Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons rejected the concerns raised by a think tank over its public sittings and cautioned the critics not to cast unwarranted doubts in the Tamil community.
Issuing a statement, the Secretary to the Commission H. W. Gunadasa said the criticism made against the Commission by an immature journalist, whose sole interest was allegedly to report negatively regarding the Commission and deliberately refrain from publishing facts and figures which transpires during public sittings of the Commission.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a leading public policy research and advocacy think tank in Sri Lanka, earlier this month raised concerns about the public sittings in Kilinochchi district held from September 27 - 30.
The CPA in a report raised the concerns over the poor translation of Commission's questions to the complainants and the presence of security forces outside the venue.
Responding to the concerns over poor quality of translation, the Secretary to the Commission said during the said sittings, the Commission had to hire an alternate translator from the Legal Aid Commission due to the non-availability of the regular translator.
Concerning the military presence outside the venue, the Secretary said the military personnel were on their routine duty and it is a normal process.
When the military personnel were questioned they have said that they were not instructed by anyone to cover the sitting.
There was no interference on the part of the security forces and the Commission was not inconvenienced at any time by the security forces, he stressed.
The Secretary said the Commission does not place restrictions on the media covering the sittings and does not even question any person regarding their identity as a member of the media.
On the issue of the validity of questions asked by the Commission during public sittings, the official said the Commission needs no advice on the nature of the questions that have to be asked which are relevant to the Mandate.
"The Commission regrets the attitude of critics by portraying the Commission negatively in practically everything the Commission is doing including expressing concern of the independence of the Commission by stating that they are extremely concerned of the independence and impartiality in the line of questioning."
Referring to the criticism that the Commission is unable to carry out a comprehensive, independent and transparent inquiry into the matters Mandated due to structural flaws of Commissions of inquiry in Sri Lanka, the Secretary said the views by the critics endorse the views of the international community.
Regarding the concern over the Commission's ability to conduct into the now expanded Mandate, the Official said the President has appointed five international experts to advice the Commission on matters of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and the Commission and needs no advice from any source with regard to the implementation of the expanded Mandate.
Expressing regret over the unwarranted criticism the Secretary to the Commission urged the critics not to cast doubts on the minds of the Tamil community and relatives of missing persons who have shown their confidence in the Commission judging by the large number of persons attending the public sittings.
The Commission urged the critics to withhold their criticism until a final report is submitted to the President.