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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 190th session
(Kampala, 5 April 2012)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka assassinated on 24 December 2005, and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 2011); referring also to the report of 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 that 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 126th IPU Assembly (April 2012),

Recalling the following information on file:

  • 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 people; his wife and seven other people sustained gunshot injuries; St. Mary's Church is 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,
Recalling that Minister Samarasinghe had reported on a previous occasion that the Witness Protection Bill debated in Parliament in 2008 had not been passed and had subsequently lapsed owing to the dissolution of parliament, so that party leaders would have to discuss the matter anew; also recalling that the Bill had been criticized by many, in particular by human rights groups, as providing victims and witnesses with inadequate protection; considering that Minister Samarasinghe, on the occasion of the hearing at the 126th IPU Assembly, stated that the Government was ready to present the new Witness Protection Bill but that the opposition had requested more time to study it; once the political party leaders were in agreement the Bill would be tabled for discussion in Parliament,

Considering that Minister Samarasinghe, on the occasion of the hearing at the 126th IPU Assembly, reiterated that the investigation into Mr. Pararajasingham’s murder had been laid by and could be reactivated if and when fresh material was received,

  1. Thanks Minister Samarasinghe for his cooperation;

  2. Remains deeply disturbed that, in the more than six years since Mr. Pararajasingham’s murder, the authorities have made no progress whatsoever in identifying and holding to account the culprits of this high-profile murder, particularly since there is serious reason to believe that, because of where the murder took place, it was perpetrated with the complicity of security and army personnel;

  3. Remains deeply concerned that the inconclusiveness of the investigation may be due to the absence of eyewitness testimony, which can only mean that, given the circumstances of the crime, witnesses are still afraid to assist with the investigation;

  4. Regrets, therefore, that an effective witness protection programme, a basic but essential step in the fight against impunity, is still lacking; reaffirms its belief that such a programme will only be effective if it offers clear and effective security allowing victims and witnesses to come forward without fear of reprisal; sincerely hopes that the Bill establishing such a programme will indeed soon be presented to Parliament; wishes to receive a copy thereof as soon as it is available and to be kept informed of any other developments in this regard;

  5. Calls on the investigative authorities simultaneously and actively to seek fresh evidence, instead of waiting for such evidence to be brought to their attention; recalls that Parliament, in the exercise of its oversight function, is entitled to help ensure that an investigation is carried out, especially when it concerns a member; wishes, therefore, to ascertain the views of Parliament on taking such an initiative;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities and the source;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 127th IPU Assembly (October 2012).
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