The former Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy now says, she did receive the Special Rapporteur Suntheralingam’s report on high profile human rights violations, and ordered it to be published.
Last night she states further; “contrary to the suggestions made in the comments, at no time did I seek or receive endorsement from the Sri Lankan government for any of my UN appointments. Please publish this as your report has done unnecessary damage, since it seems to imply that we were pressurized to suppress the report and that we succumbed to that pressure.”
When asked for her opinion on the non-publication of the report, she said “It is not proper to comment on the actions of the HRC Commissions that came after me.”
Two days ago, Dr. Coomaraswamy told Colombo Telegraph that Dr. Deepika (Udagama) had also confirmed that the report was not finalized when they left the HRC. “Neither she nor I can remember the contents and if it had been finalized we would surely have remembered,” Dr. Coomaraswamy said.
Yesterday the Colombo Telegraph has published the unpublished report commissioned by the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission in 2006 which had explicitly concluded that security forces personnel were involved in several high profile human rights violations including the killing of five students in Trincomalee in January 2006 and the abduction on 31 January 2006.
We publish below our correspondence with Dr Coomaraswamy;
From Dr Coomaraswamy to Colombo Telegraph;
After your email I researched this matter of the Special rapporteur’s report of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on the killing of the Trincomalee five. Suriya Wickremesinghe in her tribute to Mr. Suntheralingam which actually can be found on your website (November 7th 2013) had this to say- taken from what Mr. Suntheralingam told her
‘In January 2006 Suntheralingam was, with MCM Iqbal and Visakha Dharmadasa assisting, appointed by the Human Right Commission of Sri Lanka to look into conflict related killings taking place during the ceasefire. High profile cases so examined into were the abduction of the Tamil rehabilitation Organisation staff, the killing of five students at Trincomalee, the rape and murder of Elyathambi Tharshini, the killing of Kattankudy Divisional Secretary ALM Faleel and the killings at the Akkaraipathu Mosque. The report which had important conclusions and recommendations was HANDED OVER TO THE CHAIRPERSON ON HER LAST DAY OF OFFICE AND ORDERED TO BE PUBLISHED’
As you know I left for New York that night. I did not have time to review the contents nor did the rest of the Commission. We expected the Commission that followed to do the right thing. Please also note that contrary to the suggestions made in the comments at no time did I seek or receive endorsement from the Sri Lankan government for any of my UN appointments. Please publish this as your report has done unnecessary damage since it seems to imply that we were pressurized to suppress the report and that we succumbed to that pressure. I am sorry I did not bring this to your attention earlier-RC”
From Colombo Telegraph to Dr Coomaraswamy;
To the best of your recollection, when did you resign as Chairperson of the SL HRC. Was it on or about the 15th April, 2006?
In Suriya Wickramasinge’s account of the matter, in her obituatary for Mr. Sundaralingam, she writes, the report was, “ORDERED TO BE PUBLISHED”. Did you, as Chairperson order its publication? Who ordered its publication? Would Mr. Sundaralingam have the authority to order its publication? If indeed, you “As you know I left for New York that night. I did not have time to review the contents nor did the rest of the Commission,” how could it be that you ordered its publication?
The public record indicates that Justice P Ramanathan was appointed commissioner after your resignation. After his death in Dec. 2006, Justice Anandacoomarasway was appointed commissioner. Are you aware the report of the SL HRC for 2006 (http://hrcsl.lk/PFF/2006%20&%202007%20%20HRC%20Annual%20Report.pdf), makes no mention of the Sundaralingam report. Would you comment on this omission, even if you were unaware of the omission up until now?
To the best of your knowledge did other sitting commissioners, including Dr. Udugama, who you have cited in the previous email, protest the omission of the Sundaraligam report in the annual report of 2006?
Quite apart from its mention or omission in an annual report, would you comment on the non publication of the report?
From Dr Coomaraswamy to Colombo Telegraph;
The term of my Human Rights Commission ended on the 31st of March 2006. The term for all the Commissioners ended up on that date, including Ms. Udagama. I left for New York that night and took up my posting on the 15th of April at the United Nations.
I have now spoken to individuals both at HRC and some of the investigator team and they confirm that all the members of the suntheralingam investigation came to see me on the 31st and handed over the report. I said I had no time to read it but given its importance called the secretary to the Commission and in the presence of the investigators ordered him to have it published.
It is not proper to comment on the actions of the HRC Commissions that came after me.