Frustrated by the what he called the Government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Investigation appointed to investigate the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks, he said the Government had appointed a panel comprising their own Government MPs in a futile exercise in order to sweep the recommendations of the Commission under the carpet.
“As indicated in the Presidential Commission report, recommended for prosecution, nothing has happened up to now. We feel that the Government is protecting those responsible for their own self-interest and their political gain which is unacceptable. If the Presidential Commission has recommended legal action, against some of the top officers, political leaders for inaction for knowing about the attacks and not doing anything to prevent it, and if they are called culpable responsibility and they should be prosecuted, it is not being implemented. A secret deal has been worked out by the Government with these parties and party leaders, politicians and officers to keep this thing behind locked doors, which is not fair by the people who suffered due to these attacks,” he said.
Addressing a media briefing in Colombo yesterday, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith expressed dissatisfaction over the Government’s failure to act on the Presidential Commission report, adding that the Government in an illogical move had appointed a panel consisting of Government MPs to look into how the Commission recommendations could be implemented. “Then what is the purpose of having a Presidential Commission?,” he asked.
The Cardinal said that only one volume of the Presidential Commission report was given to them and despite him writing to the President requesting for the rest of the volumes, so far he had not received a response from the President.
“We studied this document and also the some statements made by certain Parliamentarians of different political parties during the debate in Parliament and also independent information that reached us from various sources. Based on all this information we wrote to the President on July 13 asking for a comprehensive inquiry into this matter and also taking into account some of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission, to ensure that justice is meted out to the families of the victims and all those who were injured in this incident. But, on August 5 we received a reply, after about 25 days. That too not by the President nor the Prime Minister, but by Attorney-At-Law Hariguptha Rohanadheera, who claims that he is the Director General for Law at the Presidential Secretariat basically outlining how they have distributed the Presidential Commission report. Then at one point he outlines the appointment of the committee that was appointed. But, we reject this committee. The Presidential Commission comprises eminent persons who are intelligent and familiar with the law. They have gone through the exercise of investigating the incident for more than one year, investigating, questioning people and making analysis. Then the Committee comprises members of one political orientation, who basically represent the Government. There is no fairness in this group. This group has been appointed to sit in judgement over the recommendations of the Presidential Commission and give instructions to the relevant people to implement these decisions according to a plan the ministers themselves will devise. This is unacceptable to us,” the Cardinal added.
The Archbishop expressed concern that this process lacks transparency, adding it cannot be guaranteed that justice would be served as it is now a political exercise. He said that although the Presidential Commission had recommended the former President and top level police and intelligence officers be prosecuted, nothing has happened up to now.
“We feel that the Government is protecting them, for their own self-interest. Because it is the responsibility of the political leadership that if they come to know that there is going to be a serious attack on the citizens of this country, it is the responsibility of the President, the Prime Minister, the Ministers and all those other people who are sitting in responsible positions to protect the lives of the people, which they have not done. Therefore, they are culpable and they cannot hide behind political party screens and we cannot accept this. We want all the recommendations of the Presidential Commission implemented as soon as possible and there cannot be any exceptions. If there are any exceptions, then the President who proclaimed publicly that he will bring in one country, one rule, will have one country and two rules- one rule for the powerful and another for the less powerful. That is not acceptable behaviour and therefore, we are asking for justice.”
Director, National Catholic Center for Social Communications Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, said that both the Good Governance regime and the present Government have both used the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks for their own political advantage throughout the past two years. He said that both these Governments have a responsibility to ensure that justice is meted out to the victims and their families.