Bribery Commission still defunct while complaints pile up

HRC meeting boycotted by Opposition Leader and his nominee
By Chandani Kirinde

While President Mahinda Rajapaksa has got the assent of the three Government members of the Parliamentary Council which was set up under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution for persons to be appointed to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), failure to expedite the appointment of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption has resulted in nearly 1,500 new complaints piling up there.

Last Wednesday’s meeting of the Council where the President’s nominees to the HRC were given consent??? was boycotted by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who is an ex-officio member of the Council and his nominee UNP MP D.M.Swaminathan.

The five member council consists of the Speaker and Prime Minister, both ex-officio members while the Government nominee is Parliamentarian A.H.M.Azwer.

Mr. Swaminathan confirmed that he had been informed by the Secretary General of Parliament that a meeting had been scheduled for last Wednesday but he did not attend. Asked why he did not attend, Mr., Swaminathan said that he had been advised by the Opposition Leader not to attend.

Mr.Azwer told the Sunday Times that the three Government members had met and given their assent to the names sent to them by the President. “We scrutinized the names and were satisfied with them. Hence our approval has been conveyed to the President by the Secretary General of Parliament,” he said.

The five members who will be appointed to the Human Rights Commission are retired Supreme Court Judge Priyantha Perera, a former Inspector General of Police T.Anandarajah, retired Government Analyst Ananda Mendis, physician Bernard Soysa and Mrs. Jazeema Ismail.

Meanwhile Bribery Commission Director General Lakshmi Jayawickrema told the Sunday Times that since March, 2010, when the term of the previous commissioners lapsed, they had received 1,214 complaints. Within the first one and half months of these years, we have received an additional 215 complaints,” she said.

However, she was not empowered to look into new complaints received as such a directive has to come from the Commissioners and as no new appointment have been made, the cases have piled up, she explained.

The other commissions to which appointments too have been made include the Public Service Commission, the National Police Commission, the Finance Commission, the Elections Commission and the Delimitation Commission.

Under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed in Parliament in September last year, the sole authority of appointing members of the commission is vested with the President and while he is needed to seek the observations of the Council, its decisions are not binding.

The Parliamentary Council replaced the Constitutional Council (CC) which was set up under the 17th Amendment and made approval of names of nominees to the Commissions mandatory by the ten-member CC.

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