had pursued a course in Human Rights offered by the NGO.
It was in July that the President expanded the mandate of the Missing Persons Commission after which he initially appointed three members to the advisory panel including British lawyers Desmond de Silva and Geoffrey Nice and U.S. law professor David Crane. The panel headed by de Silva is mandated to advise the Commission upon request and might include other experts appointed by the President as and when necessary.
The expansion has been viewed by many as a measure taken in order to undermine the investigation on war crimes in Sri Lanka carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that is presently underway.
Meanwhile, AFP today reported President Rajapaksa as stating that visas will not be granted to the UN investigators probing into the war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka despite mounting international pressure for the investigators to be granted access into the country.