Catholic Church denies backing extension for AG Rajaratnam

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Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera

… condemns govt. move, finds fault with Office of AG for failing to ensure justice for Easter Sunday victims

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has categorically denied reports in section of the media that the Catholic Church backed the granting of an extension in service to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC.

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera, who is also the Bishop of Kurunegala, and its Secretary General Rt. Rev. Dr. J.D. Anthony, declared that there hadn’t been any dialogue between the Church and the AG regarding the Easter Sunday Presidential Commission Inquiry report.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Church: Our attention is drawn to the news articles published, in some of the newspapers and other social and electronic media in the first week of June 2024, with regards to a purported statement issued by His Excellency the President concerning an extension granted to the term of the current Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

The said articles refers to the unfounded occurrence of an incident whereupon that the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) had met with His Excellency the President and that at such stage, His Excellency the President had appointed a three-member committee comprising the Secretary to His Excellency the President Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Mr. Sagala Rathnayake and the Hon Attorney General Mr. Sanjay Rajaratnam in order to discuss the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Report into the Easter Sunday attacks.

The said article further astonishingly states that, the Hon. Attorney General Mr. Sanjay Rajaratnam is currently performing a fundamental role in his capacity as a member in the aforementioned committee appointed by His Excellency the President in order to coordinate with the CBCSL pertaining to the future steps to be taken concerning the investigations involving the Easter Sunday attacks. It also claims that the said Mr. Sanjay Rajaratnam has been in constant dialogue with the CBCSL which is totally false.

At the very outset itself, we, the members of the CBCSL, vehemently deny the above-mentioned misleading position set out in the given article. We seek to clarify in response that there has never been any such dialogue whatsoever which took place between the Chairman of the CBCSL and The Hon. Attorney General at any point of time.

Moreover, the said article highlights the fact that the Hon. Attorney General is being granted an extension of his term in office, as he is due to retire shortly. We are astounded at the fact that the said article implies that the His Excellency the President is at this stage unreasonably making use of the Easter Sunday Attacks and exploiting even the CBCSL purely to seek such an extension of the Attorney General’s term. We wish to add with grave concern that the said Mr.

Sanjay Rajaratnam was in fact appointed as the Hon. Attorney General of the island on the 26th May 2021, and that for the last 36 months he has failed to even implement the series of recommendations clearly set out in the Easter Sunday Attacks Presidential Commission of Inquiry Final Report, up to date. Furthermore, we state very firmly that during the tenure of the office of the said Hon. Attorney General, the Catholic Church has at numerous instances consistently addressed in writing and called for the said Hon. Attorney General to intervene and bring forth justice to the victims of the heinous Easter Sunday attacks, which have been continuously disregarded and not been acted upon by the said Mr. Sanjay Rajaratnam.

We state categorically that the CBCSL has absolutely nothing to do with the extension of the period of Office of the Honorable Attorney General. His Excellency the President’s intention as reported to seek an extension by making use of the Easter Sunday attacks and the CBCSL is wholeheartedly condemned.

We are also deeply concerned with the statement attributed to the President, reported in the final paragraph of the said article which states that if anyone wishes to question the extension of the period of office of the Hon. Attorney General, they should direct their questions to the CBCSL.

Therefore, this insinuation that the CBCSL is responsible for the extension of the office of the Hon. Attorney General is false, misleading and malicious.In these circumstances, we the members of the CBCSL completely disassociate ourselves from these mischievous attempts to discredit the CBCSL in the guise of the Attorney General’s extension of his term of office.”

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