Sri Lanka plans new statute to redress Tamils’ grievances

September 15, 2015 03:08 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:10 am IST - COLOMBO:

Ahead of the release of a report on the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Eelam War, Sri Lanka on Monday unveiled a set of proposals to redress the “grievances of the Tamil people,” including the adoption of a new Constitution and setting up of a truth commission.

Addressing the 30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said: “The best guarantee for non-recurrence [of violence] is, of course, a political settlement that addresses the grievances of the Tamil people. We hope we can achieve this through the adoption of a new Constitution. A Constituent Assembly of Parliament will be set up for this purpose shortly.”

Mr. Samaraweera, who led his country’s delegation that included Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa and Eastern Province’s Governor Austin Fernando, said a Commission for Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-recurrence would be set up in consultation with countries like South Africa “which have been advising us.”

Besides, an Office on Missing Persons would be established. Based on the principle of the families’ right to know, the organisation would take expertise from the International Committee of the Red Cross and function “in line with internationally accepted standards.”

Mr. Samaraweera added that a judicial mechanism would be put in place with special counsel.

It would take into account the right of victims to “a fair remedy” and address the problem of impunity for human rights violations suffered by all communities.

An Office for Reparations would be created for implementing the recommendations to be made by the proposed Truth Commission, the Office of the Missing Persons, the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) and any other entity.

Mr. Samaraweera outlined other measures such as strengthening the National Human Rights Commission in line with the Paris Principles and signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The government would also issue instructions to all branches of the security establishment that torture, sexual violence and other human rights violations were prohibited and those responsible would be punished.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act would be replaced with one on anti-terrorism in tune with “contemporary international best practices.” The moratorium on death penalty would be maintained with a view to abolishing it ultimately, he said.

The government would also release reports of two Presidential Commissions by the end of this month, besides issuing certificates of absence to families of the missing as a temporary measure of relief; disengaging the military from commercial activities; and undertaking security-sector reforms.

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