Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CPA and other NGOs had no interest in next of kin of deceased - Commission Report

Conspiracy by counsel to discredit the commission

The justice Udalagama Presidential Commission (COI) report on human rights violations, in its recently released report, states that NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives and INFORM etc., "were more interested in satisfying their paymasters'', the foreign INGO ACF (....whose employees, 17 aid workers were shot and killed, which was one subject of the commission investigation....) "than securing compensation for the victims.''

CPA and other NGOs had no interest in next of kin of deceased - Commission Report

Conspiracy by counsel to discredit the commission

The justice Udalagama Presidential Commission (COI) report on human rights violations, in its recently released report, states that NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives and INFORM etc., "were more interested in satisfying their paymasters'', the foreign INGO ACF (....whose employees, 17 aid workers were shot and killed, which was one subject of the commission investigation....) "than securing compensation for the victims.''

The commission report cites in detail the subterfuge of the NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which in furtherance of their "well known'' agendas are alleged, according to the commission report, to have had a one-track objective, which was to "attempt to discredit every possible institution and authority of this country before the Commission, and attempt to hold one party responsible for the gruesome crime. ''

The commission report states that the Centre for Policy Alternatives etc., went to great lengths to discredit the security forces, and was not interested in finding who was responsible for the crime except to pin it on their "targeted group."

At one point the commission report states that "it appears from the above that there had been a preconceived plan or a conspiracy to discredit the Commission by making false allegations and or exaggerating and twisting the truth to suit their purpose in order to achieve the long term objective of interested parties including their paymasters to discredit and disrupt the Commission for the consumption of some of the international organizations.''

In a stinging indictment on counsel who appeared for the NGOs such as CPA, the report states at one point ".....false positions were) taken by Counsel who withdrew from the Commission thereafter, which enables them to make irresponsible statements and then run away.''

Pinpointing various instances where "counsel repeatedly took up matters obviously to cater to other interests'' the report states that the counsel for these NGOs had a "conflict of interests'', manifest by a "narrow outlook'' to pin the blame on the security forces. Counsel are also faulted for 'making wild allegations'' at various times, and at times against the officers of the Commission to discredit their credibility. Below are some of the relevant extracts of the Report:

It is necessary to consider some of the matters referred to in the written submissions filed on behalf of the so called civil society consisting of seven organizations namely, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Home for Human Rights, INFORM, Law & Society Trust, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Rights Now-Collective for Democracy and Sri Lanka National Commission of Jurists, and the counsel of the next of kin who previously represented ACF which suddenly left the Commission without giving reasons. The purported "civil society'' before the Commission were non Governmental organizations, known in the public domain to hold a common point of view of supporting causes that in the public perception are well known, on which the Commission does not desire to elaborate; but has considered their line of conduct and cross examination before the Commission requires comment. The lawyers who represented the said organizations and the next of kin though purportedly watching matters of public interest, as set out in the civil societies mandate placed in writing before the Commission, showed total disregard in matters affecting the interests of deceased persons' next of kin.

This aspect should have been the prime fact of concern in terms of the mandate presented to show their interest and gain representation in the case, but they appeared to be more anxious to safeguard the interest of the foreign based NGO, the ACF. It was sad that their contribution was negligible with regard to enhancing the compensation package due to the next of kin, which should have been a matter in which they should have interested themselves. Instead they left it to the others who assisted the Commission. The Counsel who represented the next of kin and previously the ACF, may have been in a conflict of interest situation. Their main function was in the attempt to discredit every possible institution and authority of this country before the Commission, and attempt to hold one party responsible for the gruesome crime. They did not consider any other group being possible offenders, or show any interest in ascertaining on whom responsibility could be placed except their targeted group. They appeared not to ascertain the truth but to engage in a fault finding exercise of the security forces of Sri Lanka. We consider it as a suspiciously narrow outlook to adopt, not worthy of a role to be played by responsible civil society members, who should have looked at issues broadly to ascertain who the actual culprits are in this ghastly act.

