27 May, 2022


Rescind Sir Desmond De Silva’s Appointment: Civil Society Tells Maithripala

Sending an open letter to the President, 38 Civil Society activists and 11 organisations have today urged President Maithripala Sirisena to rescind Sir Desmond De Silva’s appointment as Chairman of the Advisory Panel of international lawyers hired by the Rajapaksa government forthwith and to take steps to ensure the independence and integrity of state institutions.

We publish below the letter in full;

04th August, 2015

His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena,
President of Sri Lanka
Your Excellency,

We the undersigned members of Sri Lankan civil society write to you pursuant to credible information made available to us that the Bar Standards Board of the United Kingdom has decided to initiate a formal investigation into the conduct of Sir Desmond de Silva with respect to his role in Sri Lanka. This investigation commenced on 20 July 2015.

Sir Desmond de Silva

Sir Desmond de Silva

In this respect, we unreservedly condemn your government’s continued retention of the Advisory Panel of international lawyers hired by the Rajapaksa government to defend its record. This Panel has further discredited a Commission of Inquiry that has failed to earn the confidence of victims and overburdened it with a mandate that was meant to address the overwhelming cases of missing persons from across Sri Lanka, raising serious questions about the willingness of the government to address the issue of enforced disappearances. We were therefore shocked that your government – several Ministers of which were in the past scathingly critical of the lack of independence of these lawyers and the astronomical fees paid to them – has continued to retain the Advisory Panel chaired by Sir Desmond de Silva.

We understand that Sir Desmond was – prior to being appointed to the Advisory Panel – retained by the Rajapaksa government to provide advice concerning, among others, that government’s own responsibility for international crimes. Upon producing a written opinion to the Rajapaksa government, Sir Desmond was appointed thereafter to chair the Advisory Panel.

Despite this, your government continues to retain him as an advisor to a Commission supposed to provide answers to deeply anguished victims. Your government’s continuation of Rajapaksa administration policies is dangerous and utterly incompatible with a stated commitment to the rule of law and good governance. Sir Desmond’s continued role as Chairman of the Advisory Panel is simply untenable in light of a pending formal investigation being conducted against him by the Bar Standards Board. In light of these serious concerns, we urge you to rescind Sir Desmond’s appointment forthwith and to take steps to ensure the independence and integrity of state institutions.

CC: Hon. Prime Minister
Hon. Minister of External Affairs
Sir Desmond de Silva
Mr. Maxwell Paranagama
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. Pablo de Grieff – United Nations Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence



Ameer M. Faaiz – Attorney-at-law
Anthony Jesudasan
Aruni Jayakody
B. Gowthaman – Attorney-at-law
Bhavani Fonseka – Attorney-at-law
Bishop Duleep de Chickera
Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
Brito Fernando
Damaris Wickremesekera
Dr. A.C. Visvalingam
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Dr. Philip Setunga
Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran
Gajen Mahendra
Gamini Jayaweera
Gamini Viyangoda – Writer & Journalist
Godfrey Yogarajah
Isabelle Lassee
K. Aingkaran – HRD & Attorney-at-law
K.S. Ratnavale – Attorney-at-law
Kusal Perera – Journalist
Marisa de Silva
Nalini Ratnarajah
Nichola Emmanuel
Niran Anketell – Attorney-at-law
Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare
Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya
Prof. Savitri Gunesekera
Pulasthi Hewamanna
R.M.B Senanayake – Retired CCS
Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
Rosanna Flamer
Ruki Fernando
Sampath Samarakoon
Shreen Abdul Saroor
Udaya Kalupathirana


Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CPPHR), Trincomalee
Committee for Democracy and Justice
Equal Ground
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
Kandy Citizens Front
Religious Liberty Commission
Resource Center for Community Groups
Right to Life (R2L) Human Rights Centre
South Asian Centre for Legal Studies
World Evangelical Alliance

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Latest comments

  • 13

    Can I be a signatory as well to the above letter?

    • 6

      Best not, don’t you think?

    • 5

      Don’t see why not, you’d be in good company with a bunch of nobodies :D

  • 4

    If there is any deceit in a document, it should be fraud.

    Dr. Phillip Setunga – hello, from when and where you were confered this Doctorrate????????? Was it God given ????????
    This make everyone a JOKER in the that pack of names including the God’s men on whom God has conferred Divine Retirement.

    Is it correct to say that there is typo error here??????????
    Should not this name be read as ” Ex – Rev. Phillip Setunga, later of AHRC fame………….
    Can he tell this forum how many of his ex-colleagues Catholic Priest visit him ??????????????????
    Is’nt he a beneficiary of the AHRC?


