Presidential Commission report not made public even after six years

By Subashini Samaranayake


The report of the Mahanama Tilakaratne commission appointed in 2011 to probe the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) incident, where a young FTZ worker was shot dead by the police during a protest has not yet been released.

Joint Secretary of the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union Anton Marcus said they had written to the Information Officer at the Presidential Secretariat on May 02, 2017, requesting an official copy of the report at issue within 14 days.

 "We have not received any reply. Not even an acknowledgment," he told The Island.

 In 2011. former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a one-man commission chaired by retired judge Mahanama Thilakaratne to investigate a police crackdown on a protest at the Katunayake FTZ against a controversial private sector pension scheme.

The violence led to the killing of young FTZ worker named Roshen Chanaka.

Marcus said that he had also testified before the commission. "I named those responsible for the violence," he said. His union had received an unofficial copy of the commission report and had written to President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa earlier for an official version.

They had been waiting after six years for the report to be made public, Marcus said.

The Information Officer at the Presidential Secretariat was not available for comment. 

Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Karunarathna Paranawithana said that if the Information Officer at a particular Public Authority did not respond within the stipulated time, the concerned party should directly write to the Right to Information Commission seeking redress.

Asked what had caused the delay in releasing Mahanama Thilakaratne report, the Deputy Minister said it was necessary to check if the particular document could be made public.

 Information Officer of the Transparency International Sri Lanka, Kirthi Jayatilake, contacted for comment, said they had not received a written RTI request from  Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union. "We need a formal request from the concerned party to act upon," he said.

 The Right to Information Act (RTI) came into effect in February 2017 with a promise of open government-citizens active participation in governance, and accountability to the people of the country.

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