Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has told the Chief Prelates that the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) is a threat to the armed forces in the country.
Rajapaksa said that the OMP is one of several institutions that the Government has agreed to set up to ‘deal with the past’ in terms of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 of 14 October 2015, and its purpose is to feed information to other mechanisms.
“Even though the body to be set up under this law is referred to as an ‘office’, Section 12 of the OMP Act makes it clear that it will in actual fact be a tribunal which can receive complaints, carry out investigations, examine witnesses, issue summons and hold hearings. Its officers can enter without warrant at any time of the day or night any police station, prison or military installation and seize any document or object they require. Anyone who fails or refuses to cooperate with the OMP may be punished as if it were an act of contempt against the Court of Appeal,” he said.
Rajapaksa says the Office of Missing Persons (which will be funded and maintained by interested foreign parties) can make an allegation against an individual in a report and on that basis a foreign country can ask for the extradition of the suspect to be either tried in that country or handed over to an international criminal tribunal for prosecution.
He says after the Government was forced to postpone the debate on the Bill to give effect to the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances, ministers of both the UNP and the SLFP were trying to justify that proposed law by saying that it will apply only to the future and not to the past.
Rajapaksa says the enthusiasm of the yahapalana political parties – the UNP, the SLFP group in the Government, the TNA and the JVP to pass laws designed to punish members of the armed forces and the political authorities that gave leadership to the war is evident.
The former President says the Government has sought to give interested foreign powers a central role under Sri Lankan law, in the persecution of the armed forces through the new laws they have already passed or have placed before Parliament. (Colombo Gazette)