Ministerial committee will not interfere with AG’s work – Minister

Chamal Rajapaksa

Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said the Committee appointed under him will look into what steps the government has taken so far and what else needs to be done in line with the recommendations of the Easter Sunday attacks Commission report.

Minister Rajapaksa is the Chairman of the committee to study the report of the Presidential Commission on the Easter Sunday attacks.

The government appointed this committee under his leadership to decide what needs to be done first according to the recommendations of the Presidential Commission investigating the Easter attacks and the recommendations in line with legal procedures will be carried out by the Attorney General’s Department.

He said the Committee had been appointed to look into what the government needs to do first in terms of the recommendations while it will not interfere with the legal recommendations.

Referring to criticism levelled at the Committee he said it is understandable as a proper explanation had not been issued regarding the proper procedures being followed.

Minister Rajapaksa said that as the Committee’s task is to look into what steps the government has taken so far and what else needs to be done in line with the recommendations of the Commission report. He said that prior to the report being tabled in Parliament, it cannot be given to anyone as that is procedure. Hence, he said that is the delay as the Sinhala copy of the report is not ready yet and once that is done it would be presented to Parliament and thereafter it would be made public.

However, Minister Chamal Rajapaksa assured that justice would be served and no cover-up will be done to safeguard anyone.

Meanwhile, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, addressing those gathered during a protest recently criticised the Committee appointed by the President claiming that those who had not even passed the GCE Ordinary Level Examination were being allowed to make decisions regarding those responsible for the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday.

He was speaking at the silent protest organized at the St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya on Saturday (20) against the appointing of a new committee to study the Commission report.

Those gathered at the protest pledged their support to the Cardinal urging him to fight for their rights. “We want justice.Why is the government silent? Do not appoint more committees.Our children and parents are dead. We are with you. We will not leave you alone. Do not be afraid of anyone. Speak the truth. The lies of this government must be revealed to the people. We are still crying for the loss of our loved ones,” the protestors said.

In response, the Cardinal said, “Not only you, but we are all crying. We will not allow for any injustice. We asked for the report of the Easter Commission. I’ll wait until I receive it. But, we are not agreeable to accept the policy of appointing a committee to choosing what they want. We request that this report be fully disclosed. Do not hide anything in the report. Then we will decide what to do. We get the impression that the government is hiding things out of fear. We do not accept the committee. We cannot imprison a few officials and hide the true forces behind this terrible attack,” the Cardinal said, adding that if a favourable response is not received, he would not hesitate to take the matter to international levels.

When asked if the Pope had been notified of this development, the Cardinal replied in the affirmative adding that discussions had been held with the Vatican leaders and that there are other international bodies as well where this issue could be taken to.

The Cardinal then spoke to the public gathered at the Katuwapitiya Church and assured them that he is with them and not to fear. “Don’t worry, we are all in this together. They trying to hide certain proposals that are in the report through this committee and only bring out certain recommendations. What we want is a leader with a back-bone and there is no point in a leader who bows his head to everything. I am on your side and if the rulers are doing something wrong I won’t hesitate to condemn them. The intellectual five member commission gave its recommendations to be implemented. Therefore, we cannot allow persons who have not even passed their O/L examinations to decide on this report formulated by such intellectuals in the Commission,” he added.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a committee to study the investigation’s report on the Easter Sunday attacks.The President’s Office said that the committee headed by Minister Chamal Rajapaksa will study the report by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks and recommend appropriate action.

The committee includes Ministers Johnston Fernando, Udaya Gammanpila, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga and Rohitha Abeygunawardena. The committee has been asked to submit a report by March 15, 2021.

(Source: Daily News – By Camelia Nathaniel)