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DateLine Friday, 4 January 2008

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Human rights inquiry: Public Hearing begins on Saturday

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry charged with investigating into 16 cases of serious violations of human rights will begin its first public hearings on Saturday at 9.30 a.m. at Committee Room B of the BMICH.

The inquiry will be into the killing of five youths in Trincomalee in January 2006. The Commission has completed preliminary investigations into the case.

The Commission chaired by Justice Nissanka Udalagama comprises Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Manouri Muttetuwegama, Jezima Ismail, S.S Wijeratne, Javid Yusuf, Douglas Premaratne PC, and K C Logeswaran.

Evidence will be led by a team of lawyers headed by Ranjith Abeysuriya PC.

Any person in any way implicated or concerned in the case can be represented at the inquiry by an Attorney-at-Law, or any other person at the discretion of the Commission.

The Public Inquiry will commence pending the enactment of an amendment to the Commissions of Inquiry Act. The proposed amendment permits the Commission to conduct sittings with a quorum of not less than four members.

The current law makes it mandatory for all Members of the Commission to be present at inquiries. Hence the Commission would be compelled to postpone an inquiry, if a member, for instance, falls ill and is unable to attend.

The amendments to the act have been scrutinised by the Supreme Court and sent to Parliament. The Speaker has announced the Supreme Court decision in the House and Parliament is expected to debate the amendment shortly.

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