The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has released its report and the President has tabled it in Parliament. The members of the commission need to be commended for the time and energy expended and a job well done. Now it is out of their hands.
The report will no doubt provoke cheers and jeers, some warranted and some not, some on account of political and ideological preferences and some out of a sober and reflective consideration of content. All this, we will see in the coming weeks.
While it is not useful to speculate on what academics, politicians, political commenta tors and movers and shakers of the international community will have to say, it might be useful to focus on particular observation by the Commission that could be used as a frame of reference to the politics of report-appraisal. Paragraph 9.120, titled ‘Follow up action on the reports of past Commissions of Inquiry’ strongly recommends ‘the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Appointed to Investigate and Inquire into Alleged Serious Violations of Human Rights Arising since August 2005’.
The Commission refers specifically to the deaths of five students in Trincomalee in January 2006 and 17 aid workers of the ACF in August 2006, and notes that action on these matters would send a strong signal in ensuring respect for the Rule of Law, which it believes ‘would in turn contribute to the healing process’.
I is easy to say in hindsight that had the Government implemented the recommendations at the time it would have preempted a lot of unnecessary invective and warded off resultant pressure. That’s a lesson, though and one which the Government could learn and more importantly apply to the recommendations articulated by the LLRC.
It is good that the President has chosen to place the report in the public domain and not let it gather dust like that controversial but immensely important report of the ‘NGO Commission’ appointed by President Ranasinghe Premadasa. This country, after all, has had its fill of commissions and reports, most of which have served to keep objectors quiet and waiting so that the particular government can safely negotiate the relevant evil hour.
There’s been objection. There’s been waiting. There has been patience, grudging and otherwise. The LLRC was made of eminent persons. Sri Lankans. Its report therefore is home-grown, so to speak. There’s absolutely no excuse to dilly-dally in implementation. The President can and must act on it. It can only increase his stature. There will be whiners, but the applauders will outnumber them.