Ministerial comm. on Easter Sunday attacks PCoI report: Focusing on some recommendations
Report by 15-20 March
Cardinal yet to receive PCoI copy
Refuses meetings with MPs
Report incomplete: SJB
The six-member ministerial committee studying the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) report into the Easter Sunday attacks and the report of the Sectoral Oversight Committee (SOC) on National Security is looking at, among other aspects, how to implement recommendations to strengthen national security, push through related educational reforms, and to compensate the victims, committee member MP Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said.
He told The Sunday Morning that there were recommendations focused on national security including laws to create a separate unit at the Attorney General’s Department to deal with terrorism related matters and a mechanism to review the information received.
“There are also educational reforms such as using all three languages to teach in schools and to integrate students of different communities in schools. We will focus on that and on taking preventive measures, and regarding the compensation that needs to be given to the victims. We are looking at how to implement recommendations and will give a report by 15 or 20 March stating what can be implemented,” he said.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s Spokesman Rev. Fr. Camillus Fernando said that the Cardinal has still not been given or offered a copy of the PCoI report on the Easter Sunday bombings.
He told The Sunday Morning that the Cardinal’s decision not to meet anyone including parliamentarians until he receives a copy of the report stands. “Therefore, the scheduled meeting with the MPs has been cancelled,” he said.
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Dr. Kavinda Jayawardhana also said that at the moment, there was no meeting with the Cardinal.
When queried about the stance of the SJB on the report, the MP said that the issue was spoken about at the party’s Working Committee meeting held on 26 February, where it was decided that the report was incomplete. “Our stance at the moment is that all we can see is the first volume. Therefore, we feel that there needs to be the second and third volumes. The report does not mention the persons who funded the Easter Sunday mastermind Zahran Hashim, provided explosives to him, and helped him. This is about the failure of political leaders and officials,” he told The Sunday Morning.
Meanwhile, SJB MP Harin Fernando said that an official party decision would be made after studying the report in depth. He said that interested parties including SJB MPs, lawyers, and professionals will get together most probably on 2 March to conduct a brainstorming session on the report and to find what its lapses are.
“There will be an official statement about this from the Party General Secretary or the Party Leader once the in-depth analysis is done and then, we will take our party’s stance on the report once the process is completed. Most probably, the SJB Leader will meet the Cardinal with the party’s decision in hand,” he said.
While stating that it is too early to comment on the matter further, the MP said however that his personal opinion is that the report is inconclusive. “This report only talks about what could have been avoided but not the real cause of the attacks or who was instrumental in orchestrating it. Therefore, we find that the report has not served the purpose because we all know that there were negligence-related issues, but what we need to find out is who exactly was responsible and who was behind these attacks,” he told The Sunday Morning.
SJB MP Niroshan Perera meanwhile said that the SJB Working Committee had decided to appoint a technical committee to go through the report.
“Even the Cardinal said that in order to have justice, we need to find out the persons who actually carried out the attacks. At the same time, we feel that the Government should have done its own investigation. The Minister in charge doesn’t give proper answers. We don’t know if there’s any progress in these investigations,” the MP said.
He also commented on the remarks made by the Cardinal on seeking an international probe into the attacks if laws are not properly enforced against the perpetrators. “We want this to be investigated in our country but if the Government doesn’t have the will to do it for some reason, justice for the innocent should be obtained from any other avenue,” he said.