Navi Pillay ?
Posted on August 26th, 2013

Gamini Gunawardane   

“ƒ”¹…”The  Island’ 16th Aug., reported that UNHR Commissioner Navi Pillay was due to visit this country during the last week of this month with a delegation, on the invitation of the government.     

Like the little boy in the story of the king who was parading the streets naked thinking, and  others agreeing, displaying his newly woven greatest of dresses which fools could not see, asked the obvious question whether the king was not naked, it took an engineer to jolt me with the following “ƒ”¹…”dumb’ question: “ƒ”¹…”Now if Navi Pillay, herself being a Tamil, is coming here to ascertain the condition of the Tamils after the “ƒ”¹…”war’, can her report be fair and impartial, but biased towards Tamils?’ I suddenly realized that what he was raising is the simple principle of rule against bias, under Rules of Natural Justice, that one could not be the judge in one’s own case. “Nemo iudex in causa sua” It is a principle of natural justice that no persons can judge a case in which they have an interest. The laconic equivalent in Sinhala folk lore is : Naduth pansale, baduth pansale !  Translated roughly, “both, complainant and the judge is the (monk of the) temple”.

This, it struck me, could be a natural bias. It does not however mean that no Tamil person could look at a problem like this impartially, without any bias. The issue in question here is not only one of factual assessment but it also remains a highly emotional issue, particularly to a Tamil. Hence it may not be fair even by Ms. Navi Pillay to expect her to come to a total objective determination, she being human. This is probably why there is another judicial adage that “ƒ”¹…”Justice should not only be done, but should appear to be done.’

Yet, I recall that when a delegation of Indian Parliamentarians visited the North some time ago, some of them were modest enough to acknowledge that the conditions in our then detention camps were very much better than those in India. Here again, the parliamentarians from the Tamil Nadu declined to join the delegation when invited, for reasons best known to themselves. Judging by the emotional bias that protagonists of the anti Sri Lankan sentiments generated there, one is reminded of another common saying that “ƒ”¹…”none are so blind than those who do not want to see.’ Again, the same thing happened when the LLRC invited the world Human Rights organizations, to place the evidence they had, before the Commission, they declined contemptuously. This probably was on the same premise of the “ƒ”¹…”Naduth pansale, baduth pansale’ assumption.  But ironically, now their, as well as that of the UNHRC’s demand, is that the SL government implements the recommendations of the selfsame LLRC! It is all the more interesting in view of the fact that “ƒ”¹…”Darusman’ Commission of the UNSG recommended in their report, that the information placed before them be not revealed for 20 years! Why?

Thus, as far as the Sri Lanka government is concerned, despite the unsubstantiated allegations leveled, it has consistently conducted itself by Buddha’s principle re his teaching: “ƒ”¹…”Ehi, passiko opanaiko, pacchattham vedithabbo” meaning,” Come, see for yourself, it is open for scrutiny and , experience it yourself”.  Accordingly, Navi Pillay & her delegation too are coming here on a government invitation and are to be afforded all facilities to make their own assessment. Now the question is, given her past conduct and utterances made, and positions taken by her in this regard, and the pains taken by her in moving the adverse resolutions against Sri Lanka, besides being a Tamil herself, whether we could expect an impartial and an unbiased report from Ms. Navi Pillay?

“Nemo iudex in causa sua”


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