Former Pakistani Law Minister, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a member of the International Panel of Advisers, appointed to the Presidential Commission, probing complaints on Missing Persons, told Ceylon Today that the Commission’s mandate allows him to give, ‘limited’ legal advice to their report. And that too “as and when” the Commission wants their advice and nothing beyond that. “It’s the choice of my client and it is limited to certain areas, such as whether some of the evidence should be analyzed under International Human Rights Law or under International Humanitarian Law. My service is only needed in those areas.”
“My client, that is the Presidential Commission, only wants my legal expertise on those areas and that is what I would provide. I have no right to intervene in the Commission’s probing or visiting the areas concerned or meeting the victims’ families,” Soofi, an expert on International Humanitarian Law, said.
He said that he has no idea how long his service may be wanted by the Commission. “I have no idea. So far, I have not been notified of how long my service is required, but according to the Gazette Notification, it’s till the full report is finalized, or ready, they may require my expertise, but I have not been told. The Commission has to keep me informed on how long they would need my assistance,” he said.
“It’s limited advice and its all on the legal aspect and implementation of the full report he stressed.
“Unlike my Indian counterpart Avdhash Kaushal, who is a human rights activist, I am an expert on International Humanitarian Law. My understanding is that the client’s approach is what I have to serve and I cannot press my duties beyond that or have my inputs or thoughts into it. That is not part of my deal,” he added.
When Ceylon Today contacted Commissioner of Missing Persons Dr. Maxwell Paranagama, he said, “Sometimes you need an expert’s opinion on whether the victim’s case comes under International Humanitarian Law or International Human Rights Law. as a war is fought between two countries, this is the usual step, but in the case of Sri Lanka it’s a non-government group fighting against government forces, it applies to a tribunal. These aspects need to be clarified and Soofi’s expertise in this field will be needed ‘as and when’ wanted.” Paranagama said that he is not permitted to give any other advice or inputs to the final report on missing persons. (Ceylon Today)