    Fazl Muhammed……… being anti Rajapakshes is one thing. before you clamour to place your signature, kindly expose who this Phillip Setunga is and why he is hiding behind a “Doctorrate”

    This is not the first time Phillip Setunga has passed off as a Doctor.

    If confirmation is needed, all that one has to do is to contact the Catholic Chuch of Sri Lanka (Pamunugama Parish) or pass this name over to Basil fernando of AHRC for him to have a good chuckle.

    • 2

      you’ve tried to undermine and distort the bigger picture here by nit picking irrelevant small issues , who cares whether Mr/Rev Phillip Setunga has got a P.hD or not , what matters is , content of the letter ! who is this high profile so called ” Sir” Desmond ? is he a trustworthy, honourable person to represent Sri lanka ? is it true that he is under a pending formal investigation by the Bar Standards Board? can SL afford to have a such a dodgy character in light of an International investigation ?

      PS: As a rule of thumb , whoever closely associated / associates with the Mafia king and his family can’t be taken seriously , they are all white collar criminals, period.

  • 7

    Oops something has rubbed off on Sir Desmond him after trying to polish a turd. Never good to be associated with a war criminal when you are trying to be a respectable QC

  • 4

    Host this on line for interested parties to sign-in. I personally would.

  • 2

    All the Devotees of the Christian church is against this Gentleman.

    There is one muslim at the top. that is just to hide the christian Flavour.

    What happened ?

    Did he say that there is no Almighty and Jesus was just a humanitarian brought to fame by the Roman Kingdom ?

  • 1

    Srilal – If you need to know more about Sir desmond de Silva, why not ask Ranil and the UNP? They know about their generations better.

    Catholic action at its best despite S.J.Emmanuel destroying the basis of the Christian/Catholic faith.

    Reviving the Roman Kingdom and now attempt to revive the Lankan Kingdom to their own taste..

    • 0

      Thondamannar ,

      what are you on about ? has it got to do with Google Mudiansilage Thumulle wimale’s international conspiracy theory or Galgodatthe Gnasara’s Christian fundamental freak story ? either way , i’m not interested at all , perhaps Prof Nalin silva’s crazy clan would be a better bet for that sort of baloney.going back to our original story , that Desmond geezer , is he ,what he claiming to be ? since the investigation had already started ,i guess we wouldn’t have to wait too long to find out who is telling the truth .

  • 2

    Sir Desmond a Q.C. and a member of the Privy Council brought fame to SL. His grand father was Proctor- Politician George E de Silva of Kandy , whose statue stands in the park near the clock Tower…also famous for Malaprops like Udurawana jokes of our generation. Sir Desmond’s father was our Ambassador to France , who spoke French, Mr Frdrick de Silva , Lawyer, Kandy. Sir Desmond has mixed Scottish blood and was married to a Yougoslavian Princess and a 3rd generation relative of Queen Victoria.

    Just because the Tamil Diaspora and MR’s opponents try to bring him to disrepute , only because he did work for the previous Govt, nothing will happen. He is the most experienced and respected English and International Criminal Lawyer today, at the age of 76. He was retained even by the UNO as a prosecutor.

    Some are jealous of him.

    • 1

      Wow , what an impressive resume for a change ? so this high profile character is one of them , i mean a right royal one, not just a Royal but also a prominent UN/international lawyer , but it does beg the question , has he lived up to the expected norms and ethics of his professional life as well as royal status ? hasn’t he doubled dipped by accepting a post as an Advisory Panel of international lawyers to defend Srilanka’s record while working as a consultant for Mahinda’s murderous junta regime previously ? why would the Bar Standards Board of the United Kingdom decides to initiate a formal investigation into his conduct then ? please don’t try to bring the Tamil Diaspora panacea again , British system is far more superior than our rotten one here ;hence,i guess we will have to wait for a while to find out the outcome of the finding .

      • 1


        Here is an important information on Sir Desmond De Silva who investigated the murder of Pat Finucane which Chanakya has selectively over looked:

        Pat Finucane’s widow calls de Silva report ‘a whitewash’
        Geraldine Finucane says British government ‘engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband’
        Owen Bowcott

        Wednesday 12 December 2012

        On the evening of Sunday 12 February 1989, the Finucane family were sitting together for dinner in their north Belfast home when loyalist gunmen sledge-hammered their way into the house and shot Patrick Finucane dead.

        On Wednesday afternoon, the family were united again to deliver their reaction to the latest in a long series of investigations into one of Northern Ireland’s most controversial killings.

        Sir Desmond de Silva’s “Report of the Patrick Finucane Review” offered scant relief for Geraldine Finucane, who has campaigned for more than two decades for a public inquiry into the murder of her husband.

