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Govt must present road map for implementing recommendations in LLRC Report

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Prof. Savitri Goonesekere-UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

by Jayantha Dhanapala and Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

The Friday Forum is an informal gathering of public spirited persons wishing to contribute to the future development of Sri Lanka within a framework of democracy, social justice and pluralism. It is in that spirit that we wish to share some of our concerns with the wider public

Jayantha Dhanapala-pic courtesy of: Elliott School of International Affairs

The Friday Forum welcomed the setting up of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and co-operated constructively by making representations before it.

In November 2011, the Commission produced its final report which, though not meeting all our expectations, could form the basis for building national reconciliation in our country. We now wish to stress the importance of the early implementation of the recommendations, especially those flagged by the Commission for immediate and short-term implementation.

In his National Day speech on 4th February 2012, President Rajapakse endorsed the Commission’s view that all citizens were responsible for ensuring the success of reconciliation. He also confirmed that the implementation process of the Commission’s recommendations had already commenced. The Friday Forum welcomes this and, in furtherance of this process, urges immediate action to:

a. have the LLRC report translated and published in Sinhala and Tamil,

b. request the Speaker to arrange for a comprehensive debate in Parliament on the Report, and

c. encourage all print and electronic media to give the widest publicity to the report, and to create public awareness and dialogue over the report and its recommendations.

We earnestly appeal to the government to proceed with the implementation of the key recommendations of the LLRC. This will serve to strengthen the credibility of the government in fulfilling its commitment to create an environment of trust and reconciliation within our country and among all people. Some matters in the LLRC report that need immediate attention are:

1. releasing the report of the Udalagama Commission of Inquiry into killings, including that of the five students in Trincomalee and the seventeen aid workers in Mutur,

2. making available names of detainees and missing persons in regard to whom there is documented information of death, and

3. taking measures to prevent abductions and investigating such allegations as a matter of urgency and prosecuting offenders.

These are measures within the immediate competence of the government, given the intelligence and security apparatus that exists.

In September 2010, the LLRC made some interim recommendations and the Cabinet appointed an Inter-Agency Advisory Committee for the implementation of those recommendations. The IAAC has produced a ‘progress report’ that we find totally inadequate as it fails to detail any concrete action taken by it after it was set up seventeen months ago.

We understand that the cabinet approved a National Human Rights Action Plan in September 2011 and a ministerial sub-committee was appointed to implement it. We urge the release of this Action Plan in all three languages for discussion and for creating public confidence in the Plan.

It is also now necessary for the Government to draw up and present to the public an action plan or road map for the implementation of the LLRC recommendations. It is also important that this should be done in a transparent and non-partisan manner.

For effective implementation, we would urge the setting up of an independent and credible mechanism, preferably by an Act of Parliament. Such a statutory body should be free of direct political control and be provided with adequate financial and human resources to effectively carry out their functions.

After decades of internecine conflict, almost from the time of our independence from colonial rule, our country now faces many challenges, particularly in the areas of promoting reconciliation among communities, reducing economic hardships and eliminating lawlessness. The Friday Forum urges that the present opportunity be seized to rebuild trust and partnership among all our people so that we can move forward with our common agenda for peace in our country

Jayantha Dhanapala
Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

for and on behalf of Friday Forum

Other co-signatories:

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Prof Arjuna Auwihare
Prof Gananath Obeyesekere
Manouri Muttetuwegama
Dr A C Visvalingam
Dr G Usvatte-Aratchi
Dr Devanesan Nesiah
Dr Upatissa Pethiyagoda
Dr Deepika Udugama
Sithie Tiruchelvam
Anne Abayasekera
Damaris Wickremasekera
Jayampathy Wickremaratne
Camena Guneratne
Ranjini Obeyesekere
Ahilan Kadirgamar
J C Weliamuna
Tissa Jayatilaka
Mahen Dayananda
H D Wijenandana
Danesh Casie Chetty
Chandra Jayaratne
Lanka Nesiah.

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  1. Isrial government just exibits the road to map of implementing HR resselution in Jeneva. AS A NATION WHY NOT WE ALSO FOLLOW THE SAME RULE?
    or are there any alternative?

  2. There are things Sri Lanka can learn from Israel. Technology is one such example.

    However, I do not think Sri Lanka should follow arrogant and treacherous examples set by Israel on the world stage. They do it mainly, due to uncritical and endless American protection they receive, no matter what.

    Unlike Israel, Sri Lanka should aspire to occupy the moral high ground, not just “Golan Heights”.

    We must build a brave new Sri Lanka, governed by rule of law. At peace with other nations.

    We must implement LLRC because, it is right for our country. Not because of anything else.

