24 September, 2020

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The UNHRC Report: Making Devolution Futuristic

By Chamindry Saparamadu

Chamindry Saparamadu

The most recent Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachele, released on March 20th 2019 makes some vital observations regarding the progress made by Sri Lanka in the implementation of the Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 in promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights between October 2015 and January 2019.

While the High Commissioner notes with appreciation the introduction of a new institutional architecture to take the Transitional Justice processes forward through the establishment of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation and the Office of Missing Persons by Act No. 14 of 2016 as well as the enactment of new laws such as the Enforced Disappearances Act in March 2018, her failure to mention the importance of making the existing institutions, such as the Provincial Councils, considered vital to achieve reconciliation, functional is a cause for serious concern.

The High Commissioner underscores the importance of developments in the Constitutional Reforms process, albeit in a limited way, by the continuation of the political dialogue and the tabling of a Panel of Experts Report by the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly in January 2019, towards a political settlement and devolution. However, the importance of making devolution meaningful and a living reality seems to have missed her attention. The legal terms of Six of the Provincial Councils expired late last year, including that of the Northern Provincial Council, which have all been brought under the control of the respective Governors, who are appointed by the President, at his sole discretion. There is, at present, not even a discussion on when the elections to such Provincial Councils would be held and the people in the respective provinces would get the opportunity to exercise their right to elect their councilors.

I see two main problems here. The first being, the serious undermining and/or the erosion of the right to franchise of the Sri Lankan people, as enshrined in and guaranteed by Article 3 and Article 4 of the Constitution as well as a reversal of the devolution debate in Sri Lanka. Needless to reiterate that Sri Lanka’s devolution debate has hitherto been based on province as the primary unit of devolution. Discussions on state reforms, including that of the most recent Constitutional Reforms process, have focused on further power devolution to the province as a meaningful political solution to the national question, a fundamental plank in the reconciliation agenda. .

As such, the non-holding of elections to the Provincial Councils, and denying the people of the provinces the right to elect their representatives, in my view, constitute a serious regression in the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Agenda, which seems to have rather disturbingly missed the attention of the High Commissioner. Emphasizing on new laws and new institutions, the High Commissioner is presenting a futuristic vision for devolution and reconciliation. But I think it is much more important to make devolution of power a living reality for the people for achieving reconciliation and for meeting people’s aspirations and needs on the ground according to the principle of subsidiarity, which requires that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen. .

Such lapses on the part of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, underlines the importance of United Nations Offices holding more inclusive consultations with diverse stakeholders in preparing their country reports.

*The author Chamindry Saparamadu, is a Lawyer and an International Development Specialist having extensive work experience in the area of democratic governance with a multitude of international organizations including the United Nations. She served as the Head of the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Colombo from 2014-2016 and as a Member of the Panel of Advisors to Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Assembly from 2016-2019. Chamindry holds a Master of Arts Degree in International Development with Distinction from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    In Lanka , as long our politicians (elected by the retarded public) are concerned, none of this really matters to them. Because they have more important things to take care like bribe, money making, kick backs, back stabbing, horse trading, —–etc. These legalities are only for lawyers, constitutional experts and students in learning . Politicians may get interested, only when they are forced to find loop holes, give excuses or violate what was agreed. So do not waste time.

  • 3
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    Yes, Yes, Sarath Silva CJ also said the same thing while going home (gedera yana gamang).

  • 1
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    Qualifications at the end tells everything. Who funds your present organization ?

  • 3
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    The best devolution is handover the North to Army. They develop poor Tamil villages and others move to South. See what has happened to TNA and to Wigneswaran. This time nothing came for them from UNHCR. Even The International community doe snot like the word GENOCIDE

    • 3
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      It is not a question of likes or dislikes- It is a question of fact.And the fact is there was genocidal killings similar to Jews in the hands of the Germans. To day Jews are considered an ‘atom’ of might. Similar ‘atoms’ can erupt from the Tamils too with the passage of time, unless matters are solved to their satisfaction early.

      • 1
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        Don’t please insult the Jewish people by comparing the Tamils to the Jewish people. Nor must you mock the enormous tragedy the Jewish people faced in the form of a well proven genocide, by comparing what happened in Sri Lanka to what happened in Nazi Germany and other Nazi occupied territories. Tamils are masters of lies and treachery. It was the LTTE who was holding the Tamils by force as human shields and not letting the Tamils come to safety. The Srilankan government stopped the offensive twice and gave two humanitarian ceasefires in the middle of the war for the LTTE to let the civilians come to safety. But the LTTE didn’t let the civilians go. After 10 years you people have still not been able to put together a credible list of the socalled genocided Tamils. What is proven is that the Tamils did come out of the war zone, and was taken care by the government and the army, and is now resettled. If there were isolated incidents of rogue elements in the army who had killed innocent Tamils, that is extremely bad and they must be punished, but that doesn’t amount to genocide.

        • 1
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          If you are prepared to hold an international inquiry, enough and more evidence will be placed and you too will be shocked.No wonder you don’t want such inquiry.

      • 3
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        Also, if you want to compare the Tamils and Jews – the Jewish people didn’t get to establish a state or a homeland in Germany where they have lived longer than the Tamils have in this island. The Jews were given their original homeland Israel back by the UN and any Jewish person can return to Israel if he/she wishes. That is what should be done here too – Tamilnadu must be officially declared the homeland of Tamils and Tamils must be given the right to return if they wish. We cannot establish a separate state for the Tamils in this island, mainly because it will not be a solution, because there are no natural boundaries to keep the Sinhalese and Tamil states apart and full scale war will erupt sooner or later, when the Tamils want to grab more land, also the area Tamils want to establish their state has enormous sentimental, cultural and historical importance to the Sinhalese. There will be constant disputes and a war situation, precisely like the Israel and Palestine situation. Also it will be so unfair to the Sinhalese to lose almost half of our island and give it to the Tamils, when there is another more just and natural alternative, that is the original Tamil homeland just across the ocean. It will be a win-win situation for everybody. Tamils will have the freedom of choice – the Tamils who are unhappy here will have the right to relocate to Tamilnadu, while the Tamils who want to stay with the Sinhalese and live like our brothers and sisters, can stay with us and live peacefully here sharing this island, which will be the home of all of us, without the unhappy troublemakers constantly calling for conflict and war.

  • 5
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    In the second paragraph Chamindry Saparamadu has the ‘appreciative’ notes by UNHRC regarding SL.
    Pessimists may say, “These may well be ‘tongue-in-cheek’….”.
    The pessimists know that these ‘instruments’ are ways of ‘buying time’.
    These simply cannot work in an atmosphere in which ‘reconciliation’ is equated to ‘separation’ by one of the teams competing to hold the reins of power.
    In SL, those who hold the reins of power indulge in ‘Culture’ of corruption/nepotism/impunity which in turn breaks down to smithereens, ‘Law & Order’.
    The UNHCHR sessions have become a SL election husting.
    .
    We appreciate the good intentions of Chamindry.
    There has got to be change in heart in our leaders, rated ‘bad’ by layLankans.
    Can the Constitutional Council of SL about this? No no……..

  • 5
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    “As such, the non-holding of elections to the Provincial Councils, and denying the people of the provinces the right to elect their representatives, in my view, constitute a serious regression in the Human Rights,”
    ————
    The White Supremacists who claim that they are the saviors of democracy and human rights do not think it that way. If Mahinda Rajapakse did that, they would have come running with their tails up to condemn him but when their buddy does that it is a part of ‘Good Governance’. Has any of those guys who talked about saving democracy after Ranil was removed from PM post uttered a single word about not holding PC elections? Probably, Ranil is carrying out their advice.
    ———-
    Native Americans say ‘White people talk with a forked tongue’.

  • 3
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    AKD, the leader of Jathiya Vinashakarana Peramuna came out with the 20th Amendment to scrap EP. In fact, what he should have done was to come out with a proposal to scrap PCs because, in 1988 the leader of JVP led a terrorist campaign against PCs. Due to that, nearly 60,000 Sinhala youths lost their lives thanks to ‘Batalanda Wadakaya’.
    Although members of the Unpatriotic National Party keep on referring to Mattala airport and Hambantota harbor as White Elephants, the real White Elephant in this country is PCs. The cost effectiveness of PCs is very low and just wasting people’s money. The current situation shows that things keep on moving without PCs. So why the hell the tax payers have to keep on fattening a set of useless politicians.
    ————
    Low caste Demala people in the North will be the happiest if NPC dominated by Wellala elites is scrapped. They told not to give Land and Police powers to NPC because of the fear that Wellala elites will use those powers to further oppress low caste people.

    • 5
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      Eagle Blind Eye with Birds Brain

      “In fact, what he should have done was to come out with a proposal to scrap PCs because, in 1988 the leader of JVP led a terrorist campaign against PCs.”

      Alright they have changed their mind.
      They have seen the benefits of running PCs, perks, job for the boys, ….

      Was it Sinhala terrorism, Sinhala/Buddhist terrorism or simply a Sinhala/Buddhist terrorism of the fascists?

      • 2
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        Native Vedda,
        This country experienced Sinhala Buddhist terrorism of fascist Wijeeweera (JVP) and Demala Hindu and Christian terrorism of fascist Prabhakaran (LTTE).

        • 4
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          Blind eye

          What about the state terrorism of sinhala buddhist government

          • 0
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            praba,
            There is no State terrorism. As a Government it mobilized its armed forces to eliminate a barbaric Demala terrorist group led by megalomaniac Pol Pot of Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran. Those Army personal saved the lives of thousands of Demala people.
            ———
            You can call what IPKF did as Indian State terrorism. They only killed whereas Sri Lankan Armed Forces saved the lives and liberated innocent Demala people from the clutches of LTTE barbarians.

  • 0
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    Who was Lawyer—, they knew what is wrong, and what is right, now I don’t want talk about ( UNO) – one Srilanka President talk about about Srilankan army, but in , but his bad time when he was in Jaffna , in – 1987, taken by Tigers, ( for punishment) , there was god, he had escaped from, Jaffna, , later passed in Colombo, there were good people and bad peoples in Srilanka, we wait and see about Srilankan government new parliament,

  • 1
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    “See I told you so”. These wordings do not matter to our politicians. Today Harsha, Marappana, Sarath Amunugama, Wimal, Raghavan and Mahinda Samarasinga, all have come out disagreeing with the agreement they just agreed upon. Our ex PM MR denied what he agreed to Sushma soon after she boarded the plane back to India.JR disagreed with what he signed with RG. MR denied what he agreed with Ban ki Moon . So lying and deception are routine with Lankans. How do you think we survived this many years ????? Your article was based on an agreement and the wordings when there is no agreement at all according to our Lankan shit heads. So it is a waste of time discussing on “fine tuning when there is nothing to tune”. How many agreements, pacts, commissions and Omissions we had seen in the past. Let me ask you , being a member of the advisory panel of Lankas constitutional assembly what is your opinion on our constitution. Is it worth enough to pack “bath parcels” ??????

  • 4
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    It was India which was behind the scenes inflencing the decsion making process of UN by extending the Implementaion period by 2 years. . India already has a widespread presence in Sri Lanka by enforcing the Covenant as the FREEHOLD owner of Sinhala Lanka. It was under MR that the UN passed all the Resolutions which we are taliking about and it was RW”s conciliatory tone ( to fool the UN) which has put things on hold. As a price India has demanded the Implemenation of 13th Amendment which will Unite North & East as one Fedreral Structure. and all the Sinkalams can go to hell. Devolution is round the corner. GOTHA a& MR undestand what Indian Summer means as they were forced to have Provincial Election which brought Wiggy as CM. Under pressue MS appinted a Tamil( Half) as the Governer and he has been a BEACON of HOPE with Wiggy. It was under MR that India opened a Consul Office recognizing North as a seperate entity. The question is DEVOLUTION not IF but WHEN. The election of he CRIMINAL Gotha as the President and the Street Fighter THUG MR as PM and Basil the THIEF as the Treasurer taking stock of the Nations depleted Assets an how much more he can steal. What a mouth watering Prospect.
    I appeal to all the ( 22 Million RACISTS) elect GOTHA, MR & BASIL to the THRONE and have a CORONATION and we would have reached the promised land without waiting another 2 years

  • 0
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    Again a “told you so” moments ( I am sure plenty more of this to come). Today Madam Bachle has given a statment saying she stands by what she said. And the Lankan government is lying and trying to distort facts. (as usual) . Who is number one culprit in doing so ??? none other than our Northern government agent (not governor) Ra Ra Raghavan who has joined the SHIT HEAD list. Way to go DOCTORATE in lying and deception. MS comes out today swinging his shaving razor blade stating “”I will not allow to implement the recommendations”

  • 1
    0

    Chamindry

    Have you entertained the notion, that the UN Human Rights commissioner is actually NOT interested in devolution of power within Sri Lanka?

    Rather, her objective – perhaps from other motives than human rights protection – is to divide the island to 2 countries? Hence devolution is a moot point for her (and perhaps for all those in the Ealam lobby paying the campaigns of certain politicians in Canada and UK etc.).

    • 0
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      Chamindry Sapamadum, who is paying your salary? Is it another NGO set up to destabilise this country? You seem to be concerned that the UN Human Rights Commissioner has not taken up the matter of devolution in the way the separatist elements want it. Already there is enough devolution of powers given by the 13A sans State lands and Police powers. By 13A there is already a semi federal system operating here. Giving State lands is going to be a disaster, and giving Police powers is even more dangerous. Tamil politicians want more and more power as a stepping stone for separation. With the powers already given what has Wignewaran lead Northern Provincial Council done to the innocent Tamil people in the North. The funds allocated have been under-utilised, and these funds are coming from the Sinhalese in the South. Tamil Nadu fishermen are stealing our fishing resources, but at any time has the NPC’s Chief Minister raised his voice against it? NO!! Why don’t you dwell on this aspect. With genocidal attacks on the Sinhalese, the Tamil separatists have already established a mono-ethnic region for themselves. What reconciliation is possible with an ultra-racist Chief Minister in the North? From day one he was on a collision course with the government. Can anyone ever have reconciliation with people with such mindset. First these human rights activists, meddlesome Western countries and the UN controlled by them must preach reconciliation to those seeking to divide the country. It cannot be a one way process.
      Tamil politicians and also NGO activits want a solution to a “national problem’, but they have not said what this national problem is. Tamils so unjustly ask for federalism to solve the ‘problems’ of the Tamils, but will it ever be solved. They are asking for sweeping powers only for a minute percentage of the population of only 7% in a landmass of 1/3 of the country whereas half the Tamil population live among the Sinhalese.

  • 0
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    why America is not with UNHRC.

  • 0
    0

    Chamindry Sapamadum, who is paying your salary? Is it another NGO set up to destabilise this country? You seem to be concerned that the UN Human Rights Commissioner has not taken up the matter of devolution in the way the separatist elements want it. Already there is enough devolution of powers given by the 13A sans State lands and Police powers. By 13A there is already a semi federal system operating here. Giving State lands is going to be a disaster, and giving Police powers is even more dangerous. Tamil politicians want more and more power as a stepping stone for separation. With the powers already given what has Wignewaran lead Northern Provincial Council done to the innocent Tamil people in the North. The funds allocated have been under-utilised, and these funds are coming from the Sinhalese in the South. Tamil Nadu fishermen are stealing our fishing resources, but at any time has the NPC’s Chief Minister raised his voice against it? NO!! Why don’t you dwell on this aspect. With genocidal attacks on the Sinhalese, the Tamil separatists have already established a mono-ethnic region for themselves. What reconciliation is possible with an ultra-racist Chief Minister in the North? From day one he was on a collision course with the government. Can anyone ever have reconciliation with people with such mindset. First these human rights activists, meddlesome Western countries and the UN controlled by them must preach reconciliation to those seeking to divide the country. It cannot be a one way process.

    Tamil politicians and also NGO activits want a solution to a “national problem’, but they have not said what this national problem is. Tamils so unjustly ask for federalism to solve the ‘problems’ of the Tamils, but will it ever be solved. They are asking for sweeping powers only for a minute percentage of the population of only 7% in a landmass of 1/3 of the country whereas half the Tamil population live among the Sinhalese. How is this so-called national problem or national question apply to this other 50%.

    I would like to advise you, Chamindry, not to create more problems for this beleaguered nation; a nation that has suffered immensely at the hands of invaders and separatist elements in the annals of its long history.

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