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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 181st session
(Geneva, 10 October 2007)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, assassinated on 24 December 2005, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/181/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 180th session (May 2007),

Taking note of the information provided by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, forwarded by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to United Nations Office at Geneva on 5 October 2007,

Recalling that Mr. Pararajasingham, a prominent member of parliament belonging to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was shot dead on 24 December 2005 during the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Mary's Church in Batticaloa by unidentified gunmen in the presence of some 300 persons; his wife was also struck by two bullets and taken to hospital in critical condition; that St. Mary's Church is located in a high-security zone between two military checkpoints and, at the time of the murder, additional security forces were on duty and the church was reportedly surrounded by military personnel, which means that the culprits could only have escaped with the complicity of the security forces; that soon after the murder Mr. Pararajasingham's family and TNA parliamentarians reportedly gave President Rajapakse the names of three suspects, but no action has been taken against them; they are (i) Kaluthavalai Ravi, a member of the Karuna group, (ii) Kalai (EPDP) and (iii) Sitha alias Pradeep, head of the Karuna intelligence; that the witnesses who identified the latter are now reportedly abroad for fear of their lives,

Noting that the Karuna group, a breakaway group of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is widely believed to be cooperating with and enjoying the support of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces,

Recalling further that investigations started immediately after the shooting and that the authorities have provided the following information in this regard:

  • The priest who was playing the organ made a statement to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the effect that he could identify one of the assailants, whom he also described; no one else gave the investigators any particulars of the assailants;

  • Inquiries revealed that the two assailants had used two handguns, and six empty 9 mm casings were found at the scene; they were sent, through the courts, to the government analysts to determine whether they could serve as evidence in identifying the group responsible for the assassination;

  • In July 2006, the police took into custody two members of the Armed Forces suspected of involvement in the assassination; an identification parade was held on 16 August 2006 but witnesses, including the main eyewitness, failed to make a positive identification and they were released for lack of evidence; after having been discharged from the proceedings by the Court, they were handed over to the Military Police and received some minor punishment for breach of military discipline;

  • The area of the murder was once dominated by the Karuna group, and that group and the LTTE had fought for dominance of the area; this has led to a situation where there is less public cooperation for fear of reprisals; in view of the public's failure to come forward with any evidence, the CID has reached a deadlock in the investigation, which is nevertheless continuing; in order to address the problem of witnesses, a draft bill on Witness Protection has been drawn up and is before the Government for consideration,

    Recalling further that President Rajapakse has set up a national commission of inquiry to look into cases of grave human rights violations, including the case of Mr. Pararajasingham, in addition to an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to observe the proceedings of the National Commission; considering that both the National Commission of Inquiry and the IIGEP have started to function and held joint meetings in February, May and August 2007, but that the case of Mr. Pararajasingham is not among the first three cases that the National Commission of Inquiry has chosen to examine; considering also that, in addition to this, pursuant to the Commission of Inquiry Act, President Rajapakse appointed two Commissioners to "inquire into and obtain information in respect of the circumstances relating to the assassination of Mr. Pararajasingham, the manner in which the investigation was carried out and whether it was adequate and impartial and to make recommendations" (Official Gazette 1459/17 of 23 August 2006),

Considering that, at the meeting the Committee held with the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation to the 117th Assembly, he invited the Committee to carry out an on-site mission to gather first-hand information on the cases concerning members of the Sri Lankan parliament, including the case of Mr. Pararajasingham,

Bearing in mind that Sri Lanka is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is thus bound to guarantee the right to life, which entails the obligation for the State to conduct a diligent, effective and thorough investigation into any murder in order to identify the culprits and bring them to justice,

  1. Thanks the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation for the invitation extended to the Committee to carry out an on-site mission to Sri Lanka; considers that such a mission might indeed enable the Committee to gain a better understanding of the investigations carried out; and requests the Committee to make the necessary arrangements for the visit to go ahead as quickly as possible;

  2. Also thanks the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights for his cooperation and the information provided;

  3. Notes with deep concern the total absence of any tangible progress in the investigation almost two years after the crime was committed, particularly since individuals whose names were provided to the authorities as possible perpetrators have so far not been called for questioning;

  4. Believes that the National Commission of Inquiry established by the President of Sri Lanka can make an important contribution to shedding light on Mr. Pararajasingham's murder and combating impunity in the country, provided it has the means to carry out its work efficaciously and with the necessary independence; reaffirms nevertheless that the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry in no way relieves the authorities of their duty to pursue the investigation vigorously in this case and to explore all existing leads in order to identify the perpetrators and instigators of this crime;

  5. Notes that, in addition to the National Commission of Inquiry and IIGEP, a special Commission consisting of two persons was set up with the sole task of looking into Mr. Pararajasingham's case; and has no doubt that the on-site mission will be able to gather detailed information in this respect;

  6. Is pleased that a draft bill on witness protection is under consideration, and can only hope that it will soon be adopted by Parliament and implemented;

  7. Is convinced that solving the murder of Mr. Pararajasingham is also essential to building such trust and confidence within Sri Lankan society as is indispensable to progress in a peace process;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 118th Assembly (Cape Town, April 2008), in the light of such information as will have been gathered during the mission.
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