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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 188th session
(Panama, 20 April 2011)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham of Sri Lanka, assassinated on 24 December 2005, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/188/13(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 187th session (October 2010); referring also to the report on the on-site mission to Sri Lanka carried out by the Committee in February 2008 (CL/183/12(b)-R.2),

Taking into account the information which Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka for Human Rights, provided to the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians at the hearing held during the 124th IPU Assembly,

Recalling the following information provided in the past by the authorities, who have repeatedly stated that they were committed to fully elucidating this crime, about the murder investigation:

  • Mr. Pararajasingham, a member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was shot dead on 24 December 2005 during the Christmas Eve mass at St. Mary's Church in Batticaloa by unidentified gunmen in the presence of some 300 persons; his wife and seven other persons sustained gunshot injuries; St. Mary's Church was located in a high-security zone between two military checkpoints; at the time of the murder, additional security forces were on duty, which suggests that the culprits could have escaped only with the complicity of the security forces;

  • According to the information provided by Minister Samarasinghe in October 2009, one of the main problems was the question of witnesses as the priest playing the organ had been unable to identify any suspects, and witnesses were afraid to come forward; he said that a witness protection bill, providing inter alia for video-conferencing of witnesses living abroad, was pending at the time before parliament; the police had been unable to establish whether the information provided on the occasion of the on-site mission was bona fide, suggesting that a certain “Ravi” (Kaluthavalai or Kommathurai Ravi) was the killer, since TNA parliamentarians who had provided the name were unable to give an address; according to the sources, Ravi was a member of the Karuna group and well known in the region;

  • Six empty 9mm cartridges found at the crime scene were sent to the Government analyst; two army-type uniforms were recovered from locations in the church and two soldiers who had been roaming around during the night of 24/25 December 2005 were taken into custody but later released as the main eyewitness was unable to identify them at an identification parade held on 1 September 2006,
Considering the following additional information which Minister Samarasinghe provided at the hearing held during the 124th Assembly: police inquiries to trace Kaluthavalai or Kommathurai Ravi proved unavailing because Ravi is a common name used by Tamils and Kaluthavalai and Kommathurai are names of villages; since these names are common in these villages, it is difficult to trace them with these names alone; given the absence in particular of eyewitness evidence, the investigation (Magistrate Court Batticaloa CASE N° B. 1357/05) has been laid by with the provision to reopen it if and when fresh material is received,

Considering that, as regards the issue of the adoption of a Witness Protection Bill, Minister Samarasinghe reported that the Bill, debated in Parliament in 2008, was not passed because the Opposition had insisted that it should not be taken up at that point, for which reason the debate was adjourned; that shortly afterwards the Parliament was dissolved and the Bill therefore lapsed so that party leaders would have to discuss the matter anew; noting in this respect that the 2007 Witness Protection Bill was criticized by many, in particular by human rights groups, as inadequate to the task of providing victims and witnesses with the requisite protection,

  1. Thanks the authorities and, in particular, Minister Samarasinghe for the consistent cooperation extended to the Committee and for the information provided;

  2. Remains deeply disappointed that six years after this high-profile murder took place in circumstances which, one would think, should have made it easier for investigators to identify the perpetrators and instigators, the investigation has been unavailing to the point that it has now been suspended;

  3. Notes, however, the stated commitment of the authorities to continuing the investigation of this crime, which, it believes, would nevertheless imply that the investigatory authorities do not wait for fresh evidence to be brought to their attention, but that they continue actively to seek such evidence;

  4. Is convinced that effective legislation to protect victims and witnesses, corresponding to international witness protection standards, is crucial as it would encourage eyewitnesses of this crime to come forward and testify; urges therefore the Government and the Parliament to resume the debate on the Witness and Victim Protection Bill, amending it as necessary, and to promote its passage and adoption as quickly as possible;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to inform the authorities and the sources accordingly;

  6. Requests the Committee to seek, to the extent possible, more information from the sources on “Ravi”, and to report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 125th IPU Assembly (October 2011).
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