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Short-Term Benchmarks for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka

Short-Term Benchmarks for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka

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Published by Sanjana Hattotuwa
Short-Term Benchmarks
for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka, published by the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Short-Term Benchmarks
for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka, published by the Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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Published by: Sanjana Hattotuwa on May 30, 2012
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Short-TermBenchmarksforPeaceandReconciliationinPost-WarSriLankaCentreforPolicyAlternatives|May2012
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Short-TermBenchmarksforPeaceandReconciliationinPost-WarSriLanka
ByBhavaniFonseka,LuwieGaneshathasan&MirakRaheemCentreforPolicyAlternatives
30May2012
 
Short-TermBenchmarksforPeaceandReconciliationinPost-WarSriLankaCentreforPolicyAlternatives|May2012
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Theanniversaryoftheendofthewarprovidesanannuallandmarkforreflectionontheachievementsandcontinuingproblemsinthepostwarcontext,aswellasanoccasionfordevisingbenchmarksforthenecessarytransitionfromapost-wartoapost-conflictsociety.WhileonanumberoffrontstheGovernmenthastakenstepstowardsnormalisationandpost-warreconstruction,whichhavehadabearingonthespaceforpeaceandreconciliation,therecontinuetobeproblemsonthegroundthatneedtobeaddressed.Incidentsoverthelasttwomonths,includinghigh-profileabductions,anattackonaplaceofreligiousworshipandharassmentandintimidationofcivilsocietyactorsinvolvedinnationalandinternationalhumanrightsadvocacy,
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highlightthecontinuingviolationsandtheneedtodealwithstructuralchallenges,inparticular,thelackofapoliticalsolutionandthecultureofimpunity.WhiletheGovernmenthasrepeatedlyexpressedinterestindevelopingaframeworkforreconciliation,therearealsoconcernsthattheGovernmentisoptingforapost-warmodelofeconomicdevelopmenttoconsolidatepeaceratherthansubstantivelyaddressissuesofdemocracy,apoliticalsolution,humanrightsandaccountability.Ashighlightedinthisdocument,thereisaclearneedtoaddressthebroadthematicissuesofpeaceandgovernance.TheGovernmenthastakenaseriesofinitiativesincludingtheLessonsLearntandReconciliationCommission(LLRC),theNationalHumanRightsActionPlan(NHRAP),draftpolicies
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andpolicystatementsincludingvoluntarypledgesmadeintheUniversalPeriodicReview(UPR)in2008onawidespectrumofissues,whichprovideanapproximateframeworkoftheGovernment’svisionandbenchmarksfordealingwithpost-warSriLanka.Inadditionthestatementsmadebypoliticiansandofficialsalsoindicatestatepolicy,themostrecentbeingthespeechmadebyPresidentMahindaRajapakseatthevictorydayparadeon19
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ofMay2012.CPAwelcomessomeoftherecommendationsandpledgesintheseinitiatives,severalofwhichwereraisedbyCPAandothersinthepast.However,CPAhasconcernsregardinginitiativessuchastheLLRCandNHRAP.Theserelatetoprocess,mandateandthecontentofthereportsoractionplans,includinginthelimitationsoftherecommendations.Notwithstandingthis,CPAhasreferencedtheseinitiativesandtheirrecommendations,asthesearebenchmarksformulatedbytheGovernmentand/orprocessesimplementedbytheGovernmentandusedinstatementsnationallyandinternationallytodemonstrateprogressmadeinSriLanka.Therearethreefundamentalproblemswiththesevariousinitiatives:

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PoliticalactivistsandleadersofthePeople’sStruggleMovementinSriLanka,PremakumarGunaratnamandMs.Dimithu
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DraftNationalReconciliationPolicypreparedbytheOfficeofthePresidentialAdvisoronReconciliationhttp://www.peaceinsrilanka.org/human-rights/national-policy-on-reconciliation-working-document-draft-one;NationalPolicyFrameworkonSocialIntegrationpreparedbytheMinistryofNationalLanguagesandSocialIntegrationhttp://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/18753-diversity-demands-social-integration.html.
 
