AG, Army probe alleged war wrongdoings

Lanka to circulate HR protection plan at UNHRC sessions
By Chandani Kirinde

With just a week to go for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva, the Government will review charges of wrongdoing levelled by witnesses before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

Attorney General Eva Wanasundera told the Sunday Times that Police had begun recording statements from persons who gave evidence. This is to gather information which could be examined by officials in the AG’s Department, she said.

The moves come as Sri Lanka prepared to circulate a National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights. The plan was formally released in December last year. Copies are to be made available to delegates taking part in the UNHRC sessions.

Ms. Wanasundera said the LLRC was a commission intended to bring about reconciliation and that those who appeared before it did not give evidence under oath. Hence the follow-up action after the release of the report was for the police to investigate the charges contained in it and inform the AG’s Department for them to proceed further.

She said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent the LLRC report to the AG’s Department with instructions to study it and report back. “We did an analysis and sent the President a report. Based on that we were asked to start the process of implementing it,” she said.

The implementation process would involve Police and military investigations, she added. “They have to investigate and they can record statements from people who came before the LLRC and based on the findings we will start the process of prosecution,” she said.

The two chapters in the LLRC report based on which the AG’s Department will initiate action are the ones dealing with humanitarian law issues and the principal observations and recommendations made by the commission.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Sri Lanka Army announced that a court appointed by Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya was inquiring into the observations made in the LLRC report on alleged civilian casualties during the final phase of the war and on the contents of the Channel-4 video footage.

“A Court of Inquiry is an initial fact-finding inquiry, akin to a non-summary inquiry by a magistrate. If there is a prima facie case against any person from the evidence led before the Court of Inquiry, a General Court Martial is convened to try the alleged offenders,” the Army said.

It said a General Court Martial had the jurisdiction of a High Court Trial-at-Bar and could impose any sentence, including the death penalty.

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