        After watching David Cameron deliver his statement to the House of Commons, she told a press conference at Westminster that the latest report into the killing was a “sham” and a “whitewash”.

        “It’s a report into which we have had no input,” she said. “The British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband. At every turn it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required – to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its cabinet and ministers, to the army, to the intelligence services and to itself.

        “At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused.

        “The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.

        “This report is a sham, this report is a whitewash, this report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth.”

        Finucane insisted that the family came to London prepared to judge the report with “an open mind” and with “a faint hope” that their misgivings would be proved wrong.

        But she added: “I regret to say that once again we have been proved right.” The review has been “compiled by a lawyer with strong links to the Conservative party who was appointed by the Conservative government without consultation”.

        Finucane said she accepted the prime minister’s apology but suggested he had little choice but to offer one. “He is a human being. He probably does think it is an atrocious act. But unfortunately he is quite removed from Northern Ireland or what went on in the late 80s. So maybe it isn’t very hard for him to apologise.

        “I will give him the benefit of the doubt and accept the apology but it doesn’t go far enough because I don’t really know what he is apologising for.”

        But Michael Finucane, the eldest son who has followed his father into the legal profession, acknowledged that some new elements had been uncovered by the report.

        “This is another piece of the jigsaw,” he said. “The report needs to be read and the [intelligence] documents studied. They are bare and cold, containing more shocking facts. That can be used to further our case for a public inquiry.

        “David Cameron referred repeatedly in the [Commons] to what went wrong here,” but, Michael Finucane said, “nothing went wrong here”.

        “This is exactly what it was designed to do: to improve and focus the targeting abilities of loyalist paramilitaries over many years.

        “A thorn in the side of the authorities could be removed, killed, in circumstances where the state could deny any responsibility.”

        There were probably “hundreds of others” killed in similar circumstances, he added.

        He believed there would be a public inquiry if Labour won the next UK general election as he expected the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, to “keep his word” on the need for one.


        Pat Finucane ‘sham process hid inquiry decision’
        14 May 2015

        The government had already decided to rule out a public inquiry into the 1989 killing of solicitor Pat Finucane but staged a “sham process” to conceal this, the High Court has heard.
        His widow is challenging PM David Cameron’s decision in 2011 to instead commission a QC to review the case.
        Her barrister said then-Secretary of State Owen Paterson “went through the motions” to try to avoid legal action.
        He said managing political fall-out from Dublin and the US was the focus.

        Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife Geraldine and their children at their north Belfast home in February 1989. His murder has been surrounded by claims of security force collusion with the loyalist paramilitary killers.

        The prime minister commissioned QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review all documents relating to the case and produce a narrative of what happened.

        In December 2012 Sir Desmond’s report confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and that it should have been prevented.

        However, it concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”.

        The Finucane family rejected the findings as a whitewash.
        During a four-day judicial review hearing in Belfast – where judgement was expected to be reserved – it was claimed that the killing was part of a British state engagement in terrorism through loyalist groupings.

        According to Mrs Finucane’s case, the government unlawfully reneged on a commitment to hold a public inquiry.
        Pledges to set up such a tribunal, based on the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years, the court heard.

        Counsel for the secretary of state argued that he was legally entitled to review any commitment by a previous administration.
        Issues about cost and speed had to be taken into account when a further decision on how to deal with the case was taken following a six-year passage of time.

        On Thursday, a barrister for Mrs Finucane said Mr Paterson had made it clear he was against any more public inquiries “full stop”.

        The barrister said that “an elaborate process of consultation” was carried out following legal advice.

        “He had committed himself in opposition to having no more costly, open-ended inquiries,” he said.
        “They go through the motions.”


  • 0

    The problem seems to be allegations by victimised. certain tigers were brainwashed. They will do anything. Setups and false evidence is created for their cause. Admitedly some may be true. But with the time lag it is not possible to prove. The benifiyt of doubt is for the accused. Are we expected to give up our defence and start from scratch. The English diaspora is voriferace for their cause.

    We must concentrate our energy on compensation and correction of structure. Women and children are being protected abnd there is freed. Restitution must be made. If TNA ignored the fact that their people were being raped and killed they are responsible to.
    Support the new legistlature and implemantation. Drug and human traficin for gian and contribution to Tiger funds must stop.
    Let us think what can be done. Ask forgiveness where we did wrong.
    We remember Lakshman Wickremesinghe asking forgiveness for wrongs to the tamils. Dont alienate sinhala people who are trying to ruight wrongs. dont alieniate the maha sangha for political gain.

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