Blacklisted terrorists and terror orgs: Large number de-listed – Fmr Defence Secy
By Faadhila Thassim
A large number of individuals and organisations, gazetted as terrorists in 2014, have been removed from the 2015 Gazette, including two terrorists whose names were removed due to the influence of former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United National Front (UNF)-led Government, Mangala Samaraweera, said former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, B.M.U.D. Basnayake.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) appointed to probe political victimisation of public officials during the tenure of the UNF-led Government, yesterday (16), Basnayake said Samaraweera, having called then Chief of National Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Shammi Kumararatna, had ordered him to remove two LTTE members blacklisted in 2014 (Suren Surendiran and
Fr. Emmanuel) stating that they were his close associates.
He added that blacklisting individuals and organisations as terrorists is of great importance to national security and had taken place within the legal framework established to comply with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 adopted by Sri Lanka.
Basnayake further noted that in the event a name has to be removed from the list of the previous year, there has to be strong evidence of the need for such a removal and that it could not be done under any influence. “Although Kumararatna informed me of such an order made by Samaraweera, I did not do so as there was insufficient evidence to support the removal of these names,’’ he added.
Further, the final document containing the blacklisted names that have to be gazetted could only be approved by the Minister of Foreign Affairs but on the suggestions of the National Security Council and the Ministry of Defence and the document is drafted following a stringent procedure.
He said that the document of the blacklisted terrorists for 2015 was gazetted a month after he vacated as Secretary following which Karunasena Hettiarachchi was appointed. Although the number of individuals gazetted as blacklisted terrorists was 424 in 2014, the number dropped to 155 in 2015 while the number of organisations blacklisted in 2014, which was 16, dropped to six in 2015.
‘’Such a drastic drop in the number of blacklisted terrorists a month after I vacated is problematic and a threat to national security,’’ he added.
Basnayake appeared before the PCoI with regard to a complaint lodged by Kumararatna.
The PCoI thereby issued notice to the former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence who was appointed after Basnayake to testify before the Commission tomorrow (18).