Sunday, 16 February 2014
No proper information available on methodology
PIAC ducks media queries
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Australian NGO who carried out a study on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the final phase of war, has ducked media queries over ‘quantity’, transparency and accuracy of its research.
Asian Mirror a news website based in Sri Lanka has already sent two questionnaires to the Australian NGO seeking more details about the mechanism of the study. In response, the Australian NGO had only sent a brief and vague explanation, without giving specific answers to any of the questions posed by the Asian Mirror journalist.
The questionnaire consisted of 10 questions: 1. Can you explain the ‘quantity’ of your study? (the total number of interviewees, time frame, total cost of the study etc ), 2. Whom did you identify as the stakeholders of your study? 3. What was the manner in which you gathered evidence? 4. How many eye witness accounts did you take into consideration? 5. At any point of your study, did you contact the Sri Lankan Army and get their version of the story? 6. Did you contact the government of Sri Lanka as part of your study? 7. How did you check the veracity of the information you gathered? 8. Did you check your information with multiple sources? 9. Did you conduct the study in collaboration with some party based in Sri Lanka? 10. How did you communicate with the people on the ground who were truly affected by war?
In response to the media query, Gamma Pearce had sent the ‘fact sheet’ available on their website saying it would help to answer the aforesaid questions.
The fact sheet which had only two paragraphs gives a brief description on the methodology of the study conducted by ‘International Crimes Evidence Project (ICEP), a PIAC project.
“ICEP has collected and analysed information from a range of sources including: witness accounts; photographs and videos; satellite imagery and analysis; confidential correspondence; UN and non-government organisation reports; and other open-source material.
ICEP has undertaken a rigorous legal analysis of the evidentiary material. That evidentiary material is made up of new witness testimony, as well as existing information that had not previously been subject to in-depth factual and legal scrutiny. On the basis of ICEP’s factual and legal analysis of the evidentiary material, it is likely that international crimes were committed in the period under investigation. This highlights the need for a full, independent international inquiry on these issues.”
The above clearly constitutes an artful-dodge garbed in a thin and misleading term called ‘evidentiary’. It is mindboggling that an organization making such serious allegations on the basis of what would have had to be an exhaustive study, doesn’t have the intellectual wherewithal to respond to the straight and simple questions that Asia Mirror has put to it. ‘The Nation’ considering the response of the PIAC to the above questions observes the following’:
a) The PIAC has blatantly violated ethics and values of researching – which is a ‘science’.
b) The PIAC has deliberately attempted to tarnish the image of another country by releasing the results of a half-baked research
c) The PIAC has obstructed the right to information
d) The PIAC has demonstrated that it is not capable of handling an extensive study on any subject.
e) The Australian Labour Party and Green Party, who successfully obtained a Senate motion for that country to support a US sponsored anti-Sri Lanka resolution in Geneva, have implicated themselves as happy and gullible recipients of hearsay and conjecture.