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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Armed forces to be withdrawn from community life

The government, which tabled the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report in Parliament yesterday, said the armed forces would be withdrawn from all aspects of community life.
House Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva tabled the two-volume report and highlighted its salient points. He said the armed forces would disengage themselves from civil administration, and in particular, from any decision making aspects in respect of land issues.

“Security forces will be deployed as appropriate in all parts of the island, including the Northern and Eastern Provinces. However, now that normalcy has been re-established, it will be the deliberate policy of the government to ensure the withdrawal of armed forces from all aspects of community life,” he said.

Mr. Silva said the police, well versed in the Tamil language would be strengthened to deal with law and order situations.

“As a means of enhancing effectiveness in this regard, units of the Attorney General’s Department will be set up in the provinces to provide guidance to the police with regard to procedure,” he said.

Referring to the LLRC report, he said the government places particular emphasis on the need to end the use of unauthorised weapons. In this case, he said the relevant recommendations in the report would be acted upon.

“Whenever there is evidence related to the possession of illegal weapons, raids will be conducted on the basis of a policy of zero tolerance. The President has directed the defence authority to keep him informed of progress,” Mr. Silva said and added that the government would give serious thought to the LLRC recommendation that there should be willingness on the part of political parties to give up adversarial politics and instead resort to consensual decision-making on national issues.

He said the LLRC was of the opinion that the protection of civil life was a key factor in carrying out military operations, and that the deliberate targeting of civilians formed no part of this policy.

Mr. Silva said military operations were carried out on a professional basis, but if there was evidence of transgression by individuals, it would be examined.

With regard to the Channel 4 video footage, the Commission had referred to troubling technical and forensic questions of a serious nature that cast serious doubts about the authenticity of the footage. As a result, the Commission recommends that an independent investigation be carried out to clear such doubts.

Mr. Silva said it was important to have the truth ascertained and thus put the controversy to rest for all time.

“The government has asserted clearly on many occasions that if reliable evidence is found in respect of contravention of the law, the law of the land will be applied,” he said and vowed to take punitive action if any wrongdoing was found. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)


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