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Nepotism rampant in Rajapaksa government

world Updated: Apr 10, 2011 19:03 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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The annual US state department report has come down heavily on the Sri Lankan government for being dominated by the Rajapaksa brothers and for a problematic human rights record.

The report added that both the last Presidential and Parliamentary elections were fraught with violations.

"The government is dominated by the President’s (Mahinda Rajapaksa) family; two of the President’s brothers hold key executive branch posts as defence secretary and the minister of economic development, while a third brother is the speaker of Parliament," the report said.

"Independent observers generally characterized the presidential and parliamentary elections as problematic. Both elections were fraught with violations of the election law by all major parties and were influenced by the governing coalition’s massive use of state resources," the report said, adding that there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of the civilian government.

There was no immediate reaction from either Rajapaksa’s office or the ministry of external affairs.

The report criticised the government’s human rights record in the post-war era, though adding that disappearances had gone down. "The government and its agents continued to be responsible for serious human rights problems. Security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, although the number of extrajudicial killings declined. Disappearances continued to be a problem, although the total also declined. Many independent observers cited a continued climate of fear among minority populations, in large part based on past incidents," the state department report said.

Official impunity remains a problem too, according to the report. "There were no public indications or reports that civilian or military courts convicted any military or police members for human rights abuses. The government established a post-war Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Denial of fair public trial remained a problem; the judiciary was subject to executive influence; and the government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights."

The report said that there has been no progress in investigations into the killing of Sunday Leader editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga and the disappearance of LankaeNews journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.

Wickrematunga was shot dead in Colombo on 8 January 2009, Eknaligoda is missing since he left office on 24 January, 2010. “Witnesses reported similarities in the manner in which this attack was carried out and the January 2009 attack on MTV/MBC studios, and some local groups suspected ministry of defense personnel were behind the attack,” it said.