ECONOMYNEXT – The six-man committee appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Committee of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks has a wide mandate but has already been panned by critics.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith whose congregants were the main target of the blasts has said that some members of the committee had limited education.
“Some of them have not even passed their Ordinary Level examinations,” he sniffed demanding that a copy of the report be handed over to him so that he may know what the findings are.
“The report was prepared by people with great intellectual capabilities, how can we let this committee report on that,” the Bishop said.
The committee comprises government Ministers and is headed by the President’s older brother Chamal Rajapaksa. The other members are Johnston Fernando, Udaya Gammanpila, Ramesh Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga and Rohitha Abeygunawardena.
In a media release issued on Monday, the Presidential Secretariat said that the committee has been entrusted with identifying “the overall process including the measures that need to be taken by various agencies and authorities” to avert a repeat of a national catastrophe of such magnitude.
The release added that the members were “selected considering factors such as their political maturity, experience and high level of knowledge in various fields.”
“These recommendations cannot be successfully implemented by any entity single-handedly,” the release said.
The President’s office said that events such as this “opens the door to external interference that is detrimental to the country’s sovereignty and stability. In order to ensure peace and security as well as economic prosperity within the territory of the State of Sri Lanka, all avenues leading to recurrence of such extremist violence must entirely be closed.”
It went on to say this “requires a complete cessation of religious extremism and associated terrorist violence, hate speech aiming different ethnic communities and foreign funding for such groups.”
The statement noted that the PCoI has “identified what each state institution and authority should do and the level of priority to be given to each task to achieve these broad objectives. If the existing administrative machinery is not adequate to follow the recommended course of action, necessary amendments need to be made in the administrative mechanism. The responsibility entrusted with the Parliamentary Committee appointed by the President is to study in-depth the content of the Report of the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks and to report on how action should be taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and to ensure long-lasting peace, security and stability in Sri Lanka.”
Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya Member of Parliament Manusha Nanayakkara criticized the process charging that the President has appointed a committee so that he can implement what he wants from the recommendations.
“Is it that the government is trying to protect the masterminds behind the attacks? Why doesn’t the government allow Zaharan’s wife to finish her testimony to relate what led up to the attack? Why don’t they bring back Sara the wife of one of the attackers from India and question her?” he asked.
The President’s office says the “prosecution and trial of the accused as per the recommendations of the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks will take place in accordance with the standard judicial procedures.” (Colombo, February 23, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana