4 December, 2020

Blog

Reconciliation: Looking Forward

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Four areas of concern

Having gone through another spate of attacks on Sri Lanka and its government, I thought it would be helpful to set down systematically the charges that are made, and to suggest how we can best deal with them.

In the draft National Reconciliation Policy which was prepared in my office, we referred to three areas where action is needed. The first relates to what might be termed restorative justice, and is I believe the most important.

We have done reasonably well on that in ensuring swift resettlement and much better physical facilities than the areas concerned had previously. But we should do much more about human resource development. There is absolutely no reason not to move on this swiftly, and I fear it is only incompetence and lethargy that are stopping us. Remedying all that should be a priority.

The second area of concern is empowerment. Unfortunately that debate focuses on the balance of power between the Centre and Provinces. Differences there are difficult to resolve, but they should not inhibit movement with regard to empowerment of people rather than politicians. Allowing greater authority to local bodies while entrenching processes of consultation can be pursued swiftly, with no opposition by anyone. Similarly, we can immediately set up a second chamber which will affirm the role of the periphery in decision making at the Centre, since neglect of that has also contributed to problems.

The third area of concern relates to justice, and there too progress has been stymied by excessive concern with war crimes. We should make it clear that, by and large, the allegations are absurd, and the evidence for the general conformity of our forces to rules of engagement should be put forward. But we must also take action against any aberrations, as the LLRC has pointed out.

What is more important in this regard is the need to support the bereaved, through both finding out what happened in cases of uncertainty and also providing psycho-social support as needed. Resources for this latter are woefully inadequate, and we must set in place recruitment and training programmes to fill the gap. We should also realize that, in the modern world, trained counselors are increasingly important, for adolescents as well as in the workplace, so investment in this will be of permanent value.

Finally we must recognize that criticism will continue if we do nothing about problems that have little to do with the conflict, but which will be associated in the international consciousness with supposed aberrations of the conflict period. Along with many other countries, for instance, we have problems about torture, and we are committed to overcoming these. But failure to act some years back led to allegations that torture was also based on racist motives.

There is broad agreement with regard to expediting prison reform (including through adjustments to sentencing policy so as to limit remanding for relatively trivial offences), with regard to strengthening protection for women and children, with regard to enhancing freedom of information. But the confusion caused by different ministries being responsible for similar things, and the general failure to take on responsibility when lethargy is much easier, mean that nothing happens – and this is put down to policy rather than incompetence.

We should realize that, as criticisms mount, such incompetence is also culpable. The consequences for Sri Lanka could be dire.

 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    The sad part is that despite all your good intentions and efforts your boss has a different agenda. He is not in favour of reconciliation as such, only majority rule. There are no minorities he says. LLRC is still to be implemented and same or worse will be the fate of your report. Either you change your boss or change your job

  • 0
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    The clash of extremism won’t lead anywhere. The accusation of war crimes is meaningless. But not because they didn’t happen. Simply the chain of command goes straight to the president and his brother. Unlikely they will be put on trial. Very unlikely. And I understand that we need to find alternative way to restore justice. So it is mandatory to address the issue. For example, recognizing the magnitude of the losses. Don’t accuse anybody, but accept that a tremendous massacre (without culprits) occur. This would be the beginning. Until you’ll be in complete denial about that, what kind of justice or reconciliation can take place???

  • 0
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    Smells like a slight deviation from your prior leanings! How is it that you took so long to come to these conclusions? And what do you have to say about the forced ‘recruitment’ of Tamil women to the army? Part of the ‘rehab’ agenda??

  • 0
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    Definitely the Regime will harp on the Senate, which will be crowded
    with Nespotic selections in the majority and boast about having
    fulfilled 13A! This will be another talk-shop while the Tamils
    in Prisons will remain unsolved. All Tamil Issues will be long debated
    here while impunity in this direction will go on and on – all in
    the name of Reconciliation.

  • 0
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    Are we going to investiagte the mental aberrations of Gota

  • 0
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    Government has not taken any concrete steps either towards national reconciliation or strengthening of democratic governance. There is still a military rule in the North. Youth there are still disappearing. University students are being mercilessly battered for staging protests. The situation in the South is not different either. This government keeps postponing the holding of elections to the Northern PC. Attempts are being made to usurp the powers of PCs through measures like the Divineguma Bill. UPFA-led PCs happily forgo the powers vested in them by the 13th Amendment!. No wonder when Parliament is happy to hand over their powers on finance on a platter to the Executive with a callous regard for a Supreme Court ruling. Why can’t people like Dr. Wijesinha advise the government to repeal the 18th Amendment, enact the Right to Information Bill? None of the Mahadenamuttas backing this regime appears to have advised MR not to become a laughing stock before the international community by taking revenge from the Chief Justice through a sham trial held by a Kangaroo court? We can rest assured that there will no national reconciliation or the rule of the law or even a pretense of democracy as long as this this regime remains in power!

  • 0
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    Babua Sinha,

    “JUSTICE IN DENIAL”

    No public person can be just a little crooked they are crooks. :)

  • 0
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    Poor fellow might get the kick after all the kade going..he he

  • 0
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    Rajiva, you rat,
    Are you preparing to leave the sinking ship in favour of another abode peopled by people like you?
    You people really don’t know the meaning of the word ‘shame” do you?

  • 0
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    Dear Rajiv

    The moment you raised your hand for the 18th Amendment and sold your soul you lost the respect people had for you. No amount of nonsense from you would erase that fact. You will not be forgiven.

  • 0
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    Blue eye Prof.

    You wont give up until you get a ministerial post.

    Good luck.

  • 0
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    Obsession with war crimes is mere madness. Even today Jaffna University students are arrested on charges of suspected linkage with LTTE. Resurrecting LTTE seems to be the preoccupation of MoD (military and even police)for almost any excuse, in this case, to avenge those who took part in commemoration of dead in the war. While the propaganda machine claims the LTTE forcibly recruited children who are in turn arrested and tortured, instead of comforting and rehabilitating them for civilian life.

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