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Government Gazette

IIGEP statement smacks of ulterior motive - Minister

The Government yesterday strongly objected to the parting statement made by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) which it contends had clearly gone beyond the IIGEP's mandate in commenting on the Government and its political will.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa met the IIGEP led by Justice Bhagawati and two other representatives on Tuesday.

The President at that meeting clearly told the IIGEP team that he was not satisfied and rejected the final statement made by the IIGEP that the Government does not have the political will to facilitate the work of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to show results, Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the weekly Cabinet briefing yesterday.

President Rajapaksa clearly pointed out to Justice Bhagawati and his two colleagues that if he (President) did not have the political will, he would have not appointed the 11 members of the IIGEP. "That is the President's self demonstration and the very clear political will on the part of the Government to open a domestic inquiry to international scrutiny," Minister Samarasinghe said.

The second point that the President highlighted at the meeting was that the IIGEP has clearly gone beyond its mandate and the responsibility given by the President to the IIGEP by commenting on the Government and its political will.

President Rajapaksa said this is something that cannot be accepted and he did not feel that it was justified being incorporated in the sixth and final statement of the IIGEP.

"While opposing this particular statement, we also pointed out that the Government has a reasonable feeling on the final statement made by the IIGEP that the Government does not have a political will and may have been influenced as a result of some other agenda being wanted to be played by this group," Samarasinghe said.

"Because this was not incorporated in the agenda or as a part of their responsibility we have a genuine reason to feel that there may have been other reasons why such a statement had to be made," the Minister said.

"I am quite pleased that the IIGEP is talking about the lack of a political will of the Government since this will expose them badly.

"That shows their lack of professionalism and that they may be having other ulterior motives in talking about the Government and its political will when they have no business whatsoever to talk about such things.

"If this issue comes up internationally, we will certainly put forward our position. I am sure whoever listens to it will also start entertaining doubts as to whether these group of experts really discharged their mandate according to the way the mandate had to be discharged," the Minister said.

"When they say the Government does not have a political will, it is a very broad statement which gives ammunition to the people who are trying to sling mud at the Government and discredit the Government's image internationally".

However, the Government is willing to discuss the other main issues raised by the IIGEP and look into them further.

Those are within the mandate. "As long as they have commented on the issues within the mandate, we are very reasonable regarding such issues. If they have put recommendations, we are willing to take it on board. But on this issue, we have good grounds to take it up to the international community. Unfortunately by making such statements, the IIGEP has turned a possible best practice into a worst practice," he said.

Whether the IIGEP is here or not, the CoI will continue its office, the Minister emphasised.

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