We have prefaced our findings with these sentiments as the said civil society organizations have been critical of so many functionaries before the Commission, in their several submissions when their own conduct required examination. It is for these reasons we dwell on this subject. One of the submissions made by them:

1. The so called harassment of witnesses, as alleged is as follows:

(a) It is alleged that Rev. Father Swarnaraj who was a witness in this case was approached by two unknown individuals during the Commission's tea break and these two individuals "aggressively questioned him regarding his on-going testimony".

When this matter was brought to the notice of the Commission, it caused an immediate inquiry, and within few minutes. Counsel was informed at the hearing that an officer of the Investigation Unit, which Unit that had already recorded Father's statement, had asked the Rev. Father the name and address of a particular Reverend Brother who was referred to by the Father during the course of his evidence. This had taken place in the presence of Witness Protection Officers.

This was a sequel to the instructions given by the Commission to the Investigation unit at the time the Unit was formed. They were told to follow the proceedings and in the course of the evidence of any witness any new name transpires who would be of importance to arrive at the truth, to obtain particulars of that person, from the witness and record the statement to ascertain whether his testimony would be of any assistance. However, the day this alleged incident took place the Commission warned the Unit not to speak to any witness during the course of his testimony before the Commission. All these matters were brought to the notice of both Counsel for the so called civil society and the deceased party. Notwithstanding the above, these two Counsel repeatedly took this matter up on two occasions later obviously to cater to some other interests.

It is false to say that two officers questioned the Father. It is also palpably false and dishonest to say that Father was "aggressively questioned regarding his ongoing testimony". It is surprising and shocking to hear for the first time that "under individual questioning the officers gave conflicting testimony". No such thing ever happened, and these intentional and deliberate false positions taken by Counsel who withdrew from the Commission thereafter, which enables them to make irresponsible statements and then run away. Counsel assisting the Commission should act in a more responsible manner and not make wild accusations against officers of the Commission. The nature and the contents of the allegations reflect a deliberate design to discredit the Commission and its officers.

The Rev. Father's testimony and statements made to the police and the Investigating Unit of the Commission when taken together, are not favourable to the LTTE as he speaks of LTTE presence on the 4th morning and the other alleged parties were not seen in the town area at that time according to his evidence. If there were any threats to him, as alleged, it could originate from the LTTE against whom his evidence was unfavourable.

However, after his testimony before the Commission, it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that the Father has sought asylum and is now in a foreign country. One wonders whether all these "theatrics" and uproar were to facilitate his seeking asylum.

(b) The Rev. Father "felt threatened" when Counsel for the Army, Mr Gomin Dayasiri, "used a mobile phone camera to take pictures of him and a Commissioner" during a Commission tea break. In actual fact Commissioner Dr Nesiah had been talking to the Father at a critical stage of his evidence during the adjournment, and a picture had been taken for the purpose of establishing the said fact by evidence. It must be noted that Mr Dayasiri had raised the propriety of Dr Nesiah sitting as a Commissioner due to his relationship with the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a party before the Commission. In fact this matter was brought to the immediate notice of the Commission by Mr Gomin Dayasiri himself, to the impropriety of a Commissioner talking privately to a witness in the course of his giving evidence. The photograph was shown to the Commission to support the submission. In fairness to Dr Nesiah, being a laymen, would have been unaware of the inquirer - witness relationship that should prevail during an inquiry, and no intentional fault could be attributed to Dr Nesiah. There may have been an undoubted lapse on the part of Commissioner Nesiah and the Rev. Father through ignorance. In the circumstances we see no merit in this objection.

(c) It is alleged that they received unconfirmed reports "of continuing visits to witnesses' homes by the Criminal Investigation Division, both prior to and after their testimony before the Commission. There is no Criminal Investigation Division in the Commission nor is the Commission aware of any such Division elsewhere. This type of false misleading allegation can seriously affect the credibility of the Commission.

