Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, one of the Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has tendered his resignation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Dr. Nanayakkara's letter to the President informs that his resignation as a member of the HRCSL is effective immediately.
Just prior to his resignation, Dr. Nanayakkara had been among three Commissioners at HRCSL who signed a letter sent to President Wickremesinghe's Chief of Staff Sagala Rathnayake alleging that the HRCSL's Chairperson Rohini Marasinghe was acting in "gross violation" of the Human Rights Commission Act.
The letter, signed by HRCSL members Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, Ven. Kalupahane Piyarathane Thera and Nimal Karunasiri, claimed that they were "utterly embarrased and disgruntled over the arbitary and illegal acts committed by the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission over the past year."
The members claimed that the Chairperson had taken crucial decisions arbitarily without even informing the Commission. disregarding the Human Rights Act No. 21 of 1996. Even though the Act clearly mentions that the Commission shall consist of five members, the Chairperson is repeatedly stating that she has the sole executive power to take any decision, the letter alleges.
They also claim that the Chairperson had changed the general practice of conducting meetings of the Commission every other week and had decided to conduct meetings once a month. However, she had postponed the meeting of the Commission indefinitely and as such, the Commission's meeting for the month of May has still not been held, the members alleged.
The letter further accuses the Chairperson of taking an arbitary decision to seal the HRCSL's Kandy office, disregarding the views of the other Commissioners. This is a "callous and disgraceful action that may tarnish the image of the Human Rights Commission and the confidence of the general public toward the Commission," the Commissioners insist.
Given this situation, the Commissioners have asked the President's Chief of Staff to arrange a meeting with the President or to make possible steps to appoint new Members and a Chairperson to the HRCSL.