Former Justice Minister counters allegations, seeks joint Lanka-UK probe
Former Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, MP, yesterday alleged that a fresh high profile attempt was being made to secure asylum for bogus refugees at the expense of Sri Lankan government.
President’s Counsel Rajapakse pointed out that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government was being targeted by those who had been engaged in the lucrative project to secure political asylum status for economic refugees.
Rajapakse made the revelation in response to The Island query regarding an exclusive AP report that dealt with alleged mass scale rape and extreme torture of men taken into custody during early 2016 to July this year. Rape had never been an issue during the war though there were some isolated cases, the UNPer said, recalling one-time US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton falsely accusing the Army of systematic rape.
An irate Rajapakse emphasized that as he had held the justice ministry portfolio during the period under discussion he could categorically reject the allegations. The MP said that Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit in mid July lambasted Sri Lanka over human rights.
Pointing out that the AP had placed the number of Sri Lankan Tamils now seeking political asylum in Europe, including UK at 52, MP Rajapakse urged the government to seek clarification from relevant diplomatic missions as to the circumstances under which they secured visas.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Colonne yesterday told The Island that the FM had written to the AP in addition to the editor of New York Times.
Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam, in a letter addressed to NYT sought the assistance and cooperation of all relevant parties, including those outside the country as evidence was crucial for investigations. Kariyawasam emphasized that all cases of allegations would be investigated and action taken.
Rajapakse emphasized that the claim they had been badly ill-treated for trying to resurrect the LTTE was nothing but a joke and the Colombo diplomatic community was aware of the ground situation. The LTTE had been crushed once and for all in May 2009 and was certainly not in a position to cause trouble, the MP said, emphasizing there weren’t terrorist attacks on police or armed forces since the conclusion of the conflict.
At the time this edition went into press The Island hadn’t received British High Commission response to its query as regards those interviewed by AP in the UK receiving British visa here or entering through illegal means.
MP Rajapakse said that he wouldn’t have lost ministerial portfolio in August if he remained quiet in the face of unfair criticism by Emmerson.
The AP quoted South African human rights investigator Piers Pigou, who had interviewed torture survivors for the past 40 years in the world’s most dire countries, as having said: “the sheer scale of brutality is nothing like what he has heard before. The levels of sexual abuse being perpetuated in Sri Lanka by authorities are the most egregious and perverted that I’ve ever seen.”
MP Rajapakse pointed out that on the basis of interviews that had been conducted in the UK, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the military were accused of rape and torture in custody.
The AP quoted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid as having said that while the U.N. couldn’t confirm latest accusations until they launched an investigation, clearly the reports were horrifying and merit a much closer inspection from their part, especially if they occurred in 2016 and 2017.
The MP alleged that fresh allegations directed against Sri Lanka should be examined against the backdrop of Lord Naseby convincingly disputing in the House of Lords UN allegations pertaining to the massacre of over 40,000 civilians.
The former Justice Minister pointed out that a statement attributed to a 22-year-old person identified as Witness 205 during AP interview in July this year had revealed the absurdity of the allegations. Rajapakse said the boy had been 13 years of age at the time the Army brought the LTTE to its knees on the Vanni front.
The AP quoted the boy as having said: “I want the world to know what is happening in Sri Lanka. The war against Tamils hasn’t stopped.”
MP Rajapakse said that had they been really harassed they would have sought refuge in India. UNP Colombo District MP said that records available with authorities here and abroad would reveal that hardly anyone claiming threat to life sought protection in India.
The former minister explained specific measures taken by the government of Sri Lanka to block Sri Lankans leaving for Australia. Rajapakse emphasized whatever the problems, there were certainly no push factors for people to flee the country.