The Justice Vijith Malalgoda fact finding committee, appointed by the President following the 21/04 suicide bombings, had recommended that the country’s intelligence services be brought under a legal mandate that would empower and govern the intelligence agencies. It is a welcome recommendation that must be acted upon forthwith. That would help prevent the recurrence of similar terrorist attacks in the country.
Presently the only provision of law empowering intelligence gathering is section 56 (e) of the archaic Police Ordinance of 1865, which states that, it shall be the duty of every police officer “to collect and communicate intelligence affecting the public peace”. There is an obvious need to holistically institutionalise intelligence gathering under a well anchored professional body within a statutory framework that will facilitate its effective functioning under an independent leadership accountable to parliament and the judiciary. The authority must have special powers and credible status with restraints that will prevent the abuse of the authority for collateral purposes, as revealed negatively in the course of
Intelligence gathering is the initial part of investigations. A robust investigation will reveal whether the ‘intelligence’ or the ‘information’ gathered is fact or fiction. Police investigations are an accountable process, particularly to the judiciary under the Code of Criminal Procedure Act and other laws. Police officers are public servants who have subscribed to the country’s constitution and have taken oaths of office. Often they have to give evidence and are subject to cross examination.
But soon after the 21/04 suicide bombings the government permitted, without any legal authority to do so, foreign intelligence agents and so-called experts to directly inter-meddle in the investigations. Thereby the credibility of investigations, having to be independent and accountable as mandated under our law, has been tainted. It can be proven that some of these foreign bodies have agendas of their own. A tainted investigation will adversely affect a fair trial-stage judicial process. None of those foreign busy bodies are accountable under our laws. They will not give evidence nor will they allow themselves to be cross examined. Acts of inter-meddling by foreigners are interferences in the judicial process that will affect adversely the standards of fairness required at the trial stages.
"Foreign interferences are going on under cover of ‘expert’ assistance, by countries which have never solved terrorism"
Foreign interferences are going on under cover of ‘expert’ assistance, by countries which have never solved terrorism in any of the countries into which they had wriggled themselves. Some of these countries have wantonly multiplied the radicalization process, created internal conflicts by peppering conflicting extremists, boosted their sales of weapons and left those countries after ruining them. They have their own agenda. According to Archbishop His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, these arms manufacturing countries want markets for their weapons, explosives and security equipment. John Perkins’ 2005 book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ gives graphic details of how they terrorise the world into submission to the project agenda. There are also those who reject the truth as ‘conspiracy theories’.
The proposed Counter Terrorism Law has a dangerous clause that would legally permit foreign investigation agencies to jointly investigate terrorism related offences with the Sri Lankan police. If enacted it will be the first step towards justifying foreign judges to hear cases here. With our traditional servile mentality to anything Western, joint investigations will lead to foreigners deciding the course of our criminal courts. This would also allow unaccountable foreigners coming from countries branded with anti- black and anti-Muslim state policies to wantonly manoeuvre the due judicial process in this country. We cannot be unmindful of recent developments in a large number of Western countries where right wing extremism labeled populism dictates their judicial process. These countries have begun to drift away from well-established international human rights standards. They could soon become dangerous role models!
"Proposed Counter Terrorism Law has a dangerous clause that legally permits foreign investigation agencies to jointly probe terrorism related offences with Sri Lankan police"
Of course intelligence gathering involves the receipt of foreign intelligence inputs. Some of them are exceptionally accurate as in the case of 21/04, giving the impression that foreign intelligence agencies may be closely involved with the potential terrorists. Will the Sri Lankan authorities dare to investigate the source? Will they ever investigate to what extent foreign intelligence agencies have got embedded with prospective terrorists?
But several are the cases where fake terror threats were planted such as the US State Department reporting to India, according to Wiki Leaks, on June 19, 2009, within a month of the LTTE’s defeat, that Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) had established a facilitation center in Sri Lanka! Again on August 22, 2013 Indian intelligence leaked a story to the media that intelligence had been received that LeT had set up a center in Jaffna and were preparing for an attack on South India from Jaffna. Both reports turned out to be totally fake! There are many more such fake intelligence reports.They cried wolf until 21/04 when the boys here, probably never believed the Indian input. This could also be the handy work of external elements through known radicals in their possible pay roll.
A war between our two nuclear armed neighbours is big business for arms manufacturers. Fake news attributed to unaccountable intelligence sources play a terrorising role when security related seminars are around the corner. Any racial or religious conflict, now a common factor in India is welcome news for the arms industry. Over a thousand factories in the Western capitals alone daily roll out machines and explosives that kill the innocents by the thousands. It is in this context that we need to ensure that the report of the fact finding committee is officially released by the government and urgently followed up.
The writer can be reached at: mm_zuhair @yahoo.com