These blog postings do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Advisory Council.
Labels: War crimes
"The Sri Lankan Mission to the UN, run by Pioli's former tenant Kohona and his deputy Shavendra Silva, continues to act as though it has a special relationship with Pioli, sending complaint letters about Inner City Press to Pioli's UNCA unlike any other member state at the UN."The next stage is a ten-day investigation by the UNCA, while the UN still refused to provide any clarity on if or when Lee’s accreditation will be renewed. Meanwhile Lee has been harassed from Sri Lanka using tactics which will be familiar to many Sri Lankan human rights defenders: anonymous threatening phonecalls, vicious personal emails, and several hyperbolic attacks in the media. The latter included the suggestion that Lee could be jailed for harassment for up to seven years. Since there is no evidence to suggest that there is any police investigation (or indeed any suggestion of harassment in a legal sense) this is pure yellow journalism.
Former Attorney General and Senior Legal Advisor to the cabinet Mohan Peiris provided his testimony over a statement he made at the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) on November 9, 2011 in Geneva, that Prageeth Ekneligoda was alive overseas.
Mr Peiris confirmed having participated at the 47th UN CAT in November 2011, and said this meeting was held at a time when there was widespread anti-Sri Lankan sentiments being expressed in many quarters.
But Mr. Peiris rejected making the statement as laid out in the document as he read the UN transcript of his statement provided to him by Mrs. Ekneligoda’s lawyer. “I mentioned that an investigation is being carried out on the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda but some foreigners who were not satisfied with my statement continued to question me for nearly three hours. If I recall correct, I responded to a U.S. lady’s question and mentioned that the government and the justice department had received intelligence information that Prageeth Eknaligoda was living overseas, but it was mere hearsay and we forwarded that information to be investigated” he said.
When Mr. Peiris was asked by Mrs. Ekneligoda’s lawyer whether he could name the source of his information prior to leaving for the UN sessions, State Counsel objected saying that a public official cannot be asked to reveal information about what he says and does in the course of his official duty, especially if such revelation would be inimical to the country's interest or reputation and/or if such revelation would result in any harm to the people of this country.
Mrs. Ekneligoda’s lawyer pointed out firstly that Mr. Peiris is not a public official coming under the Public Service Commission and secondly that no harm would come to any citizen of this country as a result of Mr. Peiris' revelations. As for the country's interest or reputation, the lawyer observed that contrary to State Counsel's fears, Mr. Peiris' revelation would only help enhance the reputation of the country and its judicial processes. State counsel then quoted relevant laws and countered that Peiris is a public official. Mrs. Ekneligoda’s lawyer also quoted Case Law where it had been shown that the judge had powers to ask a public official to reveal his sources of information. State counsel contested this position and insisted on the Court upholding his objection, in spite of the fact that Mr. Peiris himself offered to Court to answer the question.
At this point Court invited Peiris to answer the question. Mr. Peiris said that he does not remember who or what the source of his information was and that he was processing nearly 100 files a day at the time and that remembering such details was not possible.
Mr Peiris drew the Magistrate’s attention to the UN Charter and explained that that the UN forums had complete freedom of speech and that public officials representing various countries in the forum were subject to independent discharge of duty and had legal immunity. He appealed that the UN Charter must be honored at all times. He went on to conclude by saying that he wished he could shed more light, but that “I have no information that the corpus is alive or not and I do not think the government does either and that God only knows where Ekneligoda is".
He also said his statement should not be misinterpreted for political gains as it brings disrepute to the country.
The next date was fixed for 10th July, 1.30pm
Mr. Peiris was provided special treatment not provided to other witnesses in this or other cases, when the unusually large Police contingent present outside Courts, arranged for his car to be taken inside the court premises and barred many of the journalists from entering the premises. Mr. Peiris thereby avoided speaking to or even being photographed by the many journalists that were waiting outside.
"our current info is that Mr Ekneligoda has taken refuge in a foreign country. We don't say this... it's not something that I am saying with a tongue in my cheek, it's something that we are reasonably certain of. This is coming.... this is information that we have got through the [unclear] circles that this has been played out for different reasons. I think I shouldn't say more because the matter has been investigated."It doesn’t sound particularly like Mr Peiris was saying the information was being presented as hearsay – or that the investigation is ongoing. And
“Mr Ekneligoda has taken refuge in a foreign country. .. it's something that we are reasonably certain of”is somewhat different to
“I have no information that the corpus is alive or not and I do not think the government does either and that God only knows where Ekneligoda is".No doubt the UN Committee Against Torture will be interested to know that Mohan Peiris has tesitifed under oath that the information he gave them is wrong.
The Appeals Court in Colombo heard the case of Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance today, May 31, at 10:00am. The Court gathered to receive an update of the current proceedings at The Magistrate Court in Homagama. The Magistrate had made an order May 17 to summon former Attorney General Mohan Peiris for testimony. Testimony would revolve around a statement he made at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011 that Prageeth Ekneligoda was alive overseas.
Today the State Counsel from the Attorney General’s Depart requested the Appeals Court to overturn the decision of the Homagama Magistrate to summon Mohan Peiris, on grounds that he made the statement while on government duty within his capacity as senior legal advisor to the cabinet. State Counsel argued that Peiris said that on government orders and officials are not required to disclose communications where “the public interest would suffer.” The State Counsel later argued that Peiris should not be “harassed” for carrying out government instructions.
The Appeal Court ruled that the Homagama Magistrate is acting on the instructions of the Appeals Court to hear this case and had the freedom to summon Peiris. The Judge said that Peiris’s testimony should not be “pre-empted” and clarified that being summoned cannot be regarded as harassment. The Appeal Court Judge did point out that there was provision for the Appeals Court to hear a revision application if one is made, but ruled out a second objection from the State Counsel to postpone the scheduled hearing at the Magistrate Court on June 5. The case will be heard at the Homagama Magistrate on June 5 at 1.30pm and the Appeals Court will gather again on July 23 to hear the Magistrate’s proceedings at 9.30am.It is now vital that, on the 5th of June, Mohan Peiris divulges all the information he has. We have updated our appeal with that in mind - so please do take a moment to write a letter and help Sandya in her quest to find her husband.
|Cartoon by Stephff, Burma. Part of the Cartooning for Peace and Reporters Without Borders series of cartoons commemorating Prageeth's disappearance|