Mahinda Rajapaksa’s remark on ‘Office of the Missing Persons’ draws flak

Colombo, July 23 : The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a regional non-governmental organization that monitors human rights in Asia, has slammed former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa's statement on the establishment of Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) by the current government to investigate the enforced disappearances during the war. Rajapaksa had this week said that proposed bill to set up an office of missing persons targeted government troops who defeated the LTTE ending the three-decade ethnic civil war. "What it directly says is that enforced disappearances which are an internationally recognized heinous crime should not be investigated in Sri Lanka because the culprits may involve some members of the armed forces," the Colombo Page quoted AHRC statement, as saying. "It is one of the basic norms of a civilized society that crimes must be investigated, irrespective of whoever the suspects are. A civilized legal system could exist only on the acceptance of this fundamental norm that all crimes should be prosecuted," the statement added. The human rights organization said that prosecution of a crime is an imperative duty of the state and no state can make any exception to this rule except at the cost of undermining its own authority. It pressed that Rajapaksa's statement appears as the savior of the armed forces. "However, the public impression that is created by this statement is seriously damaging to the image of the armed forces," the statement underscored. The Asian Human Rights Commission said Rajapaksa's statement is a blatant attack on the principles of rule of law and of good governance. "If, Mr Rajapaksa is perhaps thinking of such a situation, then he should come out clean about his own involvement in a crime, rather than try to implicate the armed forces," it stressed.