Wijeyadasa Rajapakse and Esala Weerakoon share a light moment at the conclusion of the media briefing (Pic Sujatha Jayaratne)
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, yesterday said those demanding a new lenient Counter Terrorism Law (CTL) to replace the Prevention of the Terrorist Act (PTA), however in the wake of attacks in the West had adopted stringent measures which were even tougher than the PTA.
Minister Rajapakse was responding to The Island at a media conference at his ministry. He was flanked by Foreign Secretary Esala Weerakoon, Law and Order Ministry Secretary Jagath Jayaweera and DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana.
Rajapakse said they hadn’t reached agreement on CTL so far in spite of broad consensus on the matter.
The Justice Minister said latest developments should be taken into consideration before deciding on the final draft.
Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake headed a committee that drafted the policy and legal frame in respect of the proposed CTL.
The Prime Minister in late Sept last year in a confidential Cabinet memorandum proposed that the proposed law comply with Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations. The premier also sought adequate provisions to deal with terrorism. Minister Rajapakse said the world opinion in respect of terrorism threat had changed since the conclusion of the conflict here in May 2009 with some of those pursuing liberal policies experiencing the horrors of terrorism.
Minister Rajapakse explained the circumstances leading to him issuing a statement in parliament contrary to that of Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha in Geneva on June 12.
Aryasinha and Rajapakse dealt with former Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyer Monica Pinto’s adverse report taken up at the 35th session of the human rights council. Pinto called for foreign judges and other international experts in proposed war crimes courts in accordance with 2015 and 2017 Geneva resolutions.
Having received access to former conflict affected areas and meetings with those desired, Pinto had issued a report inimical to Sri Lanka over ten months after her visit here, Minister Rajapakse said. The Justice Minister said he had an opportunity to discuss and explain the situation to Pinto and was really shocked by her report.
Accusing Pinto of deliberating deceiving Geneva, an irate Minister Rajapakse compared the falsified reports issued by the UN, NGO community and other interested parties. Minister Rajapakse said that infringement of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty couldn’t be allowed.
Minister Rajapakse flayed Pinto for criticism of transfer of judges after completion of three year terms at a particular court. The PC alleged that Pinto’s claim that court heard cases in the Northern Province in Sinhala and also gave rulings in Sinhala was nothing but a blatant lie. Minister Rajapakse insisted that all cases were heard in Tamil in the northern and eastern districts except for Ampara.
The Justice Minister said that Sri Lanka’s mission in Geneva had been made aware of Sri Lanka’s stand in respect of Pinto’s report. The Justice Minister said that the statement made in parliament was meant to correct Sri Lanka’s stand.
The minister didn’t comment on the yahapalana government co-sponsoring Oct 2015 Geneva Resolution soon after Ambassador Aryasinha strongly opposed the draft at an informal discussion attended by top representatives of those moving the document.