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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sri Lanka govt’s Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation Commission Bill gazetted

Image: war victims have already rejected the government   move to establish a local mechanism without international participation. (file photo)

(The Morning) The Bill to establish the Commission for Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation, the proposed truth seeking mechanism, has been gazetted.

The Commission shall consist of no less than seven members and not more than 21 members, all of whom shall be Sri Lankan citizens. 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 and practical experience in the disciplines relating to the law, human rights, and humanitarian law, history, the social sciences, psychology, investigations, post-conflict studies and reconciliation. The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council.

The Commission shall investigate, inquire, and make recommendations in respect of complaints or allegations or reports relating to the damage or harm caused to persons or property, the loss of life or the alleged violation of human rights anywhere in Sri Lanka, which were caused in the course of, or reasonably connected to, or consequent to the conflict which took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during the period from 1983 to 2009, or its aftermath.

The mandate of the Commission includes the following: Establishing a truthful, accurate, impartial, and complete record of the above; to investigate and make recommendations in respect of the causes of the above; to help restore the dignity of aggrieved persons by providing an opportunity for them to give an account of the above; providing the people with a platform and opportunity for truth telling and relating their narratives; recommending the ways and means of effective remedies for aggrieved persons and diverse reparation measures in respect of them, including by the referral of matters to the Office for Reparations; making recommendations with regard to institutional, administrative and legislative policy and resource allocation measures that should be taken or introduced to prevent, and ensure the non-recurrence of the above; investigating and making recommendations in respect of the above allegations including acts or omissions that resulted in the arbitrary deprivation of human life or any attempt thereto, extrajudicial killings, assassinations and mass murders, acts of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, sexual violence, and the abuse and exploitation of persons, abduction, hostage taking, and enforced disappearances, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, fact finding in respect of the alleged corruption and the intentional misuse of equipment and financial resources in relation to the conflict which took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces that contributed to the loss of life or the grave risk of the loss of life of persons, fact finding in respect of the incidence of the recruitment of children into armed groups connected with the conflict which took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces or its aftermath, fact finding in respect of the allegations of the forcible transfer or displacement of persons or populations within Sri Lanka, fact finding in respect of the allegations of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of property, whether temporary or permanent, inquiry into the existence, if any, of practices that have led to discriminatory treatment or the violations of individual rights based on religion, ethnicity, gender, place of origin, political opinion, language or caste, inquiry into whether any of the alleged violations and abuses referred to above were committed as a part of systemic crimes, and making findings in regard to those responsible for the commission of the alleged violations and abuses referred to above including those who advised, planned, directed, commanded or ordered such atrocities, making recommendations regarding schemes to empower affected communities by providing peace building and conflict transformation and livelihood training opportunities by those qualified to do so, and making recommendations regarding the non-recurrence of, and addressing the root causes.

The Commission’s recommendations shall not be deemed to be a determination of the civil or criminal liability of any person. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979 or any other law, it shall be lawful for the Attorney General to institute criminal proceedings in a designated court of law in respect of any offence based on the material collected in the course of an investigation or inquiry or both, as the case may be, by the Commission established under this Act. The Parliament may take cognisance of the recommendations of the Commission and pass such a resolution it may consider necessary to promote national unity and reconciliation.

Provisions for victims and witnesses including reparations, and medical and psycho-social support have also been included.

in one month from the date of publication of the first interim report or the making of the 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 Morning Sri Lanka 

Read the gazette here : reconciliation gazette 432-2024_E

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