The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka asked that “the attorney general be given full power and the freedom to prosecute the perpetrators immediately.”
“We are all waiting for the immediate and transparent process of justice which is to be carried out with a sense of urgency. In the name of truth and justice and for the sake of peace and security of all people in our dear country,” said Bishop Winston Fernando of Badulla, head of the conference, in a statement.
Nine suicide bombers attacked two Catholic churches, one evangelical Christian church, four hotels, and a housing complex April 21, 2019. The church attacks came in the middle of Easter Sunday services. Two Sri Lankan groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have been blamed in the attacks.
Then-President Maithripala Sirisena created a five-person commission to investigate the attacks. The commission’s final report was presented to the president last month.
However, current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa then appointed a new six-member committee to study the report without sharing the report with the Church or with the attorney general to prosecute suspects.
The refusal to release the contents of the report has led to criticism, with fears that corruption or negligence have prevented prosecution of collaborators in the attack. The study committee is composed only of government ministers who are members of the ruling coalition.
“We have a lot of doubts about this whole process, the whole thing is getting delayed,” Bishop Fernando told the Associated Press last month.
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Fernando criticized the makeup of the committee. It was not balanced, and its integrity can be questioned because some members have other court cases pending against them, he said.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has requested a copy of the report and called on the president to release it publicly.
The cardinal has warned that he would seek help from international Church bodies if the government does not quickly act on the report.