The Tamil National Alliance on Friday expressed its concern over the very slow pace in the implementation of crucial initiatives with respect to safeguarding human rights issues in Sri Lanka.
Citing reasons for it’s claim, the TNA pointed out the delay in releasing private lands illegally occupied by the military; the continued use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the government’s failure to repeal it; the breach of undertakings to release those held under the PTA; and the continuing surveillance and harassment of civilians in the North and East, as issues that was proving to be an obstruction towards reconciliation in the country.
“Delay in the resettlement of displaced people in both the North and East, and in the restoration of normal life by providing then with housing, livelihood opportunities and other facilities continues to be a matter of concern and is a great impediment to the process of reconciliation and the return to normalcy,” the TNA said in a statement.
The party also noted that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council had accurately captured the opportunities and challenges for reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka,.
“With respect to the reconciliation mechanisms proposed by the government, we welcome the tabling of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in Parliament. The government consulted us on the Bill, and we are pleased that several of the extensive revisions we urged have been included in the gazetted text. We commend the government for its constructive engagement on the Bill. We look forward to further amendments being moved at the committee stage, and to the early passage of the law through Parliament,” the party said in a statement.
According to the TNA, a law on the lines contemplated by the Bill, if implemented sincerely, could bring relief to families of the forcibly disappeared who are in desperate need of answers. “The OMP must represent a dramatic break from the experience of failed Commissions, including the current Paranagama Commission which lacks credibility. We reiterate that justice for crimes committed in the past by both sides is a necessary precondition to meaningful reconciliation,” the statement added.
The party also noted the High Commissioner’s observations on the importance of crafting a new Constitution that serves all citizens of Sri Lanka and the support that the proposition has received from several countries. “An acceptable resolution to the national question through adequate constitutional arrangements is fundamental to the process of genuine and effective reconciliation and to the attainment of justice with equality and permanent peace by all people in Sri Lanka. We will continue to remain engaged with all parties towards this end, with a view to addressing the longstanding national question that has plagued Sri Lanka,” the TNA added.