Desmond defends second mandate of Commission

Sir DesmondTop international lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC, who was roped in by the former Government to advise the Missing Persons Commission, says there was never any doubt about the credibility over the second mandate given to the Commission headed by Maxwell Paranagama.

“I did not work with the Paranagama Commission in connection with the original mandate of the Commission which was to do with investigating disappearances. Any legal advice given by myself and other members of the Advisory Council was in relation to the second mandate of the Paranagama Commission which was directed to the application of international humanitarian law to particular gazetted questions posed for answer. Any concerns raised by the UN High Commissioner were not in relation to the Paranagama second mandate report,” Sir Desmond de Silva said in response to a question raised by The Sunday Leader.

He also said the report on Sri Lanka by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also known as the OISL Report, which was released in September, significantly supports some of the major findings of the Paranagama Commission’s second mandate report.

“An excellent example of this is to be found in the debunking of the alleged ‘up to 40,000 ‘ civilians killed in the final phase of the war’. The Paranagama Report makes plain that the number was unquantifiable and far short 40,000. The OISL Report agrees with the number of civilians killed as being unquantifiable and avoids any mention of the figure of 40,000. Any suggestion that UN High Commissioner considered the Paranagama second mandate report as lacking in credibility would be manifestly wrong and misleading. Indeed, it would appear that he had not read the Paranagama second mandate report at the time he made his observations in relation to work of the Commission under its first mandate,” Desmond de Silva said.

Meanwhile, during the sittings held in Jaffna last week, family members of those missing asked the chairman of the Commission, Maxwell Paranagama, what the next step will be once all the statements are recorded on the missing people.

Paranagama said the reports compiled by the Commission will be handed over to the Attorney General and the Attorney General will produce them to Special Courts which will be established by the new government to make rulings on those missing. (Colombo Gazette)