Sri Lanka should implement several key measures contained in a report by a commission which studied lessons to be learnt from a recent civil war, some of which can be done without delay, a civil organization of professionals has said.
Sri Lanka’s Organization of Professional Association, a civil society organization said a report by Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had come up with many good recommendations to promote good governance and ethnic reconciliation.
“The LLRC also had time to examine and deliberate on the issues that they took up for their consideration and therefore we could accept them as adequately studied proposals that would address may of the issues that have been highlighted,” the OPA said in a statement.
The LLRC was set up after the end of a 30-year war between Tamil separatists and the Sri Lankan state. However there had also been two armed uprisings by mainly enthic Sinhalese militants, since the island gained self-determination from British rule.
Though some measures may need deliberation, the OPA said others could be implemented immediately.
“The OPA considers that the implementation of the first group of recommendations could be initiated without delay,” the civil society organization said.
“The OPA also considers that the Government should make a strong and determined effort to the LLRC recommendation.”
The OPA said the administration should give priority to proposals to re-start judicial review of legislation, re-establish independent public service commissions, strengthen judicial independence and enact a right to information law.
The OPA said an independent public service commission, a police commission, an elections commission, a judicial services commission, a human rights commission and a commission to investigate bribery and corruption should be established.
Sri Lanka’s civil service commission, and the institution of permanent secretary, which was the lynchpin of an independent public service was destroyed by two constitutions enacted in 1972 and 1978.
An attempt to re-establish the independence of the public service, rule of law and justice, through a series of constitutional commissions was also scuttled by a recent amendment to the constitution.
One of the origins of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict was a ‘law’ which made one language spoken by a sections of citizenry superior to others, in violation of section 20 of the then constitution.
The OPA also said that the constitutional provisions on official languages should be fast-tracked, information on those in custody should be given to immediate relatives, illegal groups should be dis-armed and legal ownership of land should be given to re-settled refugees.
The OPA said the quick implementation of the recommendations would also end accusations especially from foreign critics about delaying tactics and a lack of commitment by the administration.
Sri Lanka’s civil organizations were largely inactive following independence from British rule and watched in the sidelines while elected rulers changed constitutions, enacted discriminatory laws and the independence of the public service was destroyed leading to the gradual erosion of rule of law, justice and freedoms.