All witnesses are given protection before and after their testimony by the Victim and Witness Protection Unit headed by a DIG (retired). They were well looked after and were assured protection and secrecy. Never a complaint was received from any witness about any kind of harassment. This is obvious fantasy on the part of the Counsel for the Civil society.

(d) At one stage Counsel indicated to the Commission that some officers of the Investigation Unit, by their body language, were attempting to influence a witness before the Commission. The Commission found that this was totally false. It is the officers of the investigation Unit who record the statements of witnesses before they are called to give evidence.

2. Vide the written submissions, attempts have been made to pass the blame on the Commission for the resignation of Dr Devanesan Nesiah. Objection was taken by Counsel for the Army/Navy and the STF that in view of the participation of the seven civil societies, one of which was the Centre for Policy Alternatives, it has been stated Dr Nesiah had connections with the said society as an employee and therefore there was a conflict of interest in the participation of Dr Nesiah in the Commission. Dr Nesiah denied that he was an employee of the Centre for Policy Alternatives. Counsel stressed the fact that this objection was only so long as CPA was a participant in the proceedings, that Dr Nesiah acts as an employee of the CPA.

3. Reference has been made by the "Civil Societies" to what is termed as "evidence of profound irregularities". To substantiate this assertion they refer to the evidence of a particular Lieutenant who had made a statement during the investigating stage of the Commission. It is alleged this particular witness has subsequently, about a month after, written a letter to the Commission to change the record of his testimony. It is further alleged that the Commission never intended to disclose this letter but that it had accidentally got included in the Commission's records.

This position is absolutely incorrect and is an attempt to discredit the Commission by the so called "Civil Society". At the initial stage of the investigating proceedings, it was brought to the notice of the Commission that statements made by witnesses before the Commission cannot be made use of before a Court of Law in the event of any criminal prosecution. In view of this the Commission decided to get the witness sign his statement after his testimony before the Commission. The typing of witnesses' testimony before the Commission takes about a month as the stenographers have to check the audio tapes and type the proceedings. When this particular witness was called to sign the statement about a month later, he was required to go through the statement and sign it as the correct reflection of his testimony. At that stage he had discovered that a particular answer had not been correctly recorded and wanted to correct it. It is at this stage that the officer responsible for keeping records has requested a letter, if he needs a correction to be made. This was purely a bona fide exercise and in fact was done quite transparently.

The assertion that this was a profound irregularity is absolutely misleading and incorrect, especially when this position was clearly indicated to the Counsel who apparently accepted it. The Commission finds that this was the only instance where a witness sought to correct the record.

It appears from the above that there had been a preconceived plan or a conspiracy to discredit the Commission by making false allegations and or exaggerating and twisting the truth to suit their purpose in order to achieve the long term objective of interested parties including their paymasters to discredit and disrupt the Commission for the consumption of some of the international organizations.

Witness Protection

Much has been said about the inadequacy of witness protection. It must be said at the very outset that Witness and Victim Protection is a concept new to Sri Lanaka. In fact most countries, like India, Pakistan, Indonesia amongst others do not have any kind of witness protection schemes. The Commission on its own initiative, even before the Bill that is now before parliament was introduced, decided to have its own Victims and Witness Protection scheme.

The following Sri Lankan civil society organizations made a request for full standing before the Commission which was granted.

(i) Centre for Policy Alternatives 24/2, 28th Lane, Off Flower Road, Colombo7.

(ii) Home for Human Rights, 14, Pentrive Gardens, Colombo 3

(iii) INFORM, 5 Jayaratne Avenue, Colombo 5

(iv) Law and Society Trust, 3 Kynsey Terrace, Colombo, 8

(v) Mother's and Daughters of Lanka, 19 1/1 Sri Dhamma Road,.Colombo, 10

(vi) Rights Now - Collective for Democracy, 237/22, Vijaya Kumarathunga Mawatha, Colombo, 5

(vii) Sri Lanka National Commission of Jurists, 26 Charles Place, Colombo 3.

