An opportunity to rectify a grave error
Posted on August 24th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

 

The government came under fire from the Opposition in Parliament on Tuesday over the Office on Missing Persons Bill (OMPB), which the Speaker is said to have signed into law. Even the JVP, which is for the OMPB, insisted that some of the amendments including those it proposed had not been accommodated. Urged to resubmit the Bill with amendments to Parliament again Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella said he would explore the possibility of doing so. Will he prove that he is a man of his word?

The Joint Opposition (JO) and the JVP accused the government of rigging a vote on a supplementary estimate in Parliament about three months ago. Some of the MPs were not in their seats when the vote was taken. The chair and the parliamentary staff took the count wrong and declared the estimate passed, but subsequently, it had to be submitted again. The OMPB was also ‘passed’ under similar circumstances. The House was in turmoil with some Opposition MPs protesting in the well of parliament when it was ‘ratified’.

A minister told the media the following day that the government had mustered a two-thirds majority for the Bill, but he was unable to say how many MPs had supported it!

The JO’s failure to challenge the OMPB in courts cannot be cited in extenuation of the deplorable manner in which it was ‘ratified’. The government, which claims to practise good governance, should have sought the opinion of the apex court, suo motu, on the Bill and rid it of the section inconsistent with the Constitution and other questionable features the Opposition has taken exception to.

Everybody is at sea as regards the amendments which are said to have been incorporated into the OMPB; it is not clear whether some controversial features thereof such as Section 11 have been retained or obviated. This particular section gives the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) untramelled powers to ‘enter into agreements with any person or organisation, whether local or foreign’ among other things. It is being argued in some quarters that if this provision has not been done away with the OMP will even be able to enlist the support of the International Criminal Court!

As we have pointed out in this space previously the OMPB, in its original form, sought to whittle down the powers of the executive president further by making Constitutional Council (CC) recommendations mandatory in respect of the appointment of personnel to the Office on Missing Persons (OMP); this kind of additional responsibility given to the CC amounts to further curtailment of the powers of the executive president elected directly by the people and, therefore, the OMPB, according to the original draft, was a constitutional amendment in all but name. The OMPB was not consistent with the Constitution. Article 82 (1) states: “No Bill for the amendment of any provision of the Constitution shall be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless the provision to be repealed, altered or added, and consequential amendments, if any, are expressly specified in the Bill and is described in the long title thereof as being an Act for the amendment of the Constitution.” What would the legal pundits of the government say to this?

It is a pity that even the self-appointed guardians of democracy including western governments and NGOs have welcomed the seriously flawed OMPB in spite of the controversial manner in which it has been ‘passed’.

The government has set a very bad precedent which has made a mockery of its avowed commitment to good governance. The Opposition’s protests against the OMPB must be heeded and remedial action taken.

2 Responses to “An opportunity to rectify a grave error”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Best Amendment will be REPEALING it TOTALLY!

    That way, the Yamapalanaya will AVOID being held ACCOUNTABLE to the People of Sri Lanka for what amounts to TREASON, for it VIOLATES the nation’s Constitution and UNDERMINES the Nation’s Sovereignty.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    This Is How The Office Of The Missing Persons (Which Will Become A Bogus ‘Evidence’ Manufacturing Machine) Manufacture Bogus ‘Evidence’ Of 40,000 Missing Persons To Try Our Brave Armed Forces For So Called War Crimes They Never, Ever Committed

    In the Missing Persons Act, a relative or a friend can make an official inquiry (but a totally bogus inquiry) from the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) by email inquiring as to the whereabouts of their relative or friend.

    There are over 8 lakhs to 10 lakhs Tamil diaspora asylum seekers (actually economic migrants), a vast majority of who support the separatist terrorist LTTE and its aim of a separate state. If even 40,000 of these Tamil diaspora who support the separatist terrorist LTTE write bogus emails to the OMP inquiring the whereabouts of their friend or relative (but this friend or relative is actually living alongside them in these countries i.e. the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) these inquiries will officially be accepted by the OMP as 40,000 missing persons.

    According to the provisions of the OMP Act, even if the OMP inquires after these let us say 40,000 and finds out that these are all bogus inquiries and that all these 40,000 persons are actually living alongside the inquirer i.e. their relative or friend and these complaints about these persons being missing are all bogus, the missing persons, now found by the OMP, can request that their whereabouts not be revealed to their relative or friend or be made public. So officially these 40,000 persons will still be missing!!!

    Then the OMP will use these bogus 40,000 missing persons (who are actually living comfortably in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) as manufactured ‘evidence’ that war crimes happened in Sri Lanka (and all these bogus inquirers will state that these persons went missing during the 2006-2009 period) and our Sri Lankan Armed Forces will be persecuted for committing war crimes that they never, ever committed by a judicial process using these bogus email inquiries.

    The Missing Persons Act states specifically that if the missing person who is now found requests that the fact that they are now found not be revealed to the public that person will remain as missing as far as the OMP is concerned. That is how the OMP will manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ of 40,000 missing persons so that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces can be persecuted for committing bogus war crimes.

    The OMP emails cannot be checked by any outside body as stated in the Act since all evidence (almost all bogus) gathered by the OMP remains confidential. The OMP cannot be taken to the Supreme Court on this issue. However the OMP should absolutely and immediately be taken to the Supreme Court regarding what has been written above which is what would happen when this OMP is set up.

    The OMP will become a bogus ‘evidence’ manufacturing machine which will gather such bogus inquiries via email from those members of the Tamil diaspora who are supportive of the LTTE terrorists and who will send bogus email inquiries by their thousands. All these bogus inquiries (of people who are actually living in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) will then be misused as missing person inquiries.

    I did not realize that the Sinhalese were this stupid as to allow such a process within the Missing Persons Act which can be blatantly misused in order to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ like this. The OMP process is not transparent, it will happen in total secrecy, no one in Sri Lanka will be able to question it, not our police, not our courts, not our Sri Lankan citizens, nobody. All the OMP will do is gather bogus email ‘evidence’ such as described above which will then be misused as missing person inquiries to try the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for bogus war crimes that they never, ever committed.

    The OMP process as described above must be stopped immediately. If a relative or a friend really and genuinely wants to find out about their genuinely missing relative or friend (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist), they can make a complaint to the OMP in person in public. This is the only way that Sri Lanka and the world will know that their inquiry is genuine. This was the methodology followed by the earlier Paranagama Commission which then received 23,000 complaints from relatives or friends of the missing person (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist or our perished Sri Lankan Forces soldiers) but they made their complaint in public in person to the commission. This is the only way to ensure authenticity and make the process transparent since this happens in the public arena. However, even with such safeguards, even some of those complaints may have been bogus.

    The OMP should be stopped immediately since it is not a transparent process at all as described above but a totally secretive process where no one and nobody can request to be provided an opportunity to even peruse, investigate or look at the email inquiries received by the OMP. If the UNHRC, the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists genuinely want to find out about perished LTTE terrorists, this Yahapalanaya Government could expand and extend the scope of the already set up Paranagama Commission in order to make such inquiries. This process should be totally following Sri Lankan Law, within Sri Lankan jurisdiction, paid for totally by the Sri Lankan Government only and with only Sri Lankan citizens appointed as commission members and investigators. In fact the entire staff should be composed of Sri Lankan citizens only. The process should be a totally domestic process with no interference or input whatsoever from foreign countries. Most importantly, all complaints should be made in person by relatives and friends in public if their complaint is genuine.

    The Missing Persons Act is totally dangerous as pointed out above and should be dismissed totally as it is highly dangerous and a totally secretive process as described above designed and set up to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

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