Sri Lanka: 21 member National Unity and Reconciliation Commission proposed (excerpts from the draft act)

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We publish below few excerpts from the 31 page draft act (TRCSL Concept Paper)  for establishing a National Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka.

There shall be established a Commission which shall be called and known as the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka (hereinafter in this Act referred to as “the Commission”).

The Commission shall be a body corporate with a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.

21 Members for the commission & 4 on full time basis

The Commission shall consist of 21 members, all of whom shall be citizens of Sri Lanka. The composition of the Commission shall reflect the pluralistic nature of Sri Lanka,
including gender, and all members shall be persons of integrity and credibility appointed on the basis of their knowledge of practical experience in, disciplines relating to law, human rights, humanitarian law, history, social sciences, psychology, post-conflict and reconciliation studies and/or investigation, and may possess other qualifications relevant to the carrying out of functions of the Commission.

The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council.

The Constitutional Council shall recommend three names from among the members of the Commission to the President out of whom the President shall appoint one person as Chairperson of the Commission.

Every member of the Commission shall hold office for three years. Provided where the President extends the term of the Commission as provided under section 9 hereof, the term of office of every member of the Commission shall also be so extended,

The Chairperson and at least 3 other members of the Commission shall work full-time. The Constitutional Council shall designate, which of the members are appointed on full time basis and which of the members shall form the panels of the Commission.

Quorum for meetings is only 3 members

The quorum for meetings or sittings of the Commission shall be 3 members from among members of the Commission, who shall sit as a panel of the Commission
nominated from among its members by the Chairman of the Commission and one of such members of the panel shall be nominated as Chairperson of the Panel by the Chairperson
of the Commission appointed by the President in terms of section 3 above

Independence of the commission 

In the performance of its functions under this Act, the Commission shall be considered an autonomous institution and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority save except to report to parliament and to the Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court under Article 140 and 126 of the Constitution respectively

Investigations

Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or any other written law, a panel of the Commission shall investigate and make recommendations in respect of complaints and reports relating to damage and/or harm caused to persons as a result of loss of life, or damage and/or harm caused to persons or property;

Time frame of investigations 

i) in the course of, or reasonably connected to, or consequent to the conflict;

ii) in connection with political unrest or civil disturbances in Sri Lanka; or

iii) where such damage and/or harm being in the nature of prolonged and grave damage and/or harm suffered by individuals, groups or communities of people of Sri Lanka.
For the purposes of subsection (1) “conflict” means the conflict that took place from on or after July 24, 1983 and prior to May 18, 2009.

The promotion of national unity, peace, rule of law, co-existence, equality with tolerance and respect for diversity, and reconciliation among the people of Sri Lanka, by establishing a truthful, accurate, impartial, complete record of the alleged damage and/or harm caused to persons or property referred to in sub-section (1) hereof;

ii) Investigation and making recommendations in respect of the causes of the alleged damage and/or harm caused to persons or property referred to in subsection (1) hereof to the fullest degree possible, in the interest of prevention of the future occurrence of thereof;

iii) Helping restore the dignity of aggrieved persons by providing an opportunity for them to give an account of the alleged damage and/or harm caused to persons and/or property referred to in sub-section (1) hereof, giving special attention to the experiences of women, children and persons with disability;

Truth Commission 

iv) Providing the people of Sri Lanka with a platform and opportunity for truth telling and relating their narratives, including positive experiences and providing them the necessary protection

Reporting 

The Commission shall submit its Final Report to the President at the expiration of its term containing a comprehensive account of its activities, including its recommendations.

The Commission shall submit interim reports with recommendations prior to the submission of its Final Report, following a sustained period of investigations, at least bi-annually, detailing the work of the Commission and such recommendations. Such Interim Reports shall be submitted to the President.

Immediately upon submitting the Final Report and such Interim Reports as provided for under sub-sections and hereof to the President, the Commission shall publish all such Reports, using print and electronic media, including social media, and shall make copies of the Reports or summaries thereof, widely available to the public in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The Commission shall ensure wide publicity for its recommendations, by involving inter alia, the media.

Within 21 days from the date of receipt of an Interim Report or the Final Report of the Commission in terms of sub-section (1) and (2) hereof, the President shall have such Reports tabled in Parliament.

Recommendations expected

Without prejudice to the generality of section 11(2)(vii) hereof, by its Final Report of the Commission shall make recommendations, including,

Implementation of the recommendations 

Within one month from the date of publication of the first Interim Report and/or the making of interim recommendations by the Commission, the President shall establish a Monitoring Committee to monitor and facilitate the implementation of the Recommendations of the Commission (the Committee) including in respect of any resolution passed by Parliament with regard to such interim recommendations of the Commission. The President shall specify the term of office of the Committee in consultation with the Prime Minister and may renew such term/s as deemed necessary.