  3. It is very disappointing that the government states, at least for now, that it does not intend to fully comply with the UN resolution and it would not fully implement constructive recommendations in it’s own LLRC report. If this is the government’s attitude with regard to the relatively smaller issues, it is really hard to be hopeful that government is going to be willing to move fairly and quickly on the larger issues such as those regarding the solution to the national question. The government’s persistent defiant attitude in effect may invite much stronger international pressures, additional stronger UN resolutions and other much harsher measures. The government will face difficult conditions at the UN UPR in October 2012. UN may also be forced to consider alternative approaches that may blindside the government that may not be realized now by the government but would regret later as the result would likely be much worse for the government than had the government complied initially to start with.

    Prioritizing the tasks is very crucial for skillful and effective management of the entire post-conflict restoration process. It is prudent to first focus on the development of the solution to the national question and implementing it as Phase 1/Task 1. This would be the most important achievement and future of the country depends on the success of this viable solution as the lack of the solution was the root cause of many of the problems. Implementation of constructive LLRC Recommendations (except investigations and accountability) should be started soon and could run on a parallel track. Rehabilitation and re-settlement activities are also important and these activities could continue on a parallel track.

    However, the focus on the investigation of human rights violations and accountability should be postponed to Phase 2Task 2 by on the order of couple of years as a prudent tactical approach. However, background work in this regard may be conducted, if desired. The primary reason is that there will likely be a lot of resistances, development of bitterness and aggravations, particularly if middle to higher level officers or important individuals were to be implicated, directly or indirectly. Attempts will be made by parties that have vested self interest to scuttle the entire process. If so, then it will likely hinder or even terminate the development and implementation of solutions to the national question because the leaders may feel cornered and they will resort to fight with tooth and nails for their power, freedom and survival.

    At this point of potential impaase either the accountability process needs to be abandoned or compromised to undesirably lower levels in order to proceed further to the second phase/task of solution. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid starting this accountability task first but come back to it after the first phase/task of development and implementation of solution is completed.

    However, the postponement of Task 2/Phase 2 should not be longer than a period on the order of a couple of years from now so that adverse impacts by potential loss or ineffectiveness of memory, witnesses and evidences are minimized. Furthermore, long unjustified delays should be avoided as justice delayed may be considered as justice denied.

    However, the postponement of Task 2/Phase 2 should not be longer than a period on the order of a couple of years from now so that adverse impacts by potential loss or ineffectiveness of memory, witnesses and evidences are minimized. Furthermore, long delays should be avoided as justice delayed may be considered as justice denied.

    Finally, accountability is necessary for full reconciliation to not only serve justice to the tens of thousands of innocent victims of various rights violations including unlawful killings but also to serve as a deterrent for similar future occurrences of massive levels of violations anywhere in the world that cannot afford to allow for a setting up a terrible precedent of escaping accountability at any cost.

  4. Hello Friday Forum,
    We are talking about “future development of Srilanka within the frame work of democracy,social justice and pluralism and it’s in that spirit that we wish to share some of our concern with wider public.” I don’t find any
    muslim co-signatories on your list!

  5. President should listen to the advice of educated crowd not the Mervin the vermin. It is sad it is not going to happen in our life time.

  6. Let sanity prevail in the country by people like Jayantha and Savitri from the majority community instil some sense in to the corrupt regime.

  7. A welcome appeal to the government by the Friday Forum. Will the Reajapaksa regime listen? I doubt it.

    Nice to see Prof Aluwihare as a member of the forum. He was a teacher of mine at Peradeniya medical school amny years ago.

  8. Muzammil, I am also disappointed to observe that no Muslim has subscribed to this useful statement. Ms. Jezima Ismail and Ms. Sithie Thiruchchelvan were contributing Friday Forum’s initiatives. Do not know what has happened this time. It could be that there is pressure from Muslim politicians with the Govt. that has kept such people away. Besides, it is a general trend within the Muslim civil society not to be involved in these issues. Such attitude keeps the Muslims in the dark and less knowledgeable in important issues and lead to taking wrong decisions. Hope this trend will change for the better interest of the community. The implementation of the LLRC recommendations will also help the Muslims in finding solutions to their own problems that have been neglected by the various Sri Lanka Govts.

  9. This is a good move by educated citizens over the government sponsored LLRC. I hope Mahinda will take some sort of action over the matter! and not necessarily to follow the motion at UNHRC!

