Colombo Telegraph

We Are Pleased Navi Pillay Was Able To Witness Sri Lanka’s Reconciliation Process

By Manisha Gunasekera

Manisha Gunasekera

24th session of the Human Rights Council – Agenda Item 3 , Statement at the ID with the SR on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-recurrence

Mr. President,

The delegation of Sri Lanka thanks the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence Mr. Pablo de Grieff for his Report (A/HRC/24/42), and takes note of the range of information presented based on different models of transitional justice.

We note the SR’s assertion that while the past two decades have witnessed a steady increase in the establishment and use of various truth-seeking mechanisms, they, in particular state-sanctioned commissions can be important instruments for the redress of violations when implemented in a comprehensive manner.  The SR also notes that given the significant expansion of the commissions beyond fact finding, they find it increasingly difficult to satisfy growing expectations. We concur that the expansion of commission mandates without coherence, specificity and clarity, does not help in achieving reconciliation.

We welcome the SR’s recommendation that truth commissions adopt a gender-based approach, and his highlighting the funding aspect in the functioning of commissions, the latter being an often overlooked fact.

Mr. President,

As a country that has experienced and emerged from a protracted terrorist conflict which lasted three decades, Sri Lanka has consistently upheld the position that the approach of each state to reconciliation be context-specific, taking into account the particularities of each state and the aspirations of its people.  In this regard, the Government of Sri Lanka has undertaken a harmonious and holistic approach to reconciliation, taking into consideration a range of cross-cutting issues including resettlement, housing, land, rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants including former child soldiers, democratisation, accountability, demilitarisation, demining, infrastructure development, livelihood development, education, vocational training, trauma and psycho-social counselling, support for female-headed households and war widows, the trilingual policy, etc.  These actions initiated shortly after the ending of the terrorist conflict in May 2009 are presently being continued in the context of the National Plan of Action for the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC, in a time bound manner.  In July 2013 the Government added 53 more recommendations of the LLRC for implementation. 

This reconciliation process is also well integrated into the country’s governance system through the wide network of line Ministries and Agencies.  For example, the implementation of the identified recommendations of the LLRC through the National Plan of Action fall within the purview of over 20 line Ministries ranging from, Defence, Public Administration,  Justice,  Land, Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Education, National Languages and Social Integration, to Culture and Arts and Sports.

Mr. President,

We have briefed the Council on a regular basis on progress in the different facets of the reconciliation process detailed above, including under Item 2 – General Debate of the current session.

We are pleased that the High Commissioner was able to witness first-hand this multi-faceted nature of Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process during her recent visit, and uphold the progress already achieved.

We look forward to the visit of the Special Rapporteur on IDPs in December this year to review progress in resettlement, and to a visit by the SR on Education in the future.  We remain committed to continuing our engagement with the Council, as well as sharing best practices.

In conclusion, Mr. President,

We highlight the need to adopt a pragmatic, context specific approach in addressing issues of transitional justice.

Thank you

*Manisha Gunasekera -Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva  

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