Foreign Role in Probes is not New to Sri Lanka

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 31, 2022, 4:48

Many times in the last 50 years, international judges and investigators have been called upon to appear and take part in the judicial system of Sri Lanka. This seems to be a regular occurrence for the South Asian country with Foreign lawyers, judges, and investigators' appearing in various landmark cases in Sri Lanka, as indicated in a UN report on alleged human rights breaches in Sri Lanka and later in a draught resolution co-sponsored by the United States, this has been nothing unusual for the South Asian country.

Involvements by foreign authorities in Sri Lanka

• A three-member Commission of Inquiry was created to probe into the assassination of former Premier S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was established in June 1963. It included Egyptian and Ghanaian judges. Two years later, the panel's findings were released, concluding that no organized group was "directly or indirectly" involved in the plot.

• When Lalith Athulathmudali, the head of a breakaway faction of the United National Party (UNP), was fatally shot in Colombo in April 1993, Scotland Yard was granted permission to help the local police in their investigation. The British intelligence cleared the government and the ruling UNP of any wrongdoing in August 1993.

• The government established a committee of investigation in May 1993 to investigate the murder of Northern Commander Lt Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa, which included three judges from Ghana, New Zealand, and Nigeria.

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• Three months later, 11 members of IIGEP or the international Independent Group of Eminent Personsmonitored the Udalagama commission's activities, with P. N. Bhagwati as its chairman. However, in March 2008, the IIGEP ceased operations due to the government's "lack of political will."

• G.L. Peiris, a former foreign minister, and law professor believe that getting technical advice from foreign specialists on legal or forensic concerns is not the same as turning the inquiry over to foreign judges, which he calls "absolutely inappropriate."

• Tilvin Silva, the general secretary of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), cited the provision for the participation of foreign jurists in the judicial mechanism, saying that the clause leaves no room for anyone credibly impacted in serious crimes through a fair administrative process to be retained in or recruited into the security forces.

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• The former president stated that the paragraphs "run directly opposed to that holy obligation," noting that the Sri Lankan government's "primary duty" was to ensure the interests of the country's "war heroes" were protected.

The involvement of foreign authorities and individuals and their implications on various Sri Lankan cases has been extremely significant in the landscape of the country. Its practicality and validity are still debated to this day.

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FAQs on Foreign Role in Probes are not New to Sri Lanka

Q1. What is the root of Sri Lanka's conflict?

In many respects, the language problem drew the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict into Sri Lankan politics. The Sinhalese language, like the Buddhist faith, has to be at the top of the social hierarchy.

Q2. Why was Sri Lanka involved in a civil war?

The conflict pitted the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan government against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Q3. How much of the land is still occupied by the military?

Large numbers of troops remain in the North and East 12 years after the war ended. The military has grabbed more than 16,910 acres of public and private land in the MullaithivuDistrict alone. Only 15 kilometres separate the villages of Alampil and Kokkilai in Mullaithivu, where there are at least seven Army camps and five naval bases. Despite the absence of conflict, military camps, structures, and restricted zones may be discovered in numerous locations where no one visiting the North East can walk freely.

Q4. What effect does military occupation have on people's livelihoods?

The military's ongoing presence endangers people's human rights, livelihoods, and daily lives.

For years, the Army has been involved in a variety of non-military endeavours, including large-scale land development, building projects, and business initiatives such as travel agencies, farms, vacation resorts, hotels, and a plethora of cafes.