  10. Responding to Observer’s comment it must be said that the situation in Geneva arose because the Sri Lanka Govt. is not being trusted as it has on numerous occasions gone back on its promises. Besides the recommendations of the several earlier Commissions appointed by the Govt. itself and the interim recommendations of LLRC made more than a year ago have not been implemented to date. The simple requirement of singing the National Anthem in Tamil has been disregarded. So can one even dream that the Govt. will honestly move forward in taking steps needed for reconciliation. There is total dishonesty on the part of the Govt. which has invited international intervention. The people are misled with the slogans ‘Foreign Intervention’, ‘ Intrusion in the country’s independence’, ‘LTTE rump influence and pressure’, ‘local traitors’, ‘NGO plots’ etc. etc. which are attractive and gullible terms fed to the people and abuse the true sense of patriotism. Such hoodwinking should be exposed and the people made aware of.

  11. Ha Ha! The biggest joke of the year. The Friday Forum members do not display any political sense. The UN Resolution is manna from heaven to the Rajapaksa regime; it will be used as an effective weapon to increase popularity amongst the Sinhala Buddhist voters.

    The threat of US interference leading to separation will be marketed to the voters. The toothless opposition including Sarath Fonseka will be out of the window.

  12. It is sad to see these educated elites don’t talk about the root course of the problem in their report. They talk about the secondary issues arised from the war. Several recommendations have been made by various committes like all party committee. If government wants to find the solution, it can do. But there is no willingness to do so.

  13. MR will do everything under the sun,but when comes LLRC he keeps reading.may be while reading he may dig his grave.

  14. Without democracy in the country nothing can be achieved. Before attempting to do anything to appease the West or otherwise government should first establish the Independent Police Commission followed by the Independent Election Commission etc., with the consent of the opposition parties. It will at least then show a semblance of democracy being restored in this country. It is no doubt that the country is now being ruled by one family, who appear to be under severe obligation to some political scroungers who resort to nefarious activities with obvious patronage of the rulers. This position is strengthened by statements recently made by Minister Mervyn Silva. A blend of Mobocracy and Kleptomcracy has replaced democracy in this country. President should at least now open his eyes wide and look at things wihout blinkers. He should not depend on opinions of those so-called advisors who are not even half-baked. The good work done by the President in ridding this country of terrorism has now been shadowed by those unscrupulous politicians singing hossanas for the President. Dear President time has now come for you to regain your lost reputation by acting according to your own conscience and not of those opportunists who are around you at present with the sole aim of safeguarding their positions. Without you this country would not have ridden itself of terrorism.

  15. Lanka Muslim, UK says:
    March 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm
    Responding to Observer’s comment ……

    Lanka Muslim, UK,

    I don’t disagree with the essence of your comments. However, all parties concerned still have to work together with the deck of cards they were dealt with and within the existing system and constraints in a pragmatic way to maximize the outcome that can be realistically achieved.

    It appears that there are not enough active efforts taken by the government leaders to solve the national question possibly because of the fear of potentially losing some political support due to likely compromises needed to be made to go forward. Furthermore, the government apparently wanted to capitalize on the war victory politics and ride the waves as long as possible.

    The first act by the power hungry president after the recent election was to change the constitutional term limit of 2 terms to unlimited so that the president could hold on to power perpetually, if wanted. Some of the great and bold achievements were done by the leaders that are in their last term (typically 2nd term) and they could afford to do that are in the long term best interest of the country and greater good rather than concerned about of potential adverse impacts of their decisions on the next re-election and electoral politics.

    President may be concerned that any compromise he makes might result in him losing some majority population votes. He needs to educate, convince and lead them to a fair solution for the long-term best interest of the country rather than letting other extreme elements to pander to the worst fears, instincts and bigotries. Opposition parties should cooperate and avoid politicizing it for the best national interest.

    A courageous leader is supposed to lead the masses by educating, consensus and convincing them of the virtues of fair principles and policies that may or may not be seemingly popular contemporaneously, but that would be the best for the country in the long –term interest based on own convictions, advices and input from other regional, national and global leaders who have experience and success in this subject. Leaders are supposed to lead. They are not supposed to follow or be followers of the masses though they are also supposed to represent the general interests of the masses.

    Public education and awareness of the relevant issues and appropriate pragmatic solutions are important measures that would help to garner public and political support and to counter deliberate misinformation, fear mongering and sabotage. There are many rallies organized “against” various policies and international community. But I can’t remember any notable rallies that are conducted “for” something positive, “for” solution aspects to the national question, or positively related issues. It is very beneficial to work on this aspect.

    The inept leaders are diverting the accusations and attention against them to the international community by falsely invoking patriotism slogan to hide their failures and refusing accountability. One can easily be a patriot who loves the country but not necessarily approve the government policies and/or conduct, like in the opposition. Public should be made aware of these matters and misleading tactics too.

    I do have hope that the government will substantially comply with the UN resolution and implement the important and constructive LLRC recommendations eventually because of the international pressure, particularly by the determined and involved leadership of the U.S. that cannot afford to allow dent to its credibility.

