Rajapaksa Govt Spends Rs. 400 Million For "International Experts" On Human Rights

February 15, 2015

 

It has now come to the limelight that former President Rajapaksa's government paid a staggering Rs. 400 million to international advisors who helped the government on human right matters in the recent past.

The Sunday Times political column today disclosed a detailed account of monstrous amounts of money that have been paid to "international experts" by the previous government.

The international experts include Sir Desmond de Silva, QC Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, Rodney Dickson, QC, all three from the UK and David M. Crane from the United States, who advised the Commission to Probe Missing Persons.

Following are excerpts from the Sunday Times political column;

"For just seven months — from July 7, 2014 to February 7, 2015 — a staggering amount of more than Rs. 135 million has been paid out to them as well as others who were connected with this exercise, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Times. These payments, as well as others revealed today, have been made directly by the Central Bank without approval from the Cabinet of Ministers. These experts, together with others named later, have been in Sri Lanka only on three different occasions, according to Maxwell Paranagama, Chairman of the Commission. He told the Sunday Times that he had met only these four Advisors, and that too in Colombo. “They did not take part in the Commission sittings,” he said.

On their own, they had travelled to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, he added. He said the Commission’s term has been extended till August 15 this year. Their next sittings will be in Trincomalee on March 29. The travel to these two districts, according to documents available with the Sunday Times involved an expenditure of Rs. 598,686 for “meals and accommodation.” The travel took place on just two days, December 8 and 9 last year.

Sir Desmond de Silva, QC received GBP 357,336, equivalent to over Rs. 79 million or exactly Rs 79,154,691.13. The other payments for the seven month period are:
Rodney Dixon, QC Sterling Pounds 27,000 or Rs. 5,727,522.84
David M. Crane – US$ 60,000 or Rs 7,814,261.50.

In addition to the above, during the foursome’s visit US$ 22,500 (or Rs. 982,537.50) was spent as “Foreign Currency Expenses.” A further Rs 4,418,214.73 was spent as “Local Currency Expenses.” Other payments:

P.P. Mylvaganam who was not on the Advisory team was paid Sterling Pounds 100,000 or Rs. 20,705,542, Major General J.T. Holmes Sterling Pounds 21,500 or Rs 4,332,910.50, Michael A. Newton US$ 5,000 or Rs 651,730.50. The latter is an expert in accountability, transnational justice and conduct of hostilities issues. The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, a local outfit, was paid Rs. 3,735,000. This consortium is headed by NGO wallah Jeevan Thiagarajah. Petty cash to the office has been listed as Rs. 124,285.95.
That is not all. Payments made after the seven month period ended are also colossal. Here are the details of further payments up to February 12 this year:
Sir Desmond de Silva, QC – Sterling Pounds 407,336.00 or Rs. 85,550,666.37. Thus he has been paid a total of exactly Sterling Pounds 764,672 or over Rs. 164 million (or precisely Rs. 164,705,357.50) so far.

Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Lady Nice – Sterling Pounds 86,358 or Rs. 18,060,558.98. Thus, he has been paid a total of Sterling Pounds 122,358 or Rs. 25,697,251.08 so far.
David M. Crane – US$ 67,500 or Rs 8,796,799. Thus, he has been paid a total of US$ 127,500 or Rs. 16,611,060.50.

The payments revealed today appear to be only a fraction of what has been found out so far. The fuller magnitude of the expenditure, which would have been enough to build houses for hundreds, instal electricity schemes for villages, provide medical assistance to the North, or to build and equip a few schools, will unfold only when investigations now under way are complete. Even the few disclosures today raise a number of important questions. The role of foreign advisers and eminent persons, in their own way, remains an important question. Since they did not sit at the sessions of the Disappearances Commission, and visited the one time battle areas on their own, were they involved in a process of formulating their own report to counter the one due at the UN Human Rights Council next month?"

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