Fresh Questionnaire To Aussie War Crimes NGO – Answers Vague And Ambiguous

Public Interested Advocacy Centre (PIAC) , an NGO based in Australia who did a study on war crimes allegation against armed forces of Sri Lanka has indicated to ‘Asian Mirror’ that it is not willing to disclose the manner in which they conducted the study, giving rise to the speculation that the entire ‘process’ has some serious loopholes.

Despite PIAC’s stolid silence over the two initial questions we posed a few days ago, ‘Asia Mirror’ yesterday sent another questionnaire to Gamma Pearce, Spokesperson of PIAC. The questionnaire we sent to the PIAC spokesperson included 10 questions over the methodology and mechanism of the study.

1. Can you explain the 'quantity' of your study? ( total number of interviewees, time frame, total cost of the study  etc )

2.  Whom did you identify as the stakeholders of your study?

3. What was the manner in which you gathered evidence?

4. How many eye witness accounts did you take into consideration?

5. At any point of your study, did you  contact the Sri Lankan Army and get their version of the story?

6. Did you contact the government of Sri Lanka as part of your study?

7. How did you check the veracity of the information you gathered?

8. Did you check your information with multiple sources?

9. Did you conduct the study in collaboration with some party based in Sri Lanka?

10. How did you communicate with the people on the ground who were truly affected by war?

In response to our query, Gamma Pearce directed us to the ‘fact sheet’ available on their website saying “it should help to answer your questions.”

The fact sheet contains only two paragraphs on the methodology of the study and offers answers to none of the questions we posted! The “fact sheet” says,

“ICEP has collected and analysed information from a range of sources including: witness accounts; photographs and videos; satellite imagery and analysis; confidential correspondence; UN and non-government organisation reports; and other open-source material.

ICEP has undertaken a rigorous legal analysis of the evidentiary material. That evidentiary material is made up of new witness testimony, as well as existing information that had not previously been subject to  in-depth factual and legal scrutiny. On the basis of ICEP’s factual and legal analysis of the evidentiary material, it is likely that international crimes were committed in the period under investigation. This highlights the need for a full, independent international inquiry on these issues.”

The fact sheet is silent on the “How factor” of the study and the PIAC Spokesman is not willing to share any information with regard to specific ways they conducted the study.

Pearce’s “fact sheet” paints nothing but a vague and ambiguous picture about the entire study. It is indicative of the fact that the study has not been done in line with basic principles of research ethics.  Plus, the ‘PIAC’ is not open to media queries, underscoring the the notion that it is an institution that is not capable of handling questions posed by media.

This seriously jeopardizes the credibility and accuracy of the report presented by the ‘PIAC’ with regard to alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the final phase of war.

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