7. RECOMMENDATIONS: Reaching out to National Reconciliation
One of the fundamental objectives of the seminar was to examine courses of action open to move beyond the UNSG‟s Panel Report in regard to issues of accountability that Sri Lankans must address in moving towards reconciliation.
The seminar noted the action of the GOSL in setting up the LLRC to address these issues. While the seminar was intended to contribute to this overall process it was organized as a civil society initiative. There is a fundamental need to forge the conscience of society that would enable move beyond the human tragedy caused by
the war. Several areas of action in making the process of accountable to the citizens of Sri Lanka arise from the deliberations of the seminar.
a. As noted above the alternate narrative outlined in the course of the seminar in no way resolves the issues of accountability that have arisen out of the war, especially its last stages. Substantive accountability actions are required to move towards the fundamental concern of reconciliation. In this regard it is necessary to undertake concurrently processes that would unfold a full account of the military operation complemented by a
process of listening and investigating stories of victims. The latter should lead to making of adequate reparation.
b. A second area for follow-up action is on the relevance and applicability of the existing humanitarian law and rules of conventional war to extreme situations as in the case of Sri Lanka and the need to redefine the rules of war so as to clarify and enhance rendering of accountability in such situations.
c. Working out the modalities for the application of restorative justice is a third area for follow-up. The scope of the application of restorative justice by the Government is limited, extending only to the LTTE, its cadres and the leaders who have survived and support the government. This is inadequate to unfold all of the circumstances relating to
the last stages of the war. There is a need to recognize the overall tragedy of the war. It requires all parties to the conflict opening up with narratives of their involvement and actions. It is a process that should take place outside of the State apparatus and be led by the religious leadership drawing on the core values of the four religions in Sri Lanka so as to be a meaningful healing experience.
d. A related aspect is the need for self appraisal and acknowledgement of errors and wrongs on the part of all communities. All communities have been the victims of the process of violence and the war and all communities have suffered. It is a truth that has to be recognized with a due sense of contrition by all communities and is the necessary basis for reconciliation.
e. The seminar underlined the importance of a political solution which provides the Tamil community and other minorities with an equitable sharing of power and participation in decision making towards bringing about lasting reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. The Sri Lankan experience in working out “political solutions” has been to either enact laws without a process of consultation or to go through a process of consultation to be eventually rejected as not acceptable to all. It is therefore important to set a framework of guiding principles against which the process and the outcome could be validated and accepted.
f. The seminar considered the relative roles of the state and civil society in guiding the process of reconciliation. There was consensus that both state and civil society must play key roles. Working out the form of an institutional framework in which these different agents from civil society, state and private sector could draw strength and knowledge from each other and contribute towards a better coordinated national movement for
peace and reconciliation is a further area for follow-up.
g. The seminar noted that need for a constructive engagement with the Tamil Diaspora including its hard core elements directed at the long term objective of reconciliation. It would be important for both the government and civil society to work towards opening avenues of communication and facilitating exchanges that enable Tamils overseas to observe, come to impartial appraisals of conditions in Sri Lanka and contribute to the process of reconciliation and reconstruction.
From REPORT OF THE MARGA SEMINAR ON
“ACCOUNTABILITY, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND RECONCILLIATION: REVIEW OF THE REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PANEL OF EXPERTS ON ACCOUNTABILITY IN SRI LANKA – 31 MARCH 2011”