Presidential Commission to probe Easter bomb attacks | Daily News


First interim report by December 3rd week

Presidential Commission to probe Easter bomb attacks

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (21) appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate into the suicide bomb attacks which took place on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019.

The Gazette Extraordinary notification issued yesterday said that the five-member Commission is chaired by Court of Appeal Justice Janak de Silva and comprises CA Judge Nissanka Bandula Karunarathna, CA Judge (retd) Nihal Sunil Rajapaksa, High Court Judge (retd) Atapattu Liyanage Bandula Kumara Atapattu, and W.M.M. Adikari Retired Ministry Secretary.

The Commission is instructed to submit its first interim report within three months from the date of its appointment, duly, in the third week of December, 2019. The Commission is also ordered to submit interim reports every two months, and to submit its final report including the findings of the Commission’s investigations and its recommendations, within six months of the Commission’s appointment. The Presidential Election for the year 2020 is scheduled on November 16, 2019.

The Commission is to provide recommendations regarding what action should be taken against those held responsible for having committed offences and acts of wrongdoing relating to the subject of inquiry, and recommendations aimed at preventing the occurrence of such offences and acts of wrongdoing in the future and on measures to be taken to prevent the possible damage to national security and national unity by acts of terrorism and extremism.

The appointment of the Commission comes even as the Parliamentary Select Committee formed on the same subject, headed by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri, now winds up its own inquiries. President Sirisena appeared before the Parliament Select Committee on Friday (20) to give a statement. The PSC was given an extension period by the Parliament until October 31, to submit its final report.

President Sirisena made the appointment of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Easter Sunday attacks by notification in the Gazette Extraordinary No.2141/88 dated September 21, 2019 (Saturday).

 The Commission of Inquiry was appointed in pursuance of the provisions of Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Act (chapter 393).

Justifying the appointment of such a Presidential Commission of inquiry, President Sirisena has observed in the Gazette Extraordinary notification that “a large number of complaints and allegations have been made against persons, who were public servants / officers, who are alleged to have direct or indirect connections with causing loss of life, totally disabling persons, injuries to a large number of persons and causing damages to properties” as a result of the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks. “It is imperative to ensure that the law should be implemented against those who are directly or indirectly responsible for those attacks,” the President has stated.

President Sirisena further states that he is “of the opinion that it is in the best interest of public security and welfare to cause the conduct of investigations and inquiries into such complaints, allegations and information, in order to ascertain what measures should be taken to provide far and ensure that the law is appropriately enforced and wrong doers dealt with in terms of the law and that there will be no recurrence of such alleged acts and / or omissions, negligence or failure to perform duties amounting to offences and abuse or misuse of power or authority.”

The Commission is yet to decide if its proceedings would be held in public. The Gazette said that the Commission is directed “that such part of any investigations or inquiry relating to the aforesaid matters, as you may in your discretion determine, shall not be held in public.”

In a step to adhere to good governance policies, the Government recently took steps to partially or fully open inquiries carried out by the Parliament Select Committee investigating into the Easter Sunday attacks, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) and Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) to media. The Presidential Commissions of Inquiry into the Treasury bond issue and Sri Lanka Airlines were also opened to media. However, concerns were raised regarding certain investigations being open to public as they focused on matters of national security. Several sessions of the PSC were restricted from the public due to security interests.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Easter Sunday attacks is authorized to investigate and inquire into and take necessary action to enable future legal actions and to report on a series of matters relating to the Easter Sunday attacks and to conduct or cause the conduct of necessary criminal and forensic investigations and inquiries and hold all public and / or confidential inquiries into the aforesaid matters.

The Commission is empowered to “call and receive public complaints, information and other materials against public servants / officers or other persons who were working at that time or who still work or any other persons who are alleged to have direct or indirect connections to the bomb explosion that took place on 21st April, 2019 causing loss of life or damaged to properties or regarding acts or abuse of misuse of power and such other alleged act and / or omissions and to hold prompt, impartial, complete investigations and inquiries regarding complaints, information and other materials to the above mentioned matters.”

The Commission is authorized “to identify persons and organizations who are directly or indirectly connected to these terrorist acts, to identify officers and authorities responsible who failed to pre- determine that a terrorist and extremist activities of this nature would take place within the country and to ascertain matters incidental it and who failed or neglected to take action according to law and not taking proper actions in this regard, to identify all authorities who are responsible for failure to prevent the terrorist attacks that took place on 21stApril, 2019 and for identify the authorities, who failed to perform their duties and did not take proper action due to incapacity, to identify persons and organizations, who are connected with public protests, acts of sabotage, causing damages to properties and persons and thereby causing public unrest, after the attack took place on 21st April, 2019, to identify persons, organizations, who aid and abet actions which caused racial and religious disturbances or give support for such acts within the country and which created public unrest and which disturbed social order and disrupted the social integrity and caused racial disturbances.”

The Commission is also empowered to recommend measures as may be necessary to rehabilitate or assist in any other manner the persons affected, to ensure the safety of the public and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. The Commission is also authorized to identify which of the acts relating to the Easter Sunday attacks, that should “be forwarded to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption or to the Police or to any other law enforcement authority or statutory body for the conduct of necessary investigations and inquiries with the view to instituting criminal proceedings against persons alleged to have committed to the said offences.”

The Commission is also authorized to “transmit to the Attorney General relevant material on investigations and inquiry, enabling the Attorney General to consider the institution of criminal proceedings against persons alleged to have committed the offenses” in relation to the matter investigated.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance MP Mahinda Amaraweera responding to Daily News said that President Sirisena’s decision to appoint a Presidential Commission of Inquiry comes as a response to many requests for an impartial inquiry into the Easter Sunday terror attacks from the general public.

Speaking further MP Amaraweera said, “Following the Easter Sunday carnage, a Parliament Select Committee was appointed to look into this matter. However, there were many requests from the general public, as well as religious leaders such as Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, for an impartial Commission to investigate into this matter.” Amaraweera said.

Speaking on President Sirisena’s recent appearance before the Parliament Select Committee investigating into the Easter Sunday terror attacks, MP Amaraweera said that, “According to the information that we have received, President Sirisena has given solid answers to all the inquiries made by the PSC. He has, it seems, even pointed out as to who should be held responsible for the attacks.”

“We don’t believe that President Sirisena appointed this Commission to make it another media show. We believe that he appointed this Commission to carry out an impartial and fair investigation into the matter in concern and do justice to all those who were victimized and affected by the terrorist attack,” Amaraweera further said.

Meanwhile, Gampaha District UNP MP Kavinda Jayawardena responding to the Daily News over the appointment of the Presidential Commission to investigate into the Easter Sunday terror attacks said that those who were victimised by the carnage deserve an impartial investigation on the matter. MP Jayawardena said that the Catholic community will remain peaceful but vigilant as to how the Presidential Commission would carry out an independent investigation.

“Our people will patiently wait until justice is done to all the victims of this carnage.” Jayawardena said.

Speaking on the Parliament Select Committee inquiring into the Easter Sunday terror attacks, MP Jayawardena said that the Parliamentary Committee does not have the expertise or advanced technical know-how which are necessary to carry out a comprehensive forensic investigation into this matter. Hence, a comprehensive and an independent investigation was of utmost importance,” Jayawardena said.

“That is the very reason why His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith made a written request for an independent investigation. That is the same reason why we, as Catholic MPs in Parliament, also forwarded a written request demanding an impartial investigation. We sincerely hope that this Commission will carry out an independent investigation and do justice by our people.” he added.

Speaking further Jayawardena said, “The Catholic community is greatly disheartened by the terror unleashed upon its people. Following the PSC investigations, evidence piled up given by many high profile government agents pertaining to negligence and miscommunications from the part of defense and government bodies. Adding to that, the names of politicians surfaced in relation to aiding terrorism and extremism. So for us to clear all this and find the actual culprits who created, supported, trained and funded these terrorists an independent inquiry is an absolute.”

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