Fundamental Rights Application filed against GOSL by Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera for failure to translate OISL report in Sinhala & Tamil language
Posted on June 24th, 2016

Shenali D Waduge

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera deserves kudus from both Sinhalese and Tamils. He has come forward to file a case on behalf of over 90% of Sri Lanka’s population. What the GOSL overlooked and ignored Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera has done in filing a public & personal interest case against the GOSL for failing to translate the OISL report into both Sinhala and Tamil while the Secretary to the President who represents the Head of the Executive Branch and the Foreign Minister under whose ministry the UNHRC Resolution was co-sponsored will now have to respond.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera is a novelist author of over 25 books, a cultural critic, a commentator on national issues and he is also the recipient of the State National’ award for his writings in the Sinhala language.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera says his Fundamental Rights under Articles 10, 12(1), 12(2), 14(1)(a), and 14(1)(g) have been violated.

  • There is no official Sinhala translation of the report of the investigation done by the OHCHR known as the OISL report claiming that war crimes have been committed during the last phase of the war.
  • The Foreign Ministry co-sponsored the Resolution of September 2015 endorsing without qualification the conclusions and recommendations of the OISL Report while the Secretary to the President who represents the head of the executive branch must take ultimate responsibility for all activities of the State including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The question is why was there no official Sinhala and Tamil translation of the OISL report so that the general public could read the gravity of its contents.

In Sri Lanka only a small handful speak English. Sinhala and Tamil are the mother tongue of the citizens. The population are majority Sinhala speaking while close to 20% are Tamil speakers. When a document is released pertaining to the national security, national affairs of the country, it is the right of any citizen to know what is inside that document. If the document is made available to only English speaking handful, how fair is that is the crux of Dr. Gunadasa’s petition.

The case resurrects grave injustices committed by the GOSL. Not only did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provide a 2 page response to the OISL report but agreed to co-sponsor the resolution accepting the contents of the report which claimed that the GOSL had committed grave crimes and called for a hybrid court to try the perpetrators with the OHCHR head going beyond his mandate by questioning Sri Lanka’s judicial system.

These developments were taking place without the citizens knowing the gravity of matters because the report was not translated to Sinhala or Tamil. People had no means to assess the allegations contained in the report while in October 2015 the Prime Minister had gone on an official visit to Japan to seek assistance from the Japanese Government to initiate prosecutorial and/or judicial mechanisms recommended in the resolution A/HRC/30/L.29. Thereafter a Japanese prosecutor Moto Noguchi had arrived in Sri Lanka to help set up the mechanisms. He was not heard of again probably because he knew there was no case for war crimes!

The GOSL in January 2016 commissioned a Task Force on Reconciliation comprising Pakaisothy Saravanamuthu and Manori Muttetuwegama and the following month the OHCHR head arrived and later issued a statement on war crimes calling for prosecutions.

The Petitioner also says that it was through the newspapers he found out in May 2016 that the Prime Minister had held a conference at Temple Trees announcing that the GOSL had decided to initiate judicial mechanisms recommended by the OHCHR investigation but will have ‘local judges’.

The petitioner has filed the case because the UNHRC will meet in July 2016 and the GOSL is expected to report on the progress made.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera is voicing our own exasperations at how the GOSL has casually agreed to pursue special prosecutorial and judicial mechanisms to try persons who have acted in the service of the country in particular the national defense of the country and against threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Dr. Amarasekera cites this as a grave personal concern. Dr. Amarasekera shares with many the views that the national defense has to be conducted within the bounds set by domestic while keeping to international law wherever applicable. The argument he says is that the persons levelling allegations must have a prima facie credible and worthy reason for prosecutorial and judicial mechanisms.

Dr. Amarasekera’s petition is important because he is appalled at the manner that the GOSL has committed itself while keeping the majority populace in the dark as they have neither read nor understood the contents and the gravity of the document to which the GOSL has accepted in word and content.

The petition is being filed to demand the GOSL to make available the official Sinhala and Tamil translation of the OISL for in not doing so the petitioners fundamental rights afforded to him by the Constitution of Sri Lanka has been violated.

Violation of Article 10 – Freedom of Thought

Violation of Article 12(1) and 12)2) – Administrative language being in Sinhala or Tamil. It is discriminative to make a report available only in English.

Violation of Article 14(1)(a) – Freedom of Expression

Violation of Article 14(1)(g) – Freedom to engage in his occupation. In the absence of an official Sinhala Tamil translation he and fellow writers are unable to comment and have to rely on their own translations and these may lead to occupational hazards if translated wrongly.

Similarly, the lack of Sinhala and Tamil translations is the key reason why the people have not arise against the OISL report. If they knew the contents of the report the public would have questioned the government. Moreover, the Tamil speaking public would also understand the situation better. Apart from a handful of power hungry Tamil politicians the general Tamil public want to live in peace with the Sinhalese and Muslims. Groups of Tamil youth have come out to say that they need houses and jobs and education for their children not to divide the nation. These messages are being blocked from public domain by a handful of English speakng people and English speaking/writing media.

The GOSL must now take action and the OHCHR must withhold its demands from the GOSL until such time the GOSL makes available the Sinhala and Tamil translations of the oISL report to the public. When OHCRH has been chirping about transparency and accountability it is the least it can do now that a grave error has occured on the part of the GOSL.

In essence what Dr. Amarasekera says in his FR application is that due to the lack of a Sinhala translation of the OISL report dated 16 September 2015 his fundamental rights have been violated and appeals to the Court of Sri Lanka to direct the respondents to produce official Sinhala and Tamil translations of the OISL report and make it public to all the people as well.

Shenali D Waduge

One Response to “Fundamental Rights Application filed against GOSL by Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera for failure to translate OISL report in Sinhala & Tamil language”

  1. stanley perera Says:

    A bloody good job Dr. Amarasekera. Pigneswaran, what do you say now? Racist Tamil TNA, what do you say now? Global Tamils hide your face in the sand. UNHRC is guilible and what is the name you idiot Arab prince run a mile as fast as you can. Get the hell out of mother Lanka.

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