Friday, 21 November 2003  
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Law and Order Commission begins hearings

by Sarath Malalasekera

President Chandrika Bandaranike Kumaratunga in a message to the inaugural sessions of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Matters Relating to Maintenance of Law and Order, stated it was necessary to establish a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of inquiring into the matters in respect of which an inquiry will, "in my opinion, be in the public interest."

The President appointed retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice S.W.B. Wadugodapitiya PC as the Commission Chairman. The other two members of the Commission are retired Additional Secretary to the President and a former Ambassador to France C.G. Wickremasinghe and former Inspector General of Police Dr. T.P. Frank de Silva.

Supreme Court Registrar Bandula Atapattu, Secretary to the Commission M. A. Cyril, Additional Secretary D.G. Dissanayake, Senior State Counsel Dappula de Livera and State Counsel Menaka Wijesundera assisting the Commission.

The President's message said the Commission will inquire whether there has been a significant increase in crime in Sri Lanka over the last two decades affecting the maintenance of law and order. The message said "if so, is it due to any deficiencies on the part of State Agencies charged with maintenance of law and order. If so, the reasons for such deficiencies. What remedial measures are recommended for the proper maintenance of law and order in Sri Lanka.

I authorise and empower you, the three Commissioners, to hold such inquiries and make all other investigations into the matters as may appear necessary, and require you to transmit to me within three months from the date hereof a report or interim reports thereon, under your hand, setting out the findings of your inquiries and your recommendations relating thereto.

I do hereby require and direct that such part of any inquiry relating to the matters as you may in your discretion determine, shall not be held in public. All public officers and other persons to whom you may apply for assistance or information for the purpose of your inquiry, to render all such assistance and furnish all such information as may be properly rendered and furnished, in that behalf.

That the Provisions of Section 14 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 393), shall apply to the Commission."

The first witness to give evidence before the Commission was Deshamanya Dr. P.R. Anthonis, Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Deshabandu A.T. Ariyaratne also gave evidence before the Commission.

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