Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Kodagoda to head Sri Lanka's appeals court despite complicity in impunity

Sri Lanka's President's Counsel, Yasantha Kodagoda is to be appointed as President of the Court of Appeal despite years of criticism of his active efforts to delay and deny justice for serious crimes. 

Kodagoda was widely reported to have been responsible for ensuring that thousands of cases referred by the All Island Commission on Disappearances between 1998 and 2000, as well as the Udalagama Commission of Inquiry between 2007 - 2008 were never investigated. 

Kodagoda was accused of aggressively cross examining witnesses in the Udalagama Commission, with the intention of protecting agents of the state, as well as attempting to undermine evidence of state complicity in the killing of ACF aid workers in 2007. 

In a damning letter written by the Asian Human Rights Commission in 2016, the Commission noted

"Kodagoda’s role before the Udalagama Commission of Inquiry is well known given that Mr. Kodagoda was specifically and negatively named by members of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) monitoring that Commission. Mr. Kodagoda was the Lead Counsel for the Attorney General at the Commission even though the Commission was inquiring into actions of state officers in regard to failure to properly investigate and prosecute certain cases of gross human rights abuses in regard to which he had been himself involved at the preliminary stage of advising on the investigations. This represented a clear conflict of interest."

"In addition, while the role of the Attorney General’s Department’s officers was to assist the Commission, Mr. Kodagoda aggressively cross examined the witnesses who came before the Commission, in a vigorous attempt to protect state agents against whom these witnesses were giving evidence."

"We are also aware that, regarding the detention of Tamil prisoners at Boosa camp, he prevented discussions on the arrest and detention of Tamil prisoners without grounds for reasonable suspicion."

Currently serving as Deputy Head of the Criminal Division of the Attorney-General’s Department, Kodagoda is responsible for all investigations and prosecutions involving Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is widely known for its routine use of torture and enforced disappearances. 

Investigations include key cases of abduction and presumed murder, which despite years passing are yet to be resolved such as the disappearance of Keith Noyahr, the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda.