EPDP Leader and Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda to raise several Issues Including Establishment of a Ministry of Northern Affairs at the Inaugural Meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation chaired by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to be held on October 25th :


Mirudhula Thambiah

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation chaired by President Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold its first meeting today (25).

Speaking to The Morning, Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda said yesterday (24) that at the first meeting, he would mainly discuss land-related issues, the activities of the Department of Archaeology, foreign and natural reserves, the Mahaweli L-Zone, missing persons, detainees, the pardoning of all Tamil political prisoners through a method similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of South Africa, the implementation of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution on administrative languages, maintaining the ethnic proportionality in the Security Forces, and forming a ministry for Northern affairs.

“I will propose to release private lands under State control or State ownership. Some of these areas which include lands belonging to the people, temples, schools, and sacred places, should be released,” he added.

He further noted that he would also highlight the activities of the Department of Archeology.

“I would suggest that members from all religions should represent the department. Therefore, a suitable solution could be reached, on related issues,” he added.

Devananda also noted that he would highlight forest reserve lands, the people’s lands, agricultural lands, and aquatic lands within the discussion.

He further noted that inquiring into missing persons should cover the time period starting from 1983 and that killings by unknown persons or related claims should also be investigated.

“If the missing persons since 1983 are investigated, it would cover the period of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the time of the Indian Peace Keeping Force, and the Sri Lankan Security Forces. The families of missing persons should be provided with suitable compensation.”

He also noted that both parties of the conflict should be pardoned through a process similar to South Africa’s TRC.
“Pardon should not only be given to one side but to both the sides, and only then, it would reflect the TRC.”

Devananda further said that he would urge the implementation of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.

“Although the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the 16th Amendment to the Constitution were adopted, proper implementation is yet to be achieved, so I would emphasise on it,” he added.
Regarding the ethnic proportionality in recruitment for the Security Forces, he said: “I would recommend that it should be implemented soon within the Police. This has been my long-term proposal. There is a difference between me and the other Tamil political parties. They do not want problems to be solved, but I approach problems to resolve it,” he added.

He would also emphasise on the need to establish a Ministry for Northern Affairs.

The Cabinet on 17 October approved the proposal presented by President Wickremesinghe to establish the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation chaired by the President to promote reconciliation between the various sections of the population in Sri Lanka, and to propose solutions to the problems faced by the people regarding resettlement, lands, and missing persons after the conflict in the North and the East.

This committee would also comprise