These organizations were represented by the following Counsel:

Mr. Desmond Fernando P.C, Dr. Jayantha de Almeida P.C. Mr. Chandra Kumarage,

Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Mr. M.S. Sumanthiran, Mr. V.S. Ganeshalingam, Ms. Nimalka Fernando,

Mt. B.N. Thmboo

Mi. Kishali Pinto Jayawardane

Ms. Bhavani Fonseka

Ms. G.C. Ranitha

Mi. Sandamal Rajapakse

Mr. K. S. Ratnavel, Mr. S.M.M. Samsudeen and Ms. SheIrene Ahilan appeared for 1)r. K. Manoharan, father of one of the victims.

Mr. Priyantha Gamage subsequently appeared for Law and Society Trust. These counsel were present from 24th March to 15th September 2008.

Courtesy : Lakbima News

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quality assurance

DEFINITION - In developing products and services, quality assurance is any systematic process of checking to see whether a product or service being developed is meeting specified requirements. Many companies have a separate department devoted to quality assurance. A quality assurance system is said to increase customer confidence and a company's credibility, to improve work processes and efficiency, and to enable a company to better compete with others. Quality assurance was initially introduced in World War II when munitions were inspected and tested for defects after they were made. Today's quality assurance systems emphasize catching defects before they get into the final product.

Ask your quality assurance questions at ITKnowledgeExchange.com

ISO 9000 is an international standard that many companies use to ensure that their quality assurance system is in place and effective. Conformance to ISO 9000 is said to guarantee that a company delivers quality products and services. To follow ISO 9000, a company's management team decides quality assurance policies and objectives. Next, the company or an external consultant formally writes down the company's policies and requirements and how the staff can implement the quality assurance system. Once this guideline is in place and the quality assurance procedures are implemented, an outside assessor examines the company's quality assurance system to make sure it complies with ISO 9000. A detailed report describes the parts of the standard the company missed, and the company agrees to correct any problems within a specific time. Once the problems are corrected, the company is certified as in conformance with the standard.

Getting started with quality assurance
To explore how quality assurance is used in the enterprise, here are some additional resources for learning about quality assurance:
Quality process first; quality testing second: Quality is not tangible and is often considered unimportant in development. However, the odds of success are better if there's a constructive quality process and testing lifecycle.
SOA prompts changes in quality assurance: The use of SOA means quality assurance (QA) engineers and testers must include integration, regression, business process, performance and security testing in their test plans.
Software requirements sign-off essential for solid QA: Not properly signing off on a software project's requirements limits the quality assurance (QA) team's ability to ensure that the software does as it's intended.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Quality assurance reviews

The dialogue among stakeholders, audit committees and the regulatory authorities on the role and performance of internal audit has never been more robust, or more candid. Getting the most out of internal audit is now a business imperative. It all starts with a PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Quality Assurance Review –– and our commitment to quality improvement that goes beyond just compliance.

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Today, more than ever, leading organizations depend on the quality of internal audit.

A business climate driven by demands for better governance, accountability and transparency has created new demands on internal audit. In this new climate, audit committees and management are asking tough questions about the quality and effectiveness of their internal audit functions.

Making quality count

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) internal audit services practice has extensive experience in assisting audit committees, chief audit executives and management in ensuring internal audit quality and effectiveness. Our experience is that quality must be considered from three viewpoints:
Effectiveness in meeting the needs of stakeholders;
Efficiency and effectiveness in the use of the latest internal audit best practices; and
Effectiveness in complying with applicable professional and/or regulatory internal audit standards and requirements.

Internal audit must address all three dimensions to be considered highly effective in today’s challenging

To help organizations evaluate and enhance internal audit quality and effectiveness, PwC has developed two models that are useful in helping organizations to envision, structure and operate the most effective internal audit function to meet and exceed stakeholder expectations:
Internal Audit Framework and
Internal Audit Operating Model.

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Profiler: Internal audit benchmarking tool

An integral part of our review methodology includes the use of Profiler, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) unique, trusted benchmarking tool.

Profiler provides definitions for 11 key internal audit value drivers to ensure a common understanding. These value drivers have been identified during actual reviews of other internal audit departments performed by PwC. The tool is flexible, allowing us to assign relative importance to each value driver applicable.

