20 March, 2019

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Government Needs To Take On The Challenge Of The Consultation Task Force Report 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The disquiet about the government’s commitment to deliver on its promises is now extending itself to those sections of the international community that gave their support to the government on the basis of its commitment to human rights and reconciliation. The sense of disenchantment amongst the general population is also getting more pronounced.  The common factor is the failure of the government to deliver on its promises.  With regard to the general population it is the continuing failure to deliver economic development that directly benefits those who depend on governmental largesse to get them out of poverty. It is also the ineffectiveness of the government’s anti-corruption programme that is reflected in the failure to take cases through to their conclusion.

However, with regard to the international human rights community, and Western governments, the focus is more on the slow pace of reconciliation initiatives that have an impact on those who have long been victims of the conflict.  This sentiment is not confined to the international community but also includes the ethnic minorities who are beginning to feel more convinced that their interests are being neglected by the government in order to cater to ethnic majority sentiment.  They are even beginning to see overtly hostile intent in actions such as the presidential declaration that extends forest cover (Wilpattu) to areas in the North that have been sites of traditional settlement by the ethnic minorities, in this case primarily the Muslims, prior to their displacement by the war.Consultation Task Force Report Chandrika and Manori

The negative reception extended by members of the government to the report of the Consultation Task Force on reconciliation mechanisms has added to the  sense of disquiet within the international community and ethnic minorities.   The government-appointed Task Force obtained submissions from the general public, many of whom were directly affected by the three decades of war.  The Task Force focused its findings on the commitments made by the government to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in October 2015.  The government’s commitments included setting up four new reconciliation mechanisms, namely a truth commission, an office of missing persons, an office of reparations and a special court to try war crimes.  The government also pledged to make the laws more human rights-friendly and to demilitarize the former war zones of the North and East.

Politically Controversial 

The Task Force recommendations have met with the support and appreciation of the international human rights community and the ethnic minorities. The recommendations seek to meet international standards.  The report itself provides material that is invaluable in terms of concepts and cases that could be used for a public education campaign.  However, the lukewarm if not negative response from those in the government is clearly visible. The problem that the government seems to be having is that the Task Force recommendations do not correspond to the general sentiment in the ethnic majority Sinhalese population. This is especially true of the recommendation that there should be international participation in the proposed special courts, with its provision for foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators. The adverse media focus on the hybrid court structure recommended by the Task Force has deflected public attention away from all other recommendations.

The Task Force recommendation of hybrid courts follows its observation that there is a near total lack of confidence in the Tamil polity and in victims of human rights violations in the impartiality of the Sri Lankan judicial system where it concerns the security forces. There are several cases where the defendants who were members of the security forces have been acquitted by the courts.  The most recent example is the case of assassinated Jaffna parliamentarian Raviraj. The security forces are today routinely described as war heroes by government and opposition leaders for having won the war.  The issue is whether the judicial system can ignore the factor of ethnicity unless state institutions, including the judicial system, are reformed to ensure justice in the context of a multi ethnic and multi religious society.

The challenge for the government will be to take the recommendations of the Task Force and implement them in a manner that is politically viable. The government’s hold on power is stable so long as the two main coalition partners, the UNP and SLFP, are in agreement. The difficulty that the government seems to be having is that it needs to persuade the SLFP component of the government, which is now headed by President Sirisena, to go along with politically controversial decisions that are taken in regard to inter-ethnic relations. Where constitutional reform is concerned, the SLFP has already stated its position in a conservative manner. They have said that they will not go beyond the unitary state and are not in favour of ratifying constitutional change through a referendum which reduces the scope for reform. The government’s continual postponement of local government elections over the past two years is an indication of its reluctance to face the electorate at this time.

Costly Failure 

On the other hand, any failure on the part of the government to deliver on its promises can also be politically costly to it in the longer term.  The government has to be cognizant that its candidate won the presidential election in January 2015 due to the wholehearted support given to it by the ethnic minority political parties and voters.  The support of the ethnic minority parties can also be important in those instances where the two major political parties are in opposition to one another.  At the present time, these two parties, the UNP and SLFP, are in coalition so the importance of the ethnic minority parties in order to secure a majority in parliament is not there.  However, this situation could change in the future.  The ethnic minority vote also becomes very important during a presidential election, when the entire country votes as a single electorate, and every vote counts as witnessed at the presidential election of 2015.

