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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Constitutional changes in the offing while AG studies LLRC Report

With the United Nations Human Rights Commission scheduled to open it annual four week session in Geneva on Monday, the government said that Sri Lanka’s legal framework was likely to be changed, depending on the recommendations of the Attorney General, who was in the process of studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Report.

Acting Foreign Minister Neomal Perera told The Island that the LLRC Report which was handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa about three months ago had to be studied in detail by the legal experts and that process had been entrusted to the AG’s Department.

The legal framework had to be changed to accommodate whatever the AG recommends, he said without elaborating on the specifics.

Asked about the US resolution that has been presented to the UNHRC, alleging human rights abuses against the Sri Lankan security forces during the last stages of the war against the LTTE, Perera said that nothing had been done purposely.

“The war was fought in a region where there was no civil administration or regular police force,” he said adding that if any crimes had been committed, they would be inquired into and the due process of law applied.

Priority would also be given to implementing any recommendations aimed at eradicating hatred and anger that had resulted from the war. It was not only edifices that had to be rebuilt, but also the confidence of those who had to face a 30-year trauma, Perera observed.

The US, he said was preaching democracy and human rights to the world, but no proper inquiries had been conducted into the crimes it had committed in various countries.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Commission of Inquiry was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2010 to inquire into the ethnic conflict between 1983 and 2009 and provide recommendations for an era of healing and peace building. After an 18 month inquiry, the Commission submitted its report to the President on November 15, 2011. The report was made public on December 16, 2011, after being tabled in the parliament.

The Commission concluded that the Sri Lankan military didn’t deliberately target civilians but the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, repeatedly violated international humanitarian law. According to the Commission the military gave the “highest priority” to protecting civilians whereas the Tamil Tigers had had “no respect for human life”. It admitted that civilians had been killed by the Sri Lankan military, albeit accidentally, contradicting the government’s line that there were zero civilian casualties. The Commission did however receive some eyewitness evidence alleging abuse by the military which warranted further investigation and if necessary, the prosecution of perpetrators.

It acknowledged that hospitals had been shelled, resulting in “considerable civilian casualties”, but did not say who was responsible for it. The Commission blamed Sinhalese and Tamil politicians for causing the civil war and observed that Sinhalese politicians had failed to offer a solution acceptable to the Tamil people and Tamil politicians fanned militant separatism.

The LLRC which was headed by former Attorney General C.R.de Silva, included Commissioners Rohan Perera,Karunaratne Hangawatte, Chandirapal Chanmugam, H. M. G. S. Palihakkara, Manohari Ramanathan, Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama and M. T. M. Bafiq.


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