The concept behind Profiler is not to benchmark your internal audit function in comparison to predefined best practices. Rather, we use it to measure your current internal audit processes against what should be best practices for your department given the value drivers identified.

In other words, what we determine to be the best practices will depend on your organization’s culture, ethical values, size, stakeholders’ objectives, and risk management priorities. In addition, through our work with leading internal audit organizations, we have learned that a “best practice” at one organization may be inappropriate at another.

Some of the key features of profiler are that:
It is based on the PwC internal audit framework™;
It is comprised of an Internal Audit best practices library and best practices benchmarking tool for assessing internal audit department performance;
Benchmarking industry scores are based on high performing internal audit departments;
Benchmarking is performed only by experienced Advisory services professionals; and
Content is controlled by knowledge managers experienced in assessing internal audit departments.
IIA compliance tool

We maintain a proprietary electronic tool –– PwCs’ IIA compliance tool –– that contains the professional standards set forth by the IIA and related testing procedures to evaluate compliance of internal audit departments with the IIA standards.

We use this tool to review internal audit’s compliance with the standards and identify potential areas for improvement.

The internal audit framework™ Print-friendly version
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PricewaterhouseCoopers’ internal audit framework provides a strategic model for internal auditors and their stakeholders to understand the relationships and linkages necessary to achieve a high quality and effective internal audit function.

The framework explores:

The relationship between stakeholders’ expectations and the organisation’s risk management priorities;
The difference between the mission of internal audit and its “value drivers”;
How value drivers provide the filter for determining the most appropriate internal audit practices for an organisation;
How core internal audit processes must be aligned with the internal audit mission and value drivers, and
How both planning and performance measurement must be directly driven by the value drivers and wrap around the core internal audit processes

The PricewaterhouseCoopers internal audit operating model™ Print-friendly version
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The PricewaterhouseCoopers internal audit operating model depicts the choices from which organizations and stakeholders often choose in determining the value focus of internal audit and the corresponding supporting internal audit skill sets. The model depicts a dynamic process. In the current environment, organizations are shifting across the spectrum and adjusting as they seek to achieve focus for their current issues.

The model demonstrates the importance of a clear understanding by stakeholders of where the focus of internal audit should be at any point in time. In today’s environment, even internal audit functions that are adept at adjusting to changing business needs must periodically recalibrate and reconfirm value expectations.

Also, the model:
Displays the relationship between the various functional focus points and related internal audit skill sets;
Reveals that, as the value focus shifts across the spectrum, the corresponding skills sets and operating practices of the function must also change, and
Proves that development of relevant skill sets can present a significant challenge to internal audit functions.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers approach to assessing internal audit quality and effectiveness Print-friendly version
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Increasingly, audit committees and management are looking for objective feedback on the effectiveness of their internal audit functions. This demands a structured approach and methodology as well as in-depth knowledge of internal audit practices and processes.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) approach to assessing internal audit quality and effectiveness includes a four-phase plan that follows the Internal Audit Framework.

Phase 1, project planning
Includes defining the specific objectives, stakeholders and deliverables. Key to this phase is a clear and tailored set of objectives for the project overall. For many organizations, the deliverable will include not just a report on internal audit but an action plan to address any gaps noted.

Phase 2, value driver identification
Includes interviews and surveys to gain insight and understanding of both the value drivers of internal audit stakeholders and perceptions of current performance.

Phase 3, current state assessment
Includes detailed reviews and analysis of internal audit’s core processes. In this phase, Profiler™, PwC’s proprietary internal audit best practices benchmarking tool, is used to assess and benchmark the practices of an internal audit function. More importantly, Profiler also enables the identification of other possible best practices that may fit the specific value drivers of the organization. This phase also includes assessments of compliance with applicable professional standards.

Phase 4, solution development
Includes the development of not only a report of findings and observations, but an action plan to implement the specific recommendations that appear to offer the highest value to the organization