Sri Lanka Brief
FeaturesNewsThe expired ‘new’ report .

The expired ‘new’ report .

The report of the ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ (LLRC) was presented by the government to Parliament last Friday. The government has opened its ‘magic box’ which it claimed had answers to all the accusations that were levelled against it during the two-and-a-half year period since the end of the war. However, this has been exposed before society as just an empty box that could not perform any tricks.

The only trump card the government held as an answer to the international accusations regarding the conduct of the security forces during the war was the LLRC. What the government expected from the LLRC was not to learn any lessons or for reconciliation but to create a strong reply to the international community.

Setting up such commissions after the end of civil wars is not a novel experience. The ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ established after the end of the civil war in South Africa was one such commission. This commission was not an answer to the international community, instead it was a means of discovering ways to minimize animosity and erase mistrust.

 However, the LLRC was set up to show the world that a local mechanism exists for the process of accountability. This was a counter measure to the threat faced by the government of an international mechanism being set up with the direct involvement of the UN or the International Human Rights Council.

In such a situation, compiling an incomplete report that merely brushes the surface of a civil war that existed for more than three decades is a very risky move. Incomplete conclusions and incomplete proposals that are arrived based on incomplete information would complicate the issue further. In such a situation, the stand the government took stating the Darusman commission report was unilateral would have no validity. It is no coincidence that such pathetic destinies are met when answers (not solutions) for issues are sought not for exploration, examination and implementation but to please or deceive others.

The Commission showed inadequate qualities from its inception. The commission was not assigned to review the separatism that was active militarily for more than 30 years or local factors and historical conditions that influenced its birth. On the other hand the commission did not have as its objective to review the contributions from neighbouring India towards the activities of separatist forces. The commission had to review only incidents that occurred during the period from the signing of the cease-fire agreement to the end of the war. Here too they were expected just to scratch the surface without going into the depth of socio-economic-political factors that influenced the war.

There were accusations that the functioning of the commission from May 2010 to May 2011 did not create opportunities for a broad section of the masses to express their views. There were charges that sufficient time was not given when evidence was recorded from the people in the North and the East and certain political groups affiliated to the government threatened those who came forward to give evidence before the commission.

The government has not been able to establish civil administration in the North. The commission of the government too has not realized this situation or it has been careful not to embarrass the government by exposing it.

The commission that has made a very meek suggestion of investigating the EPDP, a faction of the government, is insensitive to the government’s political pressure applied in suppressing the public opinion in the North and denying political rights to other parties. The commission expresses its satisfaction for the withdrawal of emergency regulations but does recognise that this act has been nullified due to the continuation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). As the commission has made the period of war its field of inquiry it, like a man walking with closed eyes at noon, avoids suggesting any solutions for issues of the disappeared and those who are detained under the PTA.   

As such, it is futile to judge or consider proposals of the report as good or bad ones. For, the commission has been unable not only to find solutions for the challenging task of reconciliation between communities which it was named for, but has not even been able to question acts that hinder reconciliation process such as the undemocratic administration of the government and non-establishment of good governance. 

Most of the recommendations of the commissions are what the government should have done before. According to today’s expression they are ‘expired’ goods. The government should contain the risk of marketing ‘expired goods’ internationally and locally. This is the challenge the government will have to face when the report is presented as an ‘answer.’


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