Provide justice for victims of Easter bombing after four years of failure

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 00:00 –      – 12

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By National Peace CouncilThe UK Channel 4 television documentary that details the alleged perpetrators of the Easter 2019 mass bombings in Sri Lanka, and their motivations, has reignited the debate and negative emotions over the issue of investigations done so far. A total of 269 people were killed on 21 April 2019, most of them being ordinary citizens worshipping in churches, along with 45 foreign nationals from 13 countries in hotels, and over 500 others were wounded in six simultaneous suicide bombings.

The savagery of the bombings and uncertainty it generated in the entire population virtually shut down the country for two months and dealt a crippling blow to the national economy, the consequences of which are still being experienced today.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced his intention to appoint a committee of investigation to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and to appoint a parliamentary select committee to investigate the allegation by the former Attorney General that there was a mastermind behind the attacks. The president has also said that upon completion of these two investigations the reports will be presented to Parliament for a final decision regarding how to proceed from there on.

President Wickremesinghe’s proposals appear to be similar to those already implemented without success. On 22 May 2019, the Speaker appointed a Select Committee of Parliament which presented its report on 23 October 2019. On 22 September 2019, President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge which handed in its report on 1 February 2021. But to no avail as those who plotted the bombings remain unidentified.

It is the failure to identify those who were behind the attack, take them before the law and hold them accountable through the previous national inquiries that has given rise to the continuing demands, mainly by the Catholic Church and also by the families of victims, for an international inquiry to obtain truth and justice. Following the Channel 4 disclosures Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has also called for an international investigation. Likewise, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has urged the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct a comprehensive follow-up investigation that is independent, transparent, and inclusive, with international support and active involvement of the victims and their representatives, such as the Catholic Church.

The National Peace Council believes that such an investigation with international participation could help to convince the Sri Lankan people, victims and the international community about the Government’s genuine intentions to ensure accountability and justice for the victims. As an additional benefit it could also minimise international condemnations and sanctions that will be detrimental to the country at a time when it requires maximum international assistance.

 

 

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