 The failure of the government to deliver on its promises can also be costly in terms of international support.  The government is on the verge of obtaining the GSP Plus tariff concessions from the EU which it lost six years ago.   It is reported that 50,000 jobs in the apparel industry alone were lost as a result.  The finance minister has said that regaining the tariff concession will mean an additional income of Rs 2 billion to the country.   While the European Commission, which is the administrative arm of the EU, has recommended the restoration of the GSP privilege, this has to be ratified by the EU parliament, which is a political body.  If the EU finds that the government view on the implementation of the Task Force report corresponds to the critical views that have emerged from within the government so far, it can lead to a political decision being made in Brussels that will be adverse to the grant of the tariff concession.

 In this context there are two campaigns that the government has to speedily embark upon.  The first is to persuade the international community that the government’s dominance over the polity is by no means an assured fact.  The government needs to constantly take the majority of people with it, especially with regard to measures that are controversial and arouse deep seated emotions.  This is no easy task when nationalist forces are waiting in the wings for a takeover.  The second campaign for the government to undertake would be with the general population, to persuade them that the recommendations of the Consultation Task Force on reconciliation mechanisms are in accordance with the government’s commitments to the international community.   The government needs to convince the people that these commitments are in the best interests of the country.  This may not be as difficult as it seems, because most people do want justice and reconciliation to be the heritage of all.

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  • 4
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    President Maithripala Sirisena is the problems. He is no leader. He is overanxious to placate the coterie of monks and fair weather politicians,who have his ear, in the name of public opinion. He is developing political ambitions, encouraged by these men. The 19th amendment which was deliberately botched is giving birth to a new cardboard Caesar to the detriment of the good governance promised. This is ourcurrent tragedy.

    I hope our president- increasing proving to be a Lilliputian- listens to President Barack Obama’s fairwell speach to understand what democracy and good governance mean. In fact every one of us have to listen to it directly or read in translalation. It is an excellent lecture delivered by a erudite and passionate speaker who has seen it all and played a key role in making our contemporary history.

    https://youtu.be/siyBp8Csugk

    Dr,Rajasingham Narendran

    • 1
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      Dr Narendran

      Re Obama, you should read “Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence” in Counterpunch today by Jeffrey St Clair. Sorry I can’t cut n paste the website as on a mobile.

      • 1
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        JP Ranil-Sira Jarapalanaya govt. has failed on many fronts due to political corruption and is in a panic today- running around to find FDI because of the failure to attract real investment and create GOOD JOBS.

        After the Volkswagon car plant debacle organized by the clown Harsha de Silva, Ravi K. says Coca Cola Corp. wants to invest in Sri Lanka – a vary dangerous project indeed.

        Coca cola was thrown out of India for water pollution and there are various cases against it – just like Volkswagon.
        Cases against Coca-Cola Kerala State: India

        In a number of districts of India, Coca Cola and its subsidiaries are accused of creating severe water shortages for the community by extracting large quantities of water for their factories, affecting both the quantity and quality of water. Coca Cola has the largest soft drink bottling facilities in India. Water is the primary component of the products manufactured by the company.

        Sri Lanka is facing drught, water and energy crisis, and electricity shut downs annually due to climate change and global warming, and environmental degradation due to a failed development model.

        Failed development model of Ranil-Sira Jarapalanaya, inviting hodes of Chinese and Indians to invest when resources are depleting and climate change shock is here.
        Massive concrete and port cities are being built while remaining natural resources are being stripped and destroyed by sand mining, de-forestation, destruction of water-shed all in the name of development that is totally UNSUSTAINABLE even though President Sira talks non stop about sustainable development!

        Seems that only dodggy global Corporations are interested in investing in Sri Lanka today. What is needed in NON-POLLUTING investments that are clean and green and hi-tech.

