TIC PRESS RELEASE
Date: 16 October 2012
TIC Condemns ‘Hate Campaign’ Against CPA Executive Director
We are deeply concerned about the appearance of Sinhala posters against Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in many parts of the Colombo city on 15 October 2012.
The intimidating poster campaign is linked to Dr Saravanamuttu’s legal challenge of the Divineguma Bill in the Supreme Court. The proposed law intends to create a new Divineguma Department that will consume the Samurdhi poverty alleviation programme and the Southern and Hill Country Development authorities. The Bill encroaches into the functions of the Provincial Councils. The Constitution provides that a Bill in respect of any matter included in the Provincial Council List must be submitted by the President to every Provincial Council for the expression of its views before it is tabled in Parliament.
The Bill also includes shady provisions and omits provisions relating to accountability. The Bill specifically provides that the Banking Act and the Finance Business Act would not apply to banks established under the Divineguma Act. This means that banks established under the Divineguma Act will not come under the rules and supervision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. These Divineguma banks will handle an estimated 80 billion rupees without supervision or accountability. The provision in the Samurdhi Act that the ‘Authority shall be deemed to be a scheduled institution within the meaning of the Bribery Act’ is not included in the Divineguma Bill.
In his capacity as Executive Director of the CPA, Dr Saravanamuttu petitioned the Supreme Court in the public interest and in accordance with the provisions of the Sri Lanka Constitution. In his petition, Dr Saravanamuttu pointed out that the Divineguma Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution and listed a number of substantive and procedural grounds. The Supreme Court determined that the Bill should be approved by each Provincial Council before it is brought to Parliament.
Dr Saravanamuttu has been subjected to a relentless campaign of intimidation and abuse by government supporters in the past for carrying out his duties in the public interest as a responsible citizen of Sri Lanka. We condemn the hate campaigns and threats of violence against advocates of democratic governance.
Hate campaigns have done nothing but poison the country and turn people against one another. By targeting people committed to human rights and peace, such campaigns can only stifle progress, divide the nation and push Sri Lanka further into the abyss of mayhem. Past experience has shown that this kind of prejudiced, intolerant and paranoid action can lead the dangerous levels. This virulent hate campaign must stop immediately. The Tamil Information Centre calls upon all persons and organizations with interest in Sri Lanka to condemn the hate campaign and take every appropriate and possible action to bring pressure and to ensure this is not repeated.