The judgment in the Tissainayagam case has generated a mixed reaction. It has left some happy and others irate as is the way with justice, which is in the final analysis reducible to a logical conclusion derived from a set of premises based on available and verifiable facts.
We don`t intend to discuss the judgment at issue. Disagreements as regards court decisions could always be settled through the effective appeal mechanisms built into the judicial system. However, we cannot but deal with some extraneous matters such as the knee-jerk reaction of certain media rights outfits and foreign governments to the outcome of the Tissainayagam case. They have expressed displeasure, which is being blown out of proportion by the western media to the extent of ridiculing the Sri Lankan judiciary.
The US has, true to form, taken the moral high ground. The State Department has said the US is `disappointed to learn of the verdict and the severity of the sentence`. Ironically, the US, which has taken exception to a judgment based on evidence ascertained and proved through proper process and procedure, has no qualms about lending its voice to a bloc that has rushed to a conclusion, based on some unsubstantiated allegations, that Sri Lanka has committed war crimes!
The US forfeited whatever right it may have had to be critical of court rulings in other countries the day it hanged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. What is at issue is not the hanging of that monster responsible for crimes against civilians but the manner in which it was done. Hussein`s execution had all the trappings of a `judicial assassination`, to say the least. The US had the hangman`s noose ready for Hussein when it decided on the second invasion of Iraq. His trial was blatantly lopsided and obviously orchestrated. Puppet judges were handpicked to do as the US said and their verdict was highly predictable.
Strangely, the US, which is disturbed by the imprisonment of Tissainayagam, was not so perturbed by the incarceration and execution by the LTTE of thousands of civilians in the Vanni as to demand that the Sri Lankan government take immediate action to defeat terrorism and deliver those hapless people from their suffering. Instead, the US sought to thwart Sri Lanka`s war effort, which helped demolish LTTE prisons and kangaroo courts and secure the release of people from the clutches of terrorists.
When Muntadar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq last December in protest against US aggression against his country, he was wrestled to the floor, roughed up and prosecuted. Yes, he must be made to pay for that offence as shoes are there to be worn and not thrown at others, especially Heads of State. But, while pushing for action against Muntadar, whose intention was far from harming President Bush, the US shamelessly tried to scuttle Sri Lanka`s hunt for a bunch of bloodthirsty terrorist leaders responsible for killing a democratically elected Sri Lankan President (Ranasinghe Premadasa) and a former Prime Minister of India (Rajiv Gandhi) besides a large number of democratic leaders belonging to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities making an attempt on a President (Chandrika Kumaratunga) and conspiring to assassinate the incumbent President (Mahinda Rajapaksa). Through such action, the US has only made a mockery of its much flaunted love for democracy.
The US is said to be the self-appointed global policeman. If its criticism of the court ruling in question is any indication, it is now trying to play the role of the Global Judge or the Judge of Judges in the world. At this rate, the day may not be far off when developing countries are forced to send copies of judgments to be delivered by their courts, to Washington for perusal and sanctioning by the US government, maybe as a condition for releasing IMF loans!
Finally, the critics of the judgment in the Tissainayagam case ought to be asked if they read the full text thereof before forming their opinions and if so, what, in their book, should have been the verdict.