An assurance of justice | Daily News


An assurance of justice

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s pledge that all those in positions of authority responsible for the Easter Sunday attack through their negligence and lackadaisical conduct would be hauled before the law irrespective of their positions and standing will be assurance enough for the Catholic community that the wheels of justice will be made to grind in all earnestness bringing them much needed solace.

In a recent media interview, the Premier said punitive action will be initiated against all persons who failed to avert the devastating Easter Sunday terror attacks, based on the findings of the ongoing Presidential Commission of Inquiry. “We will ensure justice,” he said, adding that however mighty and powerful those responsible for not preventing the attacks may be, they will be made to face the full force of the law.

It was a grave lapse on the part of those in authority to have ignored intelligence warnings on the imminent terror attacks which plunged not only the Catholic community but the entire country into grief. The Premier, of course, was responding to the frequent calls for full justice to be meted out to the perpetrators by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who has called for a full probe into the identities of the masterminds and those who funded the attacks, planted the bombs and those who guided or provided moral support to the attackers. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also gave a firm undertaking that all those responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks would be brought to book, soon after assuming office.

Towards this end a freshly constituted Presidential Commission of Inquiry was appointed to probe deeper into the matter with a mandate to ascertain the full dimension and the wider implications of the terror operation.

One therefore can expect a full-scale comprehensive report together with the identities of all the actors behind the Easter Sunday terror strike and the role played by the collaborators, details of which are only now coming to the surface.

This is as it should be. The carnage that claimed nearly 300 innocent lives on that fateful day could easily have been averted if the authorities entrusted with protection of the country’s citizens only took the intelligence reports with the seriousness they deserved and put in place all safety measures. Had this intelligence been shared with the Church authorities it would certainly have resulted in all the Easter services in the country being called off, although this would not have necessarily spared the hotels.

What we instead see today is the passing of the buck by many persons implicated for the lapses in security who regularly appear before the Commission. From what has transpired so far it is obvious that there had been a clear break in the chain of command and a laid back approach to foreign intelligence reports pointing to an imminent attack, by the top echelons of the leadership – an unpardonable breach of trust reposed in them by the people.

All those responsible must not only be exposed and tried but also be made to give an account for their lapses in other ways by making it up to the innocents who lost their lives due solely to their own monumental apathy and negligence.

The plight of the victims appears to be of no concern to anyone after the initial outpouring the grief and rush to provide relief. The damaged churches are back to their original (or even better) states but little is known of the children left orphaned with one or both parents killed in the blasts and the plight of the families who had lost their breadwinners.

The Church had directly intervened to support such families and the injured victims, launching a special fund to permanently attend to the needs of the orphaned and destitute, even finding sponsors to take over the welfare of the affected children and see to their education. Are these programmes and schemes still being carried out? Not just the Church many others too came into fill in the breach in the initial stages offering their generosity including the Buddhist clergy who were in the forefront in assisting to rebuild the devastated churches and shattered lives. The Government has promised free medical care for life for those still needing treatment for their injuries.

While promising to ensure justice to the victims it would also be useful if the authorities obtain feedback of what has become of the survivors and how they fare 17 months after the tragedy. We have a tendency to forget things in a hurry after the initial flurry of activity. This was clearly seen even during the Tsunami catastrophe when the whole country wept buckets for their countrymen in distress and rushed to offer relief and assistance only for the enthusiasm to die down after a while. Let such a fate not visit the victims of the Easter Sunday carnage.

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