Friday, December 21, 2007

Presidential Commission takes issue with IIGEP allegations

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Violations of Human Rights, yesterday objected strongly to a statement issued by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) claiming that 'the current inquiry does not meet international standards'.
Justice Nissanka Udalagama, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry said that he could not comprehend how the IIGEP concluded that the COI's investigations were not transparent when the IIGEP itself has been given the opportunity and have in fact questioned witnesses in detail during the sessions.

He also pointed out that in effect the IIGEP has not been present at over half of the sessions and for this reason too the allegations lack credibility. He added that the IIGEP observation that there had been no full and timely disclosure by COI is not acceptable.

Justice Udalagama also made clear that the statement made by the IIGEP that its recommended corrective actions have not been adopted by the COI is contrary to facts.

"Due to the lack of an adequate presence of the IIGEP at the sessions, the collective wisdom of the eleven members of IIGEP is unfortunately not reflected in the Group's observations as was intended in the Presidential invitation to the IIGEP.

"The COI has developed a scheme of witness protection which elaborates rigorously researched rules and study of international best practices. Copies of such rules were shared with the IIGEP at the beginning of the COI's term and did not receive any adverse comments."

Justice Udalagama expressed disappointment that the IIGEP has preferred to raise objections in the public domain when in fact the opportunity for comment and criticism was available but not made use of.