“International Investigators Can Contact Witnesses Without The Support Of SL Govt”

Asma Jahangir, Pakistani lawyer who has been appointed to the experts’ panel on Sri Lanka by UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, has stated that international investigators can contact witnesses in Sri Lanka with or without the support of the Sri Lankan government.

"It will be a very difficult task for any government to stop people from contacting investigators," she said, in an interview with the BBC Tamil service.

“People will always find a way to collaborate with such inquiries," she said during the interview.

“There have been international inquiries earlier also where governments have not cooperated. Those inquiries did not end with that. People will always find a way to collaborate with such inquiries. It will be a very difficult task for any government to stop people from contacting investigators. If the government thinks of attempting to arbitrarily prevent people it will only be detrimental to the government. At the same time, as this inquiry looks at violations committed by ‘all parties’ this inquiry is important for the government side too,” Jahangir, former President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association and of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told the BBC Tamil service.

Speaking on the necessity of contacting people on the ground, Jahangir said, “we always talk to victims. That is absolutely essential. We will also speak to the persons who took the decisions during relevant times and try to understand their point of view. Some may not like to speak to us, but there will also be those who will be able to speak to us. From our experience sometimes some will get into contact with in secret. We will need to protect their confidentiality. If we are allowed to travel to Sri Lanka we will speak to the police. Also we will speak to a majority of the civil society including NGOs, media, etc.”

 

Asma Jahangir, has spent her career defending the human and women rights, rights of religious minorities and children in Pakistan. (with inputs from Tamil Guardian) 

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