Comments /1069 Views / Saturday, 2 March 2013 00:00
As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unfolds in Geneva, there is greater need to address accountability issues within the country and provide strong examples of how rule of law is still respected within Sri Lanka.
Perhaps the strongest impact would be made by bringing to trial the offenders of the British tourist who was killed in 2011 in Tangalle. Despite the lapse of a year, nothing has been done to bring the trial before a judge and hand out punishments to the offenders. This oversight could have deep repercussions for Sri Lanka and this month will see heightened attention with the victim’s brother, accompanied by a British MP travelling, to Sri Lanka to review progress on the trial.
There have already been calls for the UK government to take strong measures to lobby for the trial to be taken forward. Moreover, Britain is a crucial part of the Commonwealth and has already taken the stance that they will back Canada to put Sri Lanka on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Agenda (CMAG) if credible progress is not made on promoting human rights by Sri Lanka’s Government.
The brother of Khuram Shaikh will visit the country next week, according to media reports. Nasser Shaikh accompanied by British Labour Party MP Simon Danszuk will be in the country to find out the progress made in bringing those responsible for the killing to justice. No doubt, they will remember pledges given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself that justice will be served and will be keen to find out why such a process has not happened thus far.
Eight suspects including Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman (UPFA) Sampath Vidanapathirana were arrested for allegedly killing the British national and sexually assaulting his girlfriend. Under pressure to maintain one of the country’s most lucrative industries, the ruling party initially expelled Vidanapathirana but later quietly allowed him to re-enter its ranks.
Khuram’s brother Nassar has expressed concern over the delay in the case against the alleged killers and had told that the lack of action “gives out the wrong message.” He had told media that it was “disheartening” that the suspects had not been brought to trial.
The case has been taken up by Simon Danczuk, a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rochdale, who has urged the British government to press the Sri Lankan authorities to get the case moving. Last December, he even called on the British Prime Minister David Cameron to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) if adequate steps are not taken in this regard.
Even though the Attorney General’s department has stated that they will formally charge the suspects, why they had to wait for well over a year remains to be answered. The suspects are to face charges of murder of the British national on Christmas Eve 2011 and causing grievous injury and sexual assault to his 23-year old Russian partner Victoria Alexandrovna.
The strong political undertone of this trial also does not bode well for judicial independence and the only way the Government can prove its credibility is by fast-tracking the process. Not only would such a move help burnish Sri Lanka’s battered international image but it would also go a long way to bolstering confidence in the State’s capacity for accountability.
6 October 2015
We sat in the newly-opened restaurant, styling itself on the trendy Indian fast food concept, quick, clean and easy on the purse. My companion wanted a typical vegetarian meal – “the kind of meal they used to serve at Greenlands,&rdquo...
5 October 2015
It is not pure knowledge economies, but innovation economies Modern economies are called ‘knowledge economies’ because they rely on human knowledge for economic prosperity. However, this designation describes a modern econom...
5 October 2015
It was indeed memorable to organise an inauguration of a brand new MBA batch at the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was encouraging to see the spirit of Sri Lankans in Dubai who actively su...
3 October 2015
Gamini Fonseka Sembuge Gamini Shelton Fonseka, known generally as Gamini Fonseka – the uncrowned monarch of Sinhala cinema – passed away at the age of 68 on 30 September 2004. Gamini was one of my ...
Problems facing the construction industry
Asia Pacific leaders support ESCAP-ADB-UNDP partnership to achieve 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in the region
Across arc of conflict, “Obama Doctrine” shows signs of failure
An effective Finance Commission a prerequisite for genuine devolution