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Resolution adopted by consensus by the IPU Governing Council at its 179th session
(Geneva, 18 October 2006)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, assassinated on 24 December 2005, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/179/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 178th session (May 2006),

Taking account of the information note by the Government of Sri Lanka forwarded on 12 October 2006 by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations at Geneva; noting also that the case of Mr. Pararajasingham has been taken up by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights, chaired by the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, and that it has set up a special subcommittee that has identified this case as a priority matter,

Recalling that Mr. Pararajasingham, a prominent member of parliament belonging to the Tamil National Alliance, was shot dead on 24 December 2005 during the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Mary's Church in Batticaloa,

Considering the following details as provided by the Government:

  • Investigations started immediately after the shooting incident and revealed that Mr. Pararajasingham and his wife had travelled to Batticaloa early on 24 December with two personal security officers provided by Batticaloa police; only Mrs. Pararajasingham and the personal security officer of Mr. Pararajasingham were privy to Mr. Pararajasingham's decision to attend the Christmas Eve Mass and the security officer was informed thereof only after they arrived in Batticaloa that morning;

  • In the course of the investigation, the priest who was playing the organ made a statement to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the effect that he could identify one of the assailants of whom he also gave descriptions; no one else gave the investigators any particulars of the assailants;

  • Inquiries revealed that the two assailants had used two handguns and six empty casings of 9mm ammunition were found at the scene; they were sent, through courts, to the Government Analysts to ascertain supportive material, if any, in the identification of the group responsible for the assassination;

  • In July 2006, the police took into custody two individuals suspected of involvement in the assassination; an identification parade was held on 16 August 2006 but witnesses failed to make a positive identification and the persons were released for lack of evidence;

  • The terrain where the murder occurred was at one time dominated by the Karuna Faction, a breakaway group of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and there has been fighting to gain dominance of this area; this has led to a situation where there is less public cooperation for fear of reprisals; in the absence of public support revealing material of evidential value, the CID has reached deadlock in the investigation, which is nevertheless continuing; the Batticaloa Magistrates Court will call the case on 3 November 2006,
Recalling the following information provided by the sources: St. Mary's Church is located in a high-security zone between two military checkpoints and at the time of the murder, additional security forces were on duty, the church was reportedly surrounded by military personnel, which means that the culprits could only have escaped with the complicity of the security forces; soon after the murder, Mr. Pararajasingham's family and TNA parliamentarians gave President Rajapaksa the names of three suspects, but no action has been taken against them; two of the names are (i) Kaluthavalai Ravi and (ii) Kalai; one of the sources reported in August 2006 that it was public knowledge that Ravi, a member of the Karuna group, was one of the assailants; the Karuna group is reportedly cooperating with the military forces and its members enjoy their protection,

Noting, as to the meaning of "high-security zone", that the authorities have stated that it refers to a zone demarcated by the Government where additional security measures are enforced where security-sensitive establishment are located within such areas; in the past, the LTTE has sometimes been able to commit acts, such as the assassination of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, in high-security zones,

Bearing in mind finally that President Rajapaksa has decided to set up a national commission of inquiry to look into cases of grave human rights violations, including the case of Mr. Pararajasingham, and that the IPU has been invited to suggest names for inclusion in a group of eminent persons to be set up to act as observers of the work of the national inquiry commission,

  1. Remains deeply shocked at the murder of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, and concerned at the lack of progress in the investigation;

  2. Commends the President of Sri Lanka for the measures he envisages to combat impunity, and believes that a national commission of inquiry can indeed make an essential contribution to this end and shed light on Mr. Pararajasingham's murder, provided that its terms of reference are such as will enable it to work independently and impartially and to be recognized as independent by all parties, and that it is provided with the necessary financial and other means;

  3. Also thanks the Minister of Disaster Managements and Human Rights for his cooperation in this case and the special attention that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights is giving to it;

  4. Affirms that the authorities nevertheless have a duty vigorously to pursue the investigation and explore all existing leads - including involvement of the security forces - that may permit the identification of the perpetrators; and trusts that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights will closely follow it and ensure that it is provided with any additional means or support it may require to make progress;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to inform the authorities accordingly and to take any such steps as may contribute to assisting the authorities in their efforts to shed light on Mr. Pararajasingham's murder;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 116th Assembly (April-May 2007).
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