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PCoI report on Easter Sunday carnage: AG won’t be given ‘sensitive’ volumes

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GL admits flaws , appreciates recommendations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Presidential Secretariat has declined to release 22 volumes (each containing about 600 pages) of proceedings to Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, on the advice of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) that probed the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Authoritative sources told The Island that of the 87 volumes, the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (2) had sent only 65 to the AG. The Attorney General has been informed that the PCoI is of the opinion that 22 volumes shouldn’t be disclosed due to the sensitive nature of the information therein relating to national security.

The Attorney General received the final volume of the report from the PCoI last week.

There were shortcomings in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) report on the Easter Sunday carnage in 2019, but it couldn’t be discarded, Education Minister and SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris told the media on Monday (1).

 Fielding questions at the weekly media briefing at Battaramulla, Prof. Peiris acknowledged the flaws while emphasising the need to go ahead with the judicial proceedings.

 Prof. Peiris said that the PCoI made far reaching recommendations that had to be dealt by the Office of the President (executive), legislature and the judiciary. In addition to them, there were specific recommendations to the Attorney General’s Department and the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption).

 The minister stressed that deficiencies in the P CoI report certainly made a valuable contribution towards helping the government to ascertain the gruesome truth.

Pressed by the media for an explanation regarding the appointment of a six-member ministerial committee to deal with the P CoI report, Prof. Peiris said that the government needed to be guided by some guidelines. “The P CoI report didn’t in any way reflect the government stand. It is an independent body. Therefore, the government needs to agree on a formula in this regard. The ministerial committee will make recommendations and advice the government how to proceed.”

 Prof. Peiris made reference to some ‘clouded’ recommendations among some far reaching ones.

 Prof. Peiris dismissed the notion that the P CoI had recommended specific actions against various persons and organizations named in the report. The P CoI lacked such power; Prof. Peiris explained that the Attorney General would move court on behalf of the government. The findings made by the P CoI would be used in the process, Prof. Peiris said. The minister assured the public the government wouldn’t interfere in the investigations.

  The SLPP Chairman rejected accusations that the government exploited the P CoI report to undermine coalition partner SLFP. Such criticism was unfair as the government had nothing to do with the setting up of the P CoI in the run-up to the Nov 2019 presidential election.

 The then President and SLFP leader Maithripla Sirisena formed the P CoI close on the heels of Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that probed the Easter Sunday carnage handing over its report in the third week of Oct 2019.

 Prof. Peiris appreciated the recommendations made in respect of the education sector. The Minister said that the failure to ensure strict controls on madrasas could cause a catastrophe.

 One-time External Affairs Minister said that the government wanted to ensure no holds barred investigation into the worst atrocity since the conclusion of the war in May 2009. The ministerial committee would facilitate the government initiative, the minister said, urging the Opposition not to politicize the issue at hand.

 Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris said that the SLPP would make its position clear on the P CoI report after having studied it. The Minister criticized efforts made by some persons with vested interests to condemn the report. Those who had been affected by P CoI’s findings and recommendations were likely to attack it, the minister said. The public wouldn’t be deceived by such criticism, the minister said, underscoring the fact that Easter Sunday carnage could have been thwarted if the previous government responded sensibly to specific intelligence received from India. Unfortunately, they played ‘pandu’ with national security at the expense of the public.

 Nearly 270 persons perished in near simultaneous attacks. Approximately 500 others received injuries and quite a number of  them maimed for life.

 

 



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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign

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… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds

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Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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