Short-TermBenchmarksforPeaceandReconciliationinPost-WarSriLankaCentreforPolicyAlternatives|May2012
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Firstly
,whiletheexistingdocumentsareavaluableresource,thereareconcernsnotjustabouttheprocessthroughwhichsomeofthesepoliciesweredevisedbutalsothegapsintermsofissuesandrecommendationscoveredinthesekeypolicydocuments.
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Forinstance,theNHRAPfailstorecogniseorrespondtokeyissuessuchasdisappearancesandmissingpersons.TheGovernmentmustaddresstheseissuesandtakenoteofproblemsaffectingallcommunitiesinordertomoveforward,includingthosehighlightedbypreviouscommissionsofinquiryandinvestigations.Failuretodothiswillnegativelyimpactinitiativesaimingtostrengthenpeaceandreconciliationinthecountry.ThisnoteispreparedinthewakeofmediareportsindicatingthesharingofanactionplanbytheGovernmentwithkeyGovernmentactorsintheUnitedStatesfortheimplementationoftheLLRCrecommendations
4
althoughinformationonthecontentandprocessofdraftingarelimited.
5
Basedonthelimitedinformationavailableitisclearthattheprocessofformulatingthesaidactionplan
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isproblematic.ThelevelofconsultationevenwithconstituentmembersoftheUPFAisnotclearandtheviewsofoppositionpoliticalparties,civilsociety,amongothershavenotbeenconsidered.
7
Secondly,
whilesomepositivestepsonspecificissuesarebeingmade,thelackofsubstantiveprogressoncriticalissuesandtheabsenceofalong-termstrategyarealltooapparent.Aboveallthereareseriousquestionswithrespecttotheimplementationofkeygovernmentpoliciesandinitiatives,includingtheLLRC.ContradictorystatementsbyseveralseniorministersandofficialshaveraisedquestionsastotheGovernment’sstanceonthefinalreport.
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WhiletherehavebeenrepeatedstatementsbytheGovernmentthatit

3
TheCentreforPolicyAlternatives(CPA),PublicStatement,“ReleaseoftheLessonsLearntandReconciliationCommissionReport”,January2012,(http://cpalanka.org/release-of-the-lessons-learnt-and-reconciliation-commission-llrc-report/)
4
PoliticalEditor,“PeirisgoingtoUSwithsecretActionPlan”,TheSundayTimes,22April2012,(http://sundaytimes.lk/120422/Columns/political.html).
5
PoliticalEditor,“LLRCrecommendationsgotoWeeratungacommittee”,TheSundayTimes,6May2012,(http://www.sundaytimes.lk/120506/Columns/political.html);MandanaIsmailAbeywickrema,“MRAsksCoalitionPartnersForTheirStancesByTomorrow”,TheSundayLeader,22April2012,(http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/04/22/mr-asks-coalition-partners-for-their-stances-by-tomorrow/);RasikaSomarathna,“LLRCrecommendations:ActionPlanbeingfinalized”,TheDailyNews,8May2012,(http://www.dailynews.lk/2012/05/08/news11.asp).
6
AccordingtomediareportsconstituentpartiesoftheUPFAGovernmenthavebeenaskedtosubmittheirobservationsontheLLRCrecommendations.TheseobservationswouldthenbeforwardedtoaPresidentialcommitteewhichistodecidewhichrecommendationsareappropriateforimplementation.
7
CeylonToday.lk,“UNPwants17thamendment,RIbillinLLRCroadmap”,lastaccessedon14May2012,(http://www.ceylontoday.lk/16-5948-news-detail-unp-wants-17th-amendment-ri-bill-in-llrc-roadmap.html).
8
MinisterNimalSiripaladeSilvatheLeaderofHouseintheSriLankanParliamentandamemberoftheGovernmentdelegationtothe19
th
SessionoftheUNHRCstatedthat“TheLLRChasgonebeyondthemandategiventoitbyPresidentMahindaRajapaksaatcertainpoints.Thegovernmenthastoconsiderwhatpartsoftherecommendationscanbeimplementedimmediatelyandwhatpartsoftherecommendationsneedfurtherattention,indepthstudyetcandhowtheymakeanimpactonthecountry’sfuture.”[N.G,“‘Constitutionallowsstatetoholdreferendumonlyforsinglereason’,DailyNews,27March

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