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NewsUN-Sri LankaSteps to establish the four transitional justice mechanisms have taken, Sri Lanka Govt tells UN

Steps to establish the four transitional justice mechanisms have taken, Sri Lanka Govt tells UN

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Image: Then FM Mangala Samaraweera made Commitments to establish comprehensive TJ process at HRC 30.©slb.

The government has taken steps to establish the four transitional justice mechanisms committed to under Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, says  Sri Lanka’s draft National Report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Human Rights to be held in November this year. It also says implies that the draft laws on a truth-seeking mechanism and Office of Reparations has been sent to the Attorney General for vetting for constitutional compliance.

None of these  drafts laws are in public domain and there has been no public discussion on these ‘drafts’.

Here is the relevant paragraph in the UPR submission:  “First, in August 2016, it enacted legislation to establish the Office on Missing Persons. Second, a Working Group comprising senior academics, government officials and transitional justice experts was appointed to draft legislation on a truth-seeking mechanism. The recommendations of the above mentioned CTF were fully considered in the drafting process. Third, a Reparations Technical Committee was appointed to draft legislation on the establishment of an Office  Working DRAFT as at 19 June 2017 of Reparations. The report of the Task Force, and the views of a number of state ministries and public officials with experience in granting reparations were considered in the drafting process. The draft laws on a truth-seeking mechanism and Office of Reparations will be presented to Cabinet once the drafts are vetted by the Attorney General for constitutional compliance.”

Relevant sections 0f the draft report follows:

38. The GOSL co-sponsored UNHRC resolutions 30/1 and 34/1 titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ in September 2015 and March 2017 respectively. The resolutions set out Sri Lanka’s broad commitments to promote reconciliation, ensure accountability for alleged abuses of international human rights law and IHL during the war, and improve the human rights situation in the country.

The constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) form part of the substance of the resolutions. The LLRC report was also a core document in the formulation of the NHRAP 2017-2021. Hence the government has sought to implement the recommendations of the LLRC via the fulfilment of its commitments under the resolution and the action points in the NHRAP.

The resolutions specifically commit to the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms including an Office on Missing Persons, a truth-seeking commission, an Office on Reparations, and a special court with independent counsel.

39. Sri Lanka established three new agencies namely, the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation (MNIR) with H.E. the President as the Minister, the Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, and the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) as an agency of the MNIR, to spearhead programmes to usher in unity and reconciliation in the country. In consultation with the two relevant Ministries, the ONUR developed a draft National Policy on Reconciliation through a one-year process of consultations with multiple stakeholders, and through revisiting previous national initiatives on reconciliation including the LLRC’s report.

The Policy provides direction to the process of reconciliation in the country, and steers all  Working DRAFT as at 19 June 2017 stakeholders working on reconciliation towards a uniform and coherent approach to national reconciliation. Consequent to a joint Cabinet Memorandum submitted by H.E. the President as the Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, and the Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Policy for adoption in May 2017. ONUR, in collaboration with state and private media, and through social media, has meanwhile commenced a nationwide media campaign to foster the vision of a plural and inclusive Sri Lanka.

40. In December 2015, the government established the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) under the Prime Minister’s Office to ensure that the commitments under UNHRC Resolution 30/1 are met. The SCRM was tasked with the design and facilitating implementation of the government’s transitional justice mechanisms, and also serves to facilitate and provide support to achieving the nonrecurrence agenda via ONUR.

41. Since its establishment, SCRM has entered into partnerships with the UN Country Team to ensure that international best practices are adopted in the design of the reconciliation mechanisms in Sri Lanka. These partnerships include those with UNDP, OHCHR, UN DPA, IOM, UNICEF, and UN Women. A Peace-building Priority Plan was accordingly formulated to provide support to actionable areas in the government’s reconciliation agenda. The SCRM is currently engaged with the UN in finalising the monitoring and evaluation components of the Plan in addition to finalising the concept notes which have been developed in close coordination with key government
stakeholders and UN agencies.

42. A high-level Steering Committee on Reconciliation was established to provide overall direction to all activities concerned with reconciliation and non-recurrence in Sri Lanka. The Chairperson of ONUR, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike
Kumaratunga, chairs this Committee, and the Secretary General of the SCRM serves as the convenor of the Committee.

43. In January 2016, the government also appointed a Consultation Task Force (CTF) on processes relating to reconciliation and transitional justice. The CTF comprised reputed civil society representatives and was assisted by a Committee of Experts, and a Representatives Committee, which connected the task force to relevant stakeholders. The CTF carried out nationwide consultations and received over 7,000 submissions. Its final report was presented to government in January 2017, and is being considered in the process of preparing draft legislation to establish transitional justice mechanisms.

44. The government has taken steps to establish the four transitional justice mechanisms committed to under Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. First, in August 2016, it enacted legislation to establish the Office on Missing Persons. Second, a Working Group comprising senior academics, government officials and transitional justice experts was appointed to draft legislation on a truth-seeking mechanism. The recommendations of the above mentioned CTF were fully considered in the drafting process. Third, a Reparations Technical Committee was appointed to draft legislation on the establishment of an Office  Working DRAFT as at 19 June 2017 of Reparations. The report of the Task Force, and the views of a number of state ministries and public officials with experience in granting reparations were considered in
the drafting process. The draft laws on a truth-seeking mechanism and Office of Reparations will be presented to Cabinet once the drafts are vetted by the Attorney General for constitutional compliance.

45. The government has also sought to promote reconciliation through short and medium term confidence building measures in the areas of land, education, livelihoods, language and psychosocial support. Many of these measures were in fact recommended by the LLRC.

46. The release of private land occupied by the military is another major priority of the government. 24,336.25 acres of private land have been released since the end of the war in 2009, out of which 4,190.58 acres have been released since January 2015. A total of 6051.36 acres of private land occupied by the military remain to be released.

Excerpts from Sri Lanka’s draft National Report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Human Rights

 

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