AG, CJ asked to take action against attorney for initiating violence
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has said that a false allegation by the Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP), Barrister Senaka Perera, that some prisoners were used for attacking anti-government protesters outside Temple Trees and Galle Face on May 09 sparked violence in many parts of the country.
The HRCSL also blamed Sudesh Nadimal Silva also from the same organization for spreading unsubstantiated allegations.
Judge (retired) Rohini Marasinghe, in her capacity as president of the HRCSL, said Senaka Perera and Sudesh Nandimal failed to substantiate their allegations made on the Galle Face protest site on May 10.
The HRCSL, in a statement released yesterday (29), quoted Judge Marasinghe as saying: “False propaganda as well as misinformation about the alleged use of prisoners to attack the innocent protesters is both a diabolical lie and a misleading action”.
The HRCSL has recommended that Attorney General Sanjaya Rajaratnam further investigate Senaka Perera’s allegations and take the necessary action.
The HRCSL has asked Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, to take note of the prejudicial statements made by attorney Senaka Perera and take necessary action.
The HRCSL consists of Ven. Kalupahana Piyarathana Thera, Dr MH Nimal Karunasiri, Dr Vijitha Nanayakkara and Ms Anusuya Shanmuganathan.
The HRCSL addressed the issue in a statement titled “The HRCSL condemns the false media broadcast made by the Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Prisoners’ Rights”.
The HRCSL released the statement after the conclusion of a special investigation by an appointed committee of investigators (col).
The CoI was composed of Sanjeewa Weerawickrama, lawyer, Ms lmasha Senadeera, lawyer and Dr Dilshani Bogollagama.
Referring to the allegation that prisoners were used to attack protesters at protest sites in Galle Face and Temple Trees, the HRCSL said the CoI determined that no prisoners were used to carry out a attack on peaceful protesters.
The HRCSL claimed that the unsubstantiated allegations caused irreversible damage to the country.
The HRCSL said a group of prisoners were severely assaulted and subjected to mental and physical torture by an unidentified group on May 9.
HRCSL said: “The unprecedented callous nature of the attack on prisoners and officials resulted in the injuries and hospitalization of many inmates.” Since the incidents, eight prisoners have not been found so far, he added.
The prisoners had been made available to private sector companies under an agreement approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in October 2021. On the day of the incidents, a group of prisoners had been taken to a designated workplace and were in road. back when the gangs intercepted them.
“Lawyer Mr. Senaka Perera, the organizer of the conference identified himself as a human rights activist. The COI provided the CPRP Chairman, Mr. Senaka Perera, with an opportunity to justify his statements which caused outrage both in Sri Lanka and in the world at large. For the purpose of presenting any evidence, whether in the form of oral statements or photographic documentation in support of his statements, Mr. Perera was granted a justifiable extension of time. However, he expressly asserted before the Committee that at the time of the statement or even after, he had no hard evidence in support of his expressed views about the alleged incident. Mr. Sudesh Nadimal Silva was also summoned to testify before the COl. The Committee explaining the paramount importance of maintaining professional ethics gave Mr. Sudesh Nadimal Silva the opportunity to provide a justifiable explanation for his expressed allegations. However, he was unable to provide acceptable evidence to support his statements.
The COI observed that the press conference chaired by Mr. Senaka Perera dispensed totally false statements without any substantial evidence.
“As a result of the above facts, the COI has identified the serious consequences of the negligent attitude of making unfounded statements. The incitement of agitation in the general public against government departments and personnel has inadvertently , led to disruption of the country’s law and order.
“The COI has further observed that these misrepresentations conveyed by the above speakers have directly contributed to the series of violent activities and rights violations, reported across the island. The combined result of the atrocities that have occurred in just 48 hours has resulted in the loss of 12 human lives and several hundred injuries.In addition, intentional damage and arson to public and private property exceeds the loss of billions of rupees.
“After a thorough and diligent investigation, the COI has reached the following conclusions. The highly irresponsible misconduct of Prosecutor Senaka Perera, with his speculative allegations without substantiated evidence, has had disastrous consequences.
“Therefore, it is of paramount importance that members of professional bodies be guided by the code of conduct or professional ethics as set forth by the respective professional bodies for the proper conduct of members. These conditions of misconduct representative and influential persons should be held accountable by the respective professional bodies.
The COI believes that national media institutions must consciously adhere to responsible reporting and promote journalism with integrity, especially during this volatile period of political and economic instability. This is tantamount to avoiding direct reporting of impact without proper assessment of its veracity and credibility. The Committee further recommends the promotion of the practices of investigative journalists with the aim of strengthening the democratic fabric of the country.