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Dayasri flays govt. over delay in activating seven Commissions envisaged by 18A

Dayasri flays govt. over delay in activating seven Commissions envisaged by 18A

2011 Feb 08

Prominent lawyer Gomin Dayasri says the government should be ashamed that it hasn’t constituted independent commissions in spite of having introduced the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on Sept. 7 last year.

In a brief interview with The Island, Dayasri, one of the professionals, who threw their weight behind the Amendment, said that people had a right to know why the commissions had not been appointed since the enactment of the 18th Amendment.

Dayasri said that he had strongly supported the 18th Amendment before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) a few months ago as he felt the proposed commissions could help bring about positive changes in key sectors. Unfortunately the government had been dragging its feet on the constitutions of the Commissions for reasons best known to the powers that be, he said, alleging the UPFA seemed blind to the ground reality.

Responding to a query, he said that the LLRC and the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) headed by the Attorney General, which had been tasked with the implementation of LLRC’s interim recommendations, too, should be concerned about the inordinate delay in setting up the independent commissions, particularly the one on Human Rights.

Dayasri, who has represented government security forces at various fora said that nothing could be as important as activating the Human Rights Commission in the wake of growing attacks on Sri Lanka on the human rights front. He expressed surprise that those who had vehemently opposed the 18th Amendment weren’t attacking the President and his government over the undue delay in the setting up the vital commissions.

Dayasri lashed out at the government for not setting up the Election Commission before the local government elections.

He said that the seven commissions were: the Public Service Commission, the Election Commission, the Police Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Bribery Commission, the Finance Commission and the Delimitation Commission.

There couldn’t be any plausible reason for putting off the setting up of commissions, as the 18th Amendment could be implemented without a referendum because it didn’t propose structural changes to the 1978 Constitution, Dayasri pointed out.

The outspoken lawyer attacked the government for its failure to set up the Bribery Commission in spite of influential sections in the public and private sectors making money at the expense of the national economy. There should be a mechanism to investigate corruption at all levels to counter threats posed by public-private partnership in corruption, which could be a threat as menacing as terrorism. Dayasri said that existing mechanisms (COPE & PAC) weren’t sufficient at all.

The powers to propose members to seven commissions was vested with the President, he said.

Dayasiri stressed the importance of the President appointing those who could earn the respect of the public as well as government and Opposition ranks. He warned that it would be a big mistake to pack the commissions with those close to the ruling party.

Dismissing the 17th Amendment, which placed the responsibility of key appointments on a group of people with no one being directly responsible, Dayasri said that in the case of the 18th Amendment, it would be the President’s responsibility and his responsibility alone to propose those who could make a difference in the public sector in the post-war era.

Dayasiri said that the Opposition should raise the government’s delay in appointing the seven commissions, particularly bribery, at the forthcoming election as corruption remained a major issue, which had contributed to the sorry state of local government bodies. Although Sri Lanka had defeated LTTE terrorism, the people hadn’t been able to enjoy peace the way they should be able to for want of a cohesive strategy to tackle corruption at every level of government and in the private sector, he said.

Dayasri acknowledged that in a way the public couldn’t expect those in power to go all out against corruption, thereby denying themselves their sources of revenue.

He said that due to the delay in appointing commissions the public would tend to believe the whole purpose of replacing the 17th Amendment with the 18th Amendment was to do away with two-time limit for one individual to hold presidency. He recalled how a group of Opposition members had switched their allegiance to the UPFA to ensure the passage of the 18th Amendment before receiving perks and privileges in return.

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