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Concerns raised over lack of oversight on Covid-19 response

Sri Lanka public administration, all prevention and management of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and healthcare provisions and other economic activities are now being carried out with the engagement of retired military officers on the directions of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The lack of civilian oversight over Sri Lanka’s militarised COVID-19 response raises some very serious human rights concerns, said the International Truth and Justice Project.

Experienced professionals from the civil service should be in charge of coordinating complex public health and distribution issues, not the Army,” ITJP’s Executive Director Yasmin Sooka, emphasized recently.

Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe has been appointed as the Secretary to the Ministry of Health replacing the present secretary Ms. Badrani Jayawardena.

 Major General Munasinghe is the Director General of Army Medical Services and former Colonel Commandant of Army Medical Corps.

He is an alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine of University of Ruhuna. He completed his MBBS degree in 1986 and joined the Sri Lanka Army in the same year.

With Major General Munasinghe’s appointment as the Health Secretary, the number of present and ex-military officers in top public administration previously confined to Sri Lanka Administrative Service has risen up to 10.

These military appointments raise the question as to who in the civilian administration will be held accountable for activities carried out by them, civil society activists said.

They noted that Sri Lanka‘s strategic nerve centres like the defense ministry, Colombo port, Sri Lanka Customs, Consumer Affairs Authority, Lotus Tower Project etc are now under the purview of military officers.

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