  16. If the Signatories names were changed as US Embassy no one would have noticed much of a difference.They would have made exactly the same note.
    I am afraid some of the emminant people in this forum are in danger of getting their names smeared by standing with some of the people in the list.
    Also,the forum could have maintained some balance in this effort if they requested other parties involved to assist in this effort as well.
    US,UN,India and the IC at large could have been asked to give some space to implement what they request from the government. The TNA and the diaspora could have been urged to participate.
    I am also a bit confused by some inconsistancies in the forums appeal.
    They first urge immediate implementation of some of the proposals of the LLRC and then ask the LLRC report be translated in to Sinhala and Tamil and tell the media to give maximum publicity,so that the general pulic made aware. Also request the speaker of the parliament to arrange a debate on the subject in parliament,but why do all those things if the proposals are to be implemeneted immediately? Should’nt the tail come after the dog?
    Good publicity,awareness of all interested,debate and consensus should be the way forward,I think. Hasty action to please interested parties have never solved anything.
    I wish the forum had come up with a workable solution to the illegal drug lords and the underworld mafiosi godfathers problem. I am sure the forum is aware of the horrible situation the country is faced with the above today and the freedom with which they make a mockery of the justice system of this country. Without a serious debate on human rights in this country drug lords and gangsters of the under world must not be allowed to get protection from human rights laws and violate the same rights of the law abiding citizens. Until such time some one that can atleast come up with a solution it should not be interfered with on the pretext of human rights. If the laws are not delivering what is expected of it,some other method must be eveloved to combat it, if not no one will have any rights anyway. I am sure the forum can appreciate that the wellbeing and the safty of the population at large is paramount to the human rights of a few people among whom some innocents too may get caught up.If that is the price we have to pay to rid the country of this menace, so be it. I think it is more than worth it. We have paid in lives for much less.
    I would like to propose to the forum to activly engage in promoting re-enactment of the death penalty for those above catagories.Like the tigers,elimination seems to be the only option.

  17. Dear Darlin de Silva,
    Thank you for your courageous statement.
    The Friday Forum will be ignored.
    All efforts will be made in furtherence of the Family Dynasty.

  18. 2 people 2 languages = 2 nations, that is the Tamil solution, that’s what they want. That’s what should be given.

  19. Thanks Lanka muslim.We find Sithie on the list.My whole
    point was about considerable encouragement was missing
    from the community.We can not fail to register our presence in national and international efforts initiated
    on behalf of the whole nation.Muslims have a responsibility to play a balanced role.We must be heard.

  20. Hello Muzzammil

    The reason for the absence of any Muslim co-signatories in the FF’s list may be because they think it is futile to fight Israel or Israil according to you friend w.m.k.samarasekera and think it is better to become it’s loyal citizens for the sake of enjoying the fruits democracy,social justice,and pluralism if things got too hot for them in SL considering the frightening threats that Mervin Silva issues nowadays.

  21. The Friday Forum – Intelligent …. but from a Rajapaksa point of view, irrelevant!

    So are the Elders Group, all governments, institutions, groups, individuals, diplomats, ordinary citizens or who ever else that advocate any actions that may even remotely risk the Sinhala-Buddhist vote. The primary motivating factor: to be in power perpetually.

  22. Uthungan,
    I hope you know that FF is a group of MULTI ETHNIC prominent intellectuals that involves people like Jayantha
    Dhanapala.Jazima Ismail is a signatory to the submission
    made to LLRC on the 1st of Oct 2010 by FF.And it was a rare call from a multi ethnic group for a set up of a body to look into accountability of violation of international human rights laws.So I believe your ref to
    Israel here is not very helpful.

  23. Prof Savitri and Amb Jayantha on behalf of the Friday Forum have made excellent recommendations on the process for Immediate actions a), b) and c) and immediate implementation of 1), 2) and 3). I hope the Government will accept the recommendations and implement it.

    On recommendation b) it is best for the Speaker to, after the debate, put each of the recommendations of the LLRC to Vote, especially the recommendation on accountability. Friday Forum has left that part of the LLRC recommendation out. May be because it can be taken up by the MPs interested in accountability. It is important for the people to know the position of each of the Members of Parliament on each of the recommendation. It will demonstrate the Will of the majority in Parliament and thus the Will of majority of people will become evident.

    The nucleus of post-war reconciliation and peace is accountability. It is not an issue that can be postponed. Much more of the crimes is being exposed with time and legal actions mounting. The window of opportunity, soon after the war, was squandered by chest-beating and subsequent policies and actions are pouring acid into the wounds of the victims. Reconciliation and peace is not something that can be finessed around political solution and accountability.

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