      • 0
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        Manel Fonseka,

        Thanks, especially for the link, which I read several times over.

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/the-president-who-wasnt-there-barack-obamas-legacy-of-impotence/

        It is cynical to the extent that it analyses Obama and his performance, divorced from the entrenched political reality- the bureaucracy that shapes policy, the Senate and Congress that can be hostile and the Media that put him under the microscope. He was not the Bill Clinton burdened by Monica Lewinsky and did not provide the saucy distractions the media yearned for. His was a dignified presidency.

        Obama never lost his idealism during his presidency, but was pragmatic enough to achieve what he could, using the leeway he had within the checks and balances entrenched in the system. The American system of governance has a constancy that is inbuilt. It is not designed for once in five years revolutions, like we do! We in Sri Lanka have not had any government that has governed constitutionally or been constrained by the rule of law. We have never had long term goals. Everything is turned topsy turvy with every change of government. Political expediency dictates how we are governed. Now corruption has become an additional burden.

        I think it was President Herbert Hoover who said that, ” One has to do what he can, with what he has, where he is”. This is what Barack Obama did and helped reverse the Bush legacy and moved America forward to the extent he could and was permitted. What I admire in him, is the fact that he has not lost his idealism despite eight years of a difficult presidency. He was a Black/ Half-White President, who defined American in Lincolnian language.

        Dr.RN

        • 2
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          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

          Obama is only the president. Not much was expected from him.

          • 0
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            Obumer did not shut Guantanamo Bay,
            Did not pull out the forces from Iraq
            But waged covert wars at Ukraine, Syria
            Destroyed Libya and
            moved more Royingas (Bangladeshis) to Burma.(San Suu Kyi learnt the hard way that USA is not for her or peace but shifting crusading Muslims across Asia.
            all this to keep in line with Nobel Prize for turncoats like Narendra.

        • 1
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          Dr RN

          Yes, Obama’s was certainly a dignified presidency. And now he has done something that i for one congratulate him for — commuted long-suffering Chelsea Manning’s sentence. She will be released in May.

          Let’s hope he also signs the release of American Indian Leonard Peltier

          Manelf

        • 0
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          And I see that Obama has commuted 1385 sentences, more than any other President, so that is something to felicitate him for.

          • 0
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            Most of them are drug dealers and yes its a record for any President for USA. Yet another record- more Americans and ME and Afghans died under his term of office than Bush Jr so the forces went against him-(he had a problem with white people like his mum had)
            Jesse Jackson pointed out to the protesting Democratic Party University students that the 15 million illegals were in fact cheap labour for the multinationals- same as the riots of England against cheap multinational labour that is never checked or made difficult by Home office.

        • 0
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          Dr RN

          There was another scathing assessment of Obama in yesterday’s Counterpunch by British journalist John Pilger.

          • 0
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            Correction to my last post: Pilger is, of course, Australian not British. I was thinking of Robert Fisk.

        • 0
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          “” His was a dignified presidency.””
          waffle, waffle, burp, burp.

          The scumbag was sooo dignified that he pressed the button on Gaddafi and Libya which had better social funding than Scandinavian nations and finally blamed Cameron and Sarkozy.
          He was personally responsible for Nandikadal and now there is vacancy at Gautanamo Bay for catholic crusaders GTF and Buddhist Lankans.

    • 0
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      Dr Narendran

      Re Obama, you should read “The President Who Wasnt There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence” in Counterpunch today by Jeffrey St Clair. Sorry I can’t cut n paste the website as on a mobile.

    • 0
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      LOL at first you say Maithree should not heed to what the majority of the people say in Sri Lanka…and then you suggest My3 should uphold democracy…..Arent you contradicting yourself?

      • 0
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        Sach,

        Majoritarianism is not democracy in a multi-ethnic country! It is a system that takes into account the will of the majority among all communities that will constitute democracy in a country like ours. Face facts.

        It is the day the system permits a Tamil, Muslim or Burgher is elected the president or Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, that we would be entitled to call ourselves a functional democracy.

        Dr.RN

        • 0
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          So minoritarianism is the democracy to you?
          You are saying MY3 should NOT listen to the majority of the country and should actually suppress their voice…And you have the nerve to call it democracy..

          As shown again and again what you want is minority rule over majority…

          • 0
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            Sach,

            Democracy is neither majaoritarianism nor minoritarianism in our context. These opposites are irreconcilable, unacceptable and anathema to democracy. The system must treat every citizen as equal and judge them on the basis of ability.

            Every citizen’s human right to be what he/she is within the law should be respected. This right also extends to the community he /she is affiliated with.

            I repeat these basics of democracy, to shed light on the darkness you try to disperse in profusion.

            Dr.RN

            • 0
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              But what you are suggesting is minoritarianism….

              Arent you just saying MY3 should not heed Sinhala people’s demands and just deliver what the tamils want..does not that involve totally rejecting the Sinhala demands and suppressing their voice?

              Is it not Minoritarianism?

              • 2
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                sachoooooooooooooooo the stupid II

                “Arent you just saying MY3 should not heed Sinhala people’s demands “

                Including free rice from the moon. They may demand free plastic rice from China as the prolonged drought has reduced rice harvest.

                Sirisena should heed because the majority is demanding.

                • 0
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                  Majority of yours!
                  Ha Ha!

              • 0
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                It is always they are right and Sinhalese are wrong, And calling for reconciliation!

                • 0
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                  You just need to see there exists a rain bow —
                  Men of your nature will always see it only black and white.

                  Just attacking the messenger this way – should only be done if you are brain sick. SG – you as a sepatagenarian – please think about the future of the masses regardless of the race religion or other parameters.

                  I as sinhalaya- I say, that the manner many of the leaders incl. MR were not fair to tamils and their grivances.
                  Just acting pleasing his men to stay in power – being power intoxicated, former almost ended up in all depths.

        • 1
          3

          A tamil, muslim or a Burgher can be elected, there is no constitutional blockade. But that person will have to win the trust of the majority of the country.

          If this country goes down it is the majority that will suffer MOST..so majority have a RIGHT to have a GREATER say…When terrorism was oppressing the people in this country it was the majority that defended it with a small section of minority…see…

          You cannot insult the majority, shout racist slogans and demand separatism and find wrong with Sinhalese for not having any tamil president…you have to earn their trust.

          • 0
            1

            “A tamil, muslim or ………. that person will have to win the trust of the majority of the country. “

            How do you convince the Sinhala Buddhists? Prove Tamils can bring in stringent Sinhala Only, stronger Standardization, conduct more savagely Mullivaaikkaal or organize brutal 1958, 1977 & 1983? Where it says those are democratic government’s activities?

            Why are you stubbornly insisting the brutality of the Sinhala Buddhism is the only democracy that can exist? Then how did Lincoln got elected twice against white voters’ aspirations, but with only whites’ votes? American Whites who didn’t support abolition of Slavery, but they supported democratic ruling of America. People don’t rule. Representatives rule. They are the ones have to ensure the democratic principles implemented. Democracy has two parts, Electing and Governing. Sinhala Buddhism doesn’t support democratic ruling but support dictatorship to uphold racism. That’s why from Sirimavo to until Old Royals all governments extended their ruling time violating the constitution. 1978 Constitution and 6A, 13A and 18A are described by international Jurist as against human rights.

            Anywhere human rights violations embed in the law passed by the representatives of an elected government, they have violated the democracy. Once Lankawe thought MMDA was allowing a minority to follows it customs which are acceptable for their majority is no longer constitutional.

            Democracy is a progressive idea. Now more maxims added to Greeks’ definition or the very first people’s constitution of America.
            Democracy is a government for the one voted to it and voted against it. But it cannot go against the non-voted on human right violation. So democracy is not only majority government, but just government for all its constituents. Sinhala Buddhism is not even majoritarianism, it is only terrorism. When JR said he wanted to starve Tamils to please Sinhalese that is terrorism.

    • 0
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      I salute the Sinhala members of the task force on war crimes, for their brave and impartial stand. These are the people who are required to build a united and fair country, free of racism.

      • 0
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        only till they can come to power- you cant change the genes in a country without resources but maids for Arabs.

  • 2
    2

    hello jehan ! Your paymasters may be wanting it done but one can not enforce jackboot policies. It must come through a sane consensus.

    Dr. RN… Obama is another off the book talk shop.
    Received the Nobel Human Rights award at commencement of his Presidency and ended up being a mass murderer during his watch.
    Did Norway bribe him with the Nobel peace prize???????????

    • 0
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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 3
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        Prophet jim softy peace be upon you

        Thanks for your latest prophecy.

    • 0
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      Dear friend,

      You are worried about Obama peace prize because he took it away when your leftist professor Laksiri Fernando recommended in 2009 it to be given to Old King and Old Brother Prince. Because Ponner was not in that recommended group, Norway did not consider Laksiri Fernando recommendation and went with Obama.

      From Sirimavo to Ranil and New King, there was/is no murderer, zero casualty leaders who did not try the peace prize. Shame on you to keep your puny, ostrich head under the sand and talk about others Nobel Prize.

  • 1
    1

    The presence of three (of the many) stooges watching the handing over of the report to a former president who ousted Ranil when he was abroad and who figured in many scams and presided over many human rights violations says it all.
    Nothing will happen as long as this military regime holds sway over peoples’ rights.

  • 0
    0

    At the moment the most important matter at hand is for the government to deliver the goods as regards poverty elevation , stop selling our labour at less than global value and improve the rural fringe dwellers to realize their dream of living in their own land with a plot large enough for home garden cultivation to say the least .People find that overnight the land they have been living for generations taken off them for they hold no titles and have not got even Squatters rights all for the sake of creating jobs alien to their tradition in an Industrial zone at wages which the ILO does not even want to talk about ..If here is some move towards this the reconciliation will happen at grass roots level. The ethnic rivalry or distrust or the depressed frame of mind that makes people think that the government policy of meeting international demands only make for the precious resources be differently distributed , would just be a thing of the past .Let us think of our people in the context of our own and our commitments genuine and sincere and not mere steps taken to please some international organization ..May be such a scenario is just wishful thinking of religious ideology.

  • 0
    0

    OISL report pointed its finger at 42 criminals and recommended for IC investigation. UNHRC High Commissioner Prince Zeid and American State Secretary John Kerry messed it up as internal investigation. When everybody recommended for IC investigation they two messed it up. Secretary Kerry without understanding Lankawe’s Democratic-Dictatorship built on racism, kept saying that he had turned around Lankawe like Myanmar. But the current political situation on the Island is Yahapalanaya so scared to conduct election because Old Royals going to capture the power. That is how he turned around Lankawe! Now Secretary Kerry gone without doing achieving. Let’s see if HC Zied understand the head & tail of the Lankawe’s Appa Diplomacy.

    Unless UNHRC also expertise in cyberwar, Lankawe won’t budge to UNHRC.

    Long after Sonia’s co-burglary in Lankawe with Old King, India is starting to feel how are they are fooled by Lankawe. They, for the first time, pulled out of ETCA themselves. They refused to give ship for Tamils to go to Chidambaram for a Hindu festival. Now they feel Lankawe is showing China loans and trying to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    America got it. India seems to have got it. UNHRC yet to get. Sad!

  • 0
    0

    POPE FRANCIS TO BLESS PHILIPPINES AND PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
    The move will be a gesture of goodwill to a controversial figure,

    Where are the stupid human Rights and GTF?

    Gotabaya for president- the country needs to be disciplined and free from pirates.

    • 1
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      Grease Yakka.

      “Gotabaya for president- the country needs to be disciplined and free from pirates.”

      Can you also arrange transport for 21 Million people to leave the island?

      Are you planning to live alone with Gota in your love nest?

      • 0
        0

        “”Are you planning to live alone with Gota in your love nest?””

        Free Port like Future UK and present Singapore.
        No elections No trouble makers and no stupid human rights.
        Water and Grease is human right.

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