Ganesan Nimalaruban’s murder in July last year wasn’t an issue for or comprehensively covered in the mainstream media in Sri Lanka. Vikalpa covered the circumstances of his murder and funeral, and this content was translated into English and published onGroundviews. Responses to the stories on both sites included a former high ranking UN diplomat and senior civil servants who said they had tears in their eyes listening to and reading the lamentation of Nimalaruban’s mother at his funeral.
Contrast this with some of the comments made by Sri Lanka’s de facto Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, as reported in the media recently, when the Fundamental Rights case of Ganeshan Nimalaruban was taken before the Supreme Court.
“When the prison is under siege do you want the prisons commissioner have to read to them the Geneva Conventions?”
The AG submitted a confidential report to the Court and Counsel Petitioner requested a copy to be issued to him. CJ Peiris said “Why do you need this? The court is not a place to get documents for the petitioners. This is the way you all procure the evidence and then circulate to the entire world to tarnish the image of the country.”
“The executive submits confidential reports only for the eyes of judges particularly where national security issues are concerned.”
“Counsel, you are not concerned about the country, you are giving a wrong signal to likeminded people.”
Counsel for the petitioner referred to the injuries in the postmortem report establishing torture. The Chief Justice said, “We don’t send nursery children to quell a siege. You’ve got to expect injuries.”
As we noted in our story on Nimalaruban’s murder, which went viral on the web,
“If this is the first time you are reading the details of this story, seeing this video footage and photos and realising the full horror of what the government has tried to cover up, ask yourself whether this is a peace, three years after the end of war, we can really be proud of.”
A year after writing this, things have, incredibly, got worse. The comments by Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice over this case alone are a sobering reminder of the real state of Sri Lanka’s judicial independence and the Rule of Law.