At a time when the country is increasingly dependent on the assistance of foreign countries to tackle the deepening economic crisis and the steeply rising cost of living, the Government must objectively address the human rights concerns alleged against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) commencing sittings in Geneva.
Addressing the media in Colombo last Monday, Foreign Minister M. Ali Sabry was quoted by Associated Press (AP), that the Government cannot agree to any “external mechanism, external evidence gathering mechanism, charging citizens outside the country, getting hybrid judges to come and hear the cases, all these are against the Constitution. So we can’t agree to that”.
While welcoming the Foreign Minister’s assertion that ‘Sri Lankan citizens will not be allowed to be charged outside the country’ and ‘foreign judges will not be permitted to sit in judgment over cases in Sri Lanka’, the question that needs to be raised is, how can the Government delegation to UN HRC now refuse UN HRC mechanism to gather evidence of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, having in 2019 allowed foreign agencies to freely investigate 21/4 Easter Sunday attacks? That too without approval of the relevant Sri Lankan Magistrates!
As a respected lawyer, Minister Ali Sabry must surely be aware that none of these foreign non-accountable investigators were authorised by any Magistrate to visit the sites of the explosions, give instructions to the Sri Lankan investigators or to be a part of the investigative team! There were also well known locals, who were not authorised police officers and who too were allowed without any judicial approval to enter protected crime sites, talk to alleged witnesses resulting in polluted investigations. At that time, I cautioned publicly through media statements that those who allowed ‘external investigative mechanisms’ into the country on Easter attacks were virtually laying the groundwork for others to argue later to allow foreign judges to hear cases in Sri Lanka.
The then Minister of Public Security told Parliament on 19 May 2021, during the Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency that the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) were conducting investigations into the Easter attacks together with the CID.
These and other similar agencies are not similar to the UNHRC gathering evidence of human rights violations. If a US Federal intelligence and security agency, whose Government had been notorious for invading several Middle East and regional countries for over 40 years under various pretexts, often false pretexts, could have been allowed to investigate 21/4, what form of credible unbiased investigations could Sri Lankan investigators claim in Courts? Foreign invasion of third world countries was an issue raised by a 21/4 suicide bomber shortly prior to the reprehensible attacks!
In October 2021, British Member of Parliament Sir David Amess was killed, stabbed multiple times at his Essex constituency in the UK. Father Jeffrey Woolnough who rushed to perform the sacrament on the devout Catholic MP was refused access by the Essex Police to perform a simple religious rite. Essex Police told the priest that preserving the integrity of the crime scene was a fundamental part of any investigation and refused entry.
US author William C. Chasey in his 1995 book ‘Pan Am 103-The Lockerbie Cover Up’ reveals how the “United States, Great Britain and Scotland conspired to cover up the true identities of those responsible for the world’s most heinous terrorist bomb explosions in Pan Am 103”. The doomed flight exploded in mid-air 31,000 feet over Lockerbie in Scotland killing all 270 persons on board on 21 December 1988. Chasey exposes how the FBI and the CIA tried to keep out the true story of who did it. Chasey reveals how the crime scene was prostituted to accuse Libya of Muammar Gadhafi fame and that the real master minds were others!
Will Minister Ali Sabry and co-delegate Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe find a way to cooperate with UNHRC than confront, as that would be at present the wiser course for the country, similar to the 22 million Sri Lankans now having to take the IMF decoctions?