Private sector Chambers respond to controversial Darusman Report
Four private sector Chambers which collectively represent a
significant number of businesses in the country in a critique of the
controversial Darusman Report, claims that the panel of experts had
overstepped its mandate in compiling an advisory 'which appears to
resemble a product of a fact finding inquiry including factual
conclusion on disputed facts."
The collective of Chambers demands to know if the conclusions drawn
by the Panel of Experts (POE) were just and fair and if the panel
The collective comprise the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the
Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL)
and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL).
It says that the Private Sector Critique (PSC) only attempts to
critically examine the modus oprendi followed by the POE in its inquiry
and consequent conclusions.
"The objective of this exercise is to draw attention of the UN
Secretary General (UNSG) and others involved in the process of
considering the content of the Advisory to its obvious lapses and
contradictions, which compromise the reliability of the 'Advisory'
The critique inter alia states: The POE claims that it treated an
allegation as credible only when the information was "based on primary
sources that the panel deemed relevant and trustworthy." Contrary to
this claim, which suggests that the allegations were substantiated by
victims and witnesses present on the ground, the POE seems to have
relied exclusively on uncorroborated open sources for some of its
The POE concludes that "in practice, ground forces appear to have
been given significant discretion to use a barrage of artillery as they
advanced." It finds that 'the Sri Lanka Army advanced its military
campaign into the Vanni using large-scale and widespread shelling,
causing large numbers of civilian deaths' and throughout the final
stages of the war, virtually every hospital in the Vanni, whether
permanent or makeshift was hit by artillery." The POE thus concludes
that the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) carried out a deliberate
campaign of shelling civilians and humanitarian objects.
The attribution of GOSL intent and indifference to collateral
civilian death is a total breach of scope and transgresses the basic
tenant of fairness and temperance that must be the cornerstone of expert
advisory opinions - given the volatility of the angst it will and has
created in its wake. For instance, by its own indictment the POE states:
"the LTTE refused civilians to leave using them as hostages, at times
even using their presence as a strategic buffer between themselves and
the advancing Sri Lanka Army. It implemented a policy of forced
recruitment through the war, but in the final stages greatly intensified
its recruitment of people of all ages including children as young as
fourteen. The LTTE forced civilians to dig trenches and other
emplacements for its own defence thereby contributing to a blurring of
the distinction between combatants and civilians and exposing civilians
to additional harm." "It also fired artillery in proximity to large
groups of IDPs and civilian installations."
There seems a strong possibility that this causality of LTTE terror
tactics could have contributed rightly or wrongly on the state actors'
conviction that the greater safety and good of the majority of civilians
would be met by a quick resolution of the conflict. It is also
undeniable that the stated LTTE tactics would have greatly increased the
numbers of civilian casualties. The use of terms such as 'persecution',
'systematic,' 'purposefully', state or organizational policy,' and
attributing sinister 'strategies' to the GOSL, in this context is not
merely irresponsible in its lack of cautionary tenor, it is incendiary
in its impact. Some degree of clarification and/or retraction maybe thus
advisable, if the other substantive issues the POE raises are to be
The lack of reliability of the POE's observations is reflected in the
fact that it refers to the Channel 4 footage as 'authenticated footage'
when the very source it cites in support for authenticity, Mr Philip
Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial executions, merely
states the following regarding the video: "while there are some
unexplained elements in the video, there are strong indications of its
authenticity." The statement attributed to Mr Alston is by no means an
authentication of the video. On the contrary it casts some degree of
doubt regarding the authenticity of some elements in the video.
The POE has relied on the 'Channel 4' video as the basis for a number
of their conclusions. Considering the controversy surrounding the
authenticity of the video footage and the international furor raised in
the wake of its screening, it was counterproductive for the POE to
regurgitate the same disputed sources of information with no new or
discerning perspective. The anti-GOSL bias of the POE is further
reflected in the fact that it interprets the unauthenticated footage and
photographs which depicts persons in uniforms of the SLA as "Sri Lankan
soldiers" without considering alternative possibilities such as
imposters staging the activity to discredit the GOSL.
Significantly all acts of a criminal nature are attributed to the
GOSL or the Sri Lanka police (CID or TID) or the SLA. Yet, positive acts
which bear evidence of a humanitarian approach on the part of the GOSL
or its forces towards the civilians are attributed to 'individual
soldiers' to counter inferences favourable to the GOSL. For example
'those who managed to escape were helped by individual SLA soldiers."
In this context it is puzzling as to why the POE, which has shown a
steep inclination to rely on video footage, did not consider it fit to
assess video footage available in the public domain, showing large
numbers of SLA soldiers rescuing civilians in the midst of artillery and
gun fire, some carrying the injured through the melee. Examination of
such information may have led a reasonable person/body to conclude
alternatively that such rescues were consequent to a collective effort.