Following the arrests of former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Pujith Jayasundera over the April 21 bomb blasts, the National Peace Council (NPC) said that the Easter Sunday bomb blasts were a result of a systemic failure rather than the failure of individual Public Service Officials in key positions.
In a media statement it said that senior public officials did not need prior permission to take pro-active decisions and pre-emptive actions about issues that fall under their statutory duties.
“However, from the evidence that is available, there appears to have been a systemic failure that went beyond the two individuals who have been charged,” the NPC said.
Both Mr Fernando, and Jayasundera have been released on bail on Tuesday, July 9.
In the midst of the ongoing sittings of the Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the Easter Sunday bombings, two senior officials in the public service have been arrested by the Police.
The charges against former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of PolicePujith Jayasundera are that they did not take sufficient action to prevent the bombings that led to over 250 deaths and injuries to over 500 persons despite having prior information.
Senior public officials do not need prior permission to take pro-active decisions and pre-emptive actions about issues that fall under their statutory duties.
However, from the evidence that is available, there appears to have been a systemic failure that went beyond the two individuals who have been charged.
This includes the exclusion of the Prime Minister, Deputy Defence Minister and Police Chief from the National Security Council meetings after the abortive attempt at a constitutional overthrow of the elected government and the failure to hold meetings of the National Security Council in the period leading to the bombings.
It is possible that persons higher in the chain of command may also be held accountable
In these circumstances, the pinning of blame for the failure to stop the Easter Sunday bombings on former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara feels unfair. We believe that it will be useful to apply Systems Thinking which can help us see that what may seem an isolated problem is actually part of an interconnected network of related issues. Ignoring this interconnectedness will lead to many unintended negative consequences for Sri Lanka in the short and long term. Quick fixes do not help in the long term.
The National Peace Council calls on the government to come up with a comprehensive report speedily on the factors that lie behind the Easter Sunday bomb attacks and to identify the loopholes in the national security system prior to deciding on which individuals to target to punish. It is possible that persons higher in the chain of command may also be held accountable. In particular, we call on the President, Prime Minister and Opposition leader to put political motivations aside and to jointly formulate an accountability process that will punish the guilty and rectify the systemic shortcomings that led to the tragedy of Easter Sunday.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non-partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.