Rights Group faults AG for Chemmani prosecution delays

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 January 2006, 12:10 GMT]
Noting that "six years after the exhumation of the graves however, the police were only able to tell the court that as there have been no instructions forthcoming from the attorney general’s department, they have been unable to proceed with the case," the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), in a press release issued Thursday, accused the Attorney General's Department of "failing in its duties promptly and effectively prosecute perpetrators of serious crimes," and urged the AG's Department to "immediately initiate effective legal proceedings on the basis of the Chemmani exhumation."

"The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) understands that after the exhumation, the forensic experts submitted their reports to the attorney general’s department and steps were also taken for DNA identification of some of the uncovered remains. As a result, two of the bodies were positively identified.

"Under any other justice system, the next step would be the filing of indictments at a high court. Six years after the exhumation, the Sri Lankan justice system has kept the case pending in a magistrate’s court with no indictments being filed. Furthermore, the office of the attorney general, the agency responsible for such matters, has given no reason for the long delay in the proceedings. This situation raises radical concerns regarding its accountability and responsibility," the press release said.

Noting other serious failures of effectively prosecuting perpertrators of serious crimes in cases including Bindunuwewa massacre and Embilipitia disappearance of 48 school children, the AHRC said, "Yet another failing of the attorney general's department is the prolonged delays in justice found throughout the country, an issue the AHRC has raised previously. These delays in court trials as well as due process amount to a clear betrayal of justice. Being primarily responsible for criminal prosecutions, the attorney general’s department cannot escape its duties by blaming other agencies for the delays. In the case of Chemmani in particular, the responsibility for the lack of progress in the last six years lies solely with the attorney general."

AHRC called for the "establishment of a commission of inquiry, headed by senior members of the judicial and legal professions, as well as other imminent persons, to review the work of the attorney general’s department."

The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984, the Organizations website said.


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AHRC: Six years after Chemmani exhumation

 

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