Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has called on the Presidential Secretariat to publicly disclose all relevant documents in the case of the presidential pardon afforded to the convict in the case of the Mirusuvil Massacre of December 2000.
TISL states that failure to do so could result in irreparable damage to the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary especially given that the conviction and sentencing, in this case, was upheld by a 5 member bench of the Supreme Court comprised of Justices Buvaneka Aluvihare, Nalin Perera, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Murdhu Fernando in April 2019.
TISL issuing a statement said, Article 34 of the constitution empowers the President to grant pardons to any offenders.
However the same article adds the caveat that “where any offender shall have been condemned to suffer death by the sentence of any court, the President shall cause a report to be made to him by the Judge who tried the case and shall forward such report to the Attorney-General.
It should include with instructions that after the Attorney-General has advised thereon, the report shall be sent together with the Attorney-General’s advice to the Minister in charge of the subject of Justice, who shall forward the report with his recommendation to the President”.
Furthermore, regulation 20/1/iv, promulgated by Gazette No. 2004/66 under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in February 2017 also requires all public authorities to proactively disclose “decisions and formal acts, particularly those that directly affect the public including the data and documents used as the basis for these decisions and acts”.
TISL believes that the pardoning of individuals convicted for murder, and the documents underpinning these pardons, qualify as matters that directly affect the public, TISL said.
TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “in two instances in the recent past, we have witnessed the powers of presidential pardon being exercised without the disclosure of the information to substantiate these pardons.