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@ g'eDl @lelo 6@n@ ont@osi eoet)o galrdrana Loafl5 a-fiooLooan qb6o6uurd19(g Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

23.11.2011

Mr. Ruki Fernando, Head, Human Rights Conflict Programme, Law & Society Trust, 3, Kynsey Terrace, Colombo 08
Dear Sir,

HRCSL RESPONSE TO LAW & SOCIETY TRUST LETTER AND DISCUSSION
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has decided to respond to your letter 2nd August 201 I and place on record certain facts pertaining to your aforesaid letter and your discussion with the Commission on Il'n July 201L

of

in the lirst instance we have to record our position concerning tite matter mentioned as lbllor,vs in paragraph 3 of your letter & subtitled: "General Comments" :"The last meeting that I had with the Chairman and Commissioners resulted with (sic) the Commissioners threatening me with contempt, due to my assertion that their appointment was unconstitutional. lt is my hope that interactions with you and the new Commissioners will not lead to such irrcidents". (Emphasis added)

At this stage we wish to emphasize the fact that the Chairman and the members of the
Commission have been duly appointed and If you have any doubts about it the HRCSL is not the proper forum to challenge it, as you would know as any attorney-at-law'
The Commission granted an opportunity for you to discuss human rights problems as a matter of courtesy and openness even without verifying any details about your organization vis-d-vis its functioning, membership, constitution or registration under the relevant Act.

Be that as it may, your letter contains many aspects that go beyond our capacity to entertain or attend to in terms of the HRCSL Act under which we function, In fact many of those are matters that may be taken up by civil society organizations with the government or placed before civil society to be released through a democratic rnethodology and process.

A few exbmples of such matters that go beyond the purwiew of the HRCSL Act under which this
Commission operates are
:

rb5 eo)o tD)bcs)e6: o.to 36, 6'6 o)o, oto)go 08 dlrygnor ergyeueuaLb: 36, dlairen9 erl$' Glenqg6q--08 Head Office: No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 08 Sri Lanka

Tel: 94-11-2694925, 2685980, 2685981, 2685339 Fax: 2694924 Chairman - Tel: ++ 94 011 2696470 E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk
Secretary - Tel : ++ 94 011 2685337 Hotline Tel: ++ 94 011 2689064 Web :www.hrcsl'org

l. 2. 3.

" To inform civil

society and general public, the position of the HRC with regard to ratification of the Optional Protocol to Convention against Torture and Convention against Disappearances". (Emphasis added)

"To inform civil society and general public. the position of the HRC with regard to the need for a 'Right to Information Act' and ' Victim and Witness Protection Act' in
Sri Lanka. (Emphasis added)

"To inform civil society and seneral public. whether the HRC intends to investigate allegationd of violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the last phase of the war in 2009, contained in the video documentary screened by Channel 4" etc.
(Emphasis added)

In any case, the Commission has already gone into and continues to go into complaints regarding alleged incidents during the final stage of the northeast war and even before or after its final stage. The Commission has also taken steps to ensure non-violation of human rights, by visiting police stations, camps where people are being detained and places where internally displaced persons are constrained to live. Furthermore, rnany of the matters you have raised in your letter refer to the period prior to the appointment of the present members of the Commission, in February 2011. However, those matters are being looked into and dealt with, along with the heavy work-load regarding fresh complaints.

We would also like to enlighten you regarding the project we have already commenced to display on the HRCSL website - for the information of the media and the people - reports of inquiries conducted and awareness programmes undertaken by the Commission, so that it will not be necessary to inform about such matters to individuals or civil society organizations as stressed in you r letter.
As far as amendments required to update the HRCSL Act are concerned, the Commission hopes to make certain recommendations to the government, in due course. We understand fully that no society is static but always changing along with its beliefs and concepts - political or otherwise also changing accordingly. The HRCSL too has come into existence as a result of the same unchangeable phenomenon of change. Developments and improvements in the sphere of human rights will follow suit, inevitably and eventually. It will be so even in the case of internationally accepted human rights. Accordingly, the HRCSL will suggest amendments to the HRCSL Act in due course in keeping with the changes taking place in the sphere of human rights nationally and internationally.
Yours

Justice Priyantha R P Perera Chairman Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka