30 September, 2020

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Transitional Justice Process Needs To Become More Inclusive 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

A high level delegation of EU officials was in Sri Lanka last week to have meetings with a cross section of society prior to engaging in discussions with their counterparts in the Sri Lankan government. When they met with civil society representatives they said that this was the first joint meeting on issues of human rights with the government and saw this as a positive breakthrough. They also said that they had come to see what had been delivered by the government in terms of the promises it had made. The media release that they issued after a joint EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights concluded its first meeting in Colombo on 21 January 2016 stated that they expected the full implementation of the UN Human Rights Council resolution as a priority.

During the visit of the EU delegation to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said he was confident that Sri Lanka will regain the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) facility during this year. The EU, citing Sri Lanka’s failure to meet human rights conventions relevant for benefits under the scheme, in August 2010, suspended the GSP+ tariff concession for Sri Lanka that provided tax free access to European markets for the country’s products, especially for garment exports which was Sri Lanka’s second largest foreign exchange earner next to worker remittances. This illustrates the holistic dimension of the UN Human Rights Council resolution. It is not only about accountability and war crimes. It is also a matter of employment and the development of the economy.

According to the text of the statement issued by the joint working group which has obtained considerable publicity , “Both sides recognised the full implementation of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution of October 2015 as a priority.” This has been interpreted by the opposition to mean that the government will have to cave in to international pressure and appoint foreigners to sit in judgment over Sri Lankan military commanders and their political masters. The main thrust of the opposition’s campaign amongst the general population is to instill fear that the collaboration of the government with the international community will lead to an erosion of Sri Lankan sovereignty, and that this will ultimately pave the way for the division of the country.

Mixed Signals 

It is in this context that President Maithripala Sirisena appears to have taken to himself the task of reassuring the people that they do not need to fear any threat due to international intervention so long as he is there. The most controversial aspect of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is its provision for the judicial accountability mechanism to have an international component in it. The UNHRC resolution stated that it “affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for integrity and impartiality; and further affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the Special Counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorised prosecutors and investigators.”

In a recent interview to the international media, President Sirisena has said that he will “never agree to international involvement in this matter. We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues.” The President’s statement is likely to be intended to reassure those who are opposed to international decision makers in regard to their involvement in judging the Sri Lankan military on war crimes charges. Members of the international community who have been visiting Sri Lanka recently also seem to be making allowances for these concerns. It was reported that British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire who visited Sri Lanka a fortnight ago had said that the mechanisms would be Sri Lankan but with the required assistance provided by the UN community, and would have to be in place before the UNHRC’s June sessions. In addition, the media release issued by the EU Joint Working Committee stated that “There was an exchange of views on ongoing consultations on the establishment of domestic reconciliation and accountability mechanisms.”

The mixed signals being received on the issue of the implementation of the UNHRC resolution is an indication that the response to it is continuing to evolve. It is not only changing on the part of the Sri Lankan government, it is also changing on the part of the international community. It is important that this evolving situation be explained to the Sri Lankan population as a basic requirement of a democratic society. The government needs to obtain the support of civil society groups to take this message to the larger population. It is often the case that politicians prefer not to take up controversial matters that might make them appear to look weak or compromising as they are afraid they will lose their electoral support. They tend to see voters as being primarily self-interested, and not interested in the concerns of those of other communities.

Public Consultations 

The government has initiated a process of public consultations on the issue of the implementation of the UNHRC resolution. It has appointed an 11 member task force from civil society which is supported by two advisory panels to provide it with expert technical advice and feedback from the general public. Those at the community level are provided with the basic information pertaining to the government’s four-fold mechanism, comprising a truth commission which is supported by a compassionate council of religious clergy, a judicial accountability mechanism, and two permanent offices dealing with reparations and with missing persons. The consultation with the general population brings out their concerns which need to be taken into account to make the transitional process more relevant to the lives of all the people.

The two consultations that I have been so far involved in have brought out two missing dimensions in the ongoing process of ensuring transitional justice. In Anuradhapura those who participated in the discussion brought in the economic aspects and were critical of policies that sought to reduce the concessions to those in the rural areas, such as through the fertilizer subsidy, while at the same time reducing the taxes to those at the higher earning levels. In Badulla, however, another dimension came into focus. This was the sense of neglect of the other ethnic and religious minorities who felt that the entirety of attention is being given the problems of the Tamils of the north and east, to their neglect. Thus, at the Badulla discussion, a representative of the Indian Tamil community said that they too needed to be beneficiaries of the transitional justice process, as they too had suffered mass violation of their human rights, which had yet to be remedied.

Representatives of the Muslim community have likewise expressed their sense of neglect and being marginalized from the discussion of the UNHRC resolution, which needs to include them too as victims of mass violation of their human rights. This is on account of both the mass expulsion they were subjected to from the north in 1990 at the hands of the LTTE, and also the numerous massacres they were subjected to in the east of the country at the hands of the LTTE for which an accountability process is necessary. At a time when they find themselves once again being targeted by Sinhalese nationalist groups such as “Sinha Le” they find it dismaying to be relegated to the periphery of the discussions on transitional justice. At the Badulla discussion there was also a representative of the Sinhalese, a Buddhist monk, who spoke of the people who lived poverty-stricken lives in Uva Wellassa where the massacres of the colonial period took place. The message from Badulla was that the transitional justice process needed to include all the Sri Lankan communities, because each one of them had been victimized in the past, and the memories continue to be living ones in need of truth, justice, healing and reparation with a guarantee of non-recurrence.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    No attempt to bring to justice the previous uneducated filth nor repatriate stolen funds and this is good government?

    • 1
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      Jehan Perera, The urgent priority is to bring a Code of Conduct for corrupt politicians, and then the corrupt Sangha.
      Wjedasa Jarapassa so called Minister of Justice and Avant Gurad man is the most corrupt and now ironically trying to teach the Sangha a lesson! Is this not a joke of the highest order?!

      First we need a Code of Conduct for the most corrupt in the land – Politicians. Then, for the Sangha.

      Not a single corrupt politician has been tried and locked up, by A-Yahapalanay Govt. The culture of IMMUNITY and IMPUNITY for financial crimes continues by Politicians and Jarapassa family and cronies continues. Please tell your EU friends that holding accountable corrupt politicians is the most urgent task.

      The same corrupt SLFP thugs who Sirisena is now cultivating and protecting, including Mahinda Jarapassa and his SLFP cronies, are the spreaders of hate Speech. Many of the CORRUPT SLFP POLITICIANS who entered the Parliament with Sirisena’s backing, use Hate Speech against minorities to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE the moda masses, and support Mahinda Jarapsass covertly.

      Seriously, JP you and your Civil Society jokers need to be a little sharp! Please tell EU to push the regime on cleaning up political corruption which will also be supported by the masses, and start a campaign to hold accountable the CORRUPT POLITICIANS who looted billions from the people of Lanka and end the CULTURE OF IMPUNITY for CORRUPTION.

  • 2
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    Will the British allow independent foreign investigators to examined alleged war crimes in Iraq? Will the US? What are your thoughts on the wilful suppression of the Chilcott report for so long?

    • 0
      2

      Will you allow Britain and America as the tax free exporters to Lanka. Is that you asked from Robert Blake before you used coordinates of the LTTE’s ships and the free army training? All Sinhala Intellectuals always wants to the cake and have it eat too.

  • 2
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    Its better if high level Western delegations visited Libya & Iraq constantly or frequently to put those countries in order.

    Never did the Western Media ever bother to report the destructions & killings, gang rapes committed by the Western militaries.. Instead the Western media has the audacity to berate Sri lanka.
    Its time if you jehan can get some sense or put some in them your Western lackys and in their media.

    • 2
      1

      dickie bird
      Firstly try to clean up your back yard before you try to clean others back yards. It’s a joke , Srilankans think they’re squeaky clean but not realising it’s the sewage of South Asia with all the trade marks of a badly run State .
      This is the problem with you.
      Absolute Frogs in Wells.
      The state run Medias in the past cultivated this culture along with the crooked politicians. The gullible FROGS ONLY READ WHAT WAS DISHED OUT 24/7 of the praise of the dished out lies.
      No power of analysing NOR to stop and think ,then go on the onslaught of abusing the whole world saying all the other countries are liars and beggars except the BELOVED SRILANKA WHERE THE MILK AND HONEY FLOWS., WHERE THERE IS NO OTHER COUNTRY LIKE.

      They do not realise the country is sinking to the bottom in every ways. The kind of culture of impunity and corruption destroys a small country where the country depends only on handouts like World Funds . Super powers need not to fear of their economy because they always bounce back but not the country like Srilanka.
      During the last Regime the Billions borrowed and then was syphoned off by the Politicians left the finances with an empty kit to be paid by the future generations or wait for another TSUNAMI.
      All sounds good in the ears of dickie bird . People like you never stop and think where yours and my country heading to!!

  • 1
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    You can come up with any number of laws. You can form any number of committees. You can institute any number of commissions but SL will continue to spiral downwards.

    What is the difference between the democracy in SL and in Singapore? It was and is the leader. If the head is clean and straight, he will fear no one and he will be more of statesman rather than a politician, a politician whose mind will only be preoccupied with the next election.

    What is Singapore today is largely due to Lee Kuan Yew. There was a time when a close friend, who was also a Minister was investigated for corruption. When he was proven guilty, Premier Lee ensured that he paid for his crime and the Minister was stripped off of his office and was imprisoned. He made it clear that he is a trustee for the people.

    What resources does that country have? Does it have the vast contributions from citizens who send their hard-earned money back to their country? But today it has a reputation as no-nonsense country with an impeccable record. Surprisingly, it was never blessed by Buddha and the triple gem. Even with these SL is at odds with itself. It does not need a Buddha or the triple gem. It needs an honest and capable leader like Lee. That it is not blessed with.

  • 1
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    While you bring up all excuses for the Government for not taking up the new obligation to the UNHRC commitment, you are confirming to the International community your politicians are just careless and not different from the previous regime! Don’t you and your Administrators understand where your Country is headed to. One thing is certain Sri Lanka will not be allowed a unique place different from other neighboring Countries. You are playing into the wrong hands.

  • 1
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    ” At the Badulla discussion there was also a representative of the Sinhalese, a Buddhist monk, who spoke of the people who lived poverty-stricken lives in Uva Wellassa where the massacres of the colonial period took place.

    In Badulla, however, another dimension came into focus. This was the sense of neglect of the other ethnic and religious minorities who felt that the entirety of attention is being given the problems of the Tamils of the north and east, to their neglect. Thus, at the Badulla discussion, a representative of the Indian Tamil community said that they too needed to be beneficiaries of the transitional justice process, as they too had suffered mass violation of their human rights, which had yet to be remedied.

    Representatives of the Muslim community have likewise expressed their sense of neglect and being marginalized from the discussion of the UNHRC resolution, which needs to include them too as victims of mass violation of their human rights. This is on account of both the mass expulsion they were subjected to from the north in 1990 at the hands of the LTTE, and also the numerous massacres they were subjected to in the east of the country at the hands of the LTTE for which an accountability process is necessary.

    Jehan PhD is doing well in wedging between the planks and stirring the pool. He wants to see Tamils split into Tamils into Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils. That is a job continued by Sinhala Intellectuals from Don Stephen, the first dictator of Lankawe. Then he wants to see that between the Muslims and Tamils. Then he is bringing in a saffron clad thug to bring in the claim of colonial time. And of cause, he just can’t forget that LTTE did ethnic cleansing of Muslims. He is too old and having Alzheimer syndrome to remember 1915’s communal trouble which British Governor stopped by putting Sinhala Leaders in prison. Even the very recent one, the Uva Wellassa massacre he did not remember until the Saffron clad thug reminded him. When that was the was case with recent ones,how can he remember about Alluthgama, the old incidents? Only DIG Indren was punished by IGP for his foolish mistakes. But when NPC member Asmin went there, the people had asked where was leader Pirapakaran and said if he was there he would have saved them.” He is still trying to figure out what was the special abort Wellaweria. Even if you remind it, still he can remember who fixed the investigation dates limits to LLRC, which is the one UNHRC picked up for its resolution. If he can rememer he would not be suffering by the SIPD (Sinhla Intellectual PhD Syndrome) and utter all these kunus on the name of a NGO, NPC.

    “In a recent interview to the international media, President Sirisena has said that he will “never agree to international involvement in this matter. We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues.” The President’s statement is likely to be intended to reassure those who are opposed to international decision makers in regard to their involvement in judging the Sri Lankan military on war crimes charges.

    This is what you call hiding the whole pumpkin in a pebble of rice. Jehan PhD and New King are scared to let the Sinhalese know that there is a judgment waiting due for Tamils. But secretly plotting to have it done. That is why the British Mercenary soldier Albert’s son, an accused war criminal is hoping that he will be elevated to Solomon West Ridgway’s star position. This is the exact mirror image of the UN electric chair fame the Old King.

    The truth is these guys are the world’ ultimate crooks. One tells something; other one interpret it to cover it up. Then other one says something the this one cover it up with his/her interpretation. This is how they blamed Junius Richard for the debacle of the Solomon Chelva pact.

    • 1
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      LKG failed autonomous lunatic Mallaiyuran is talking about about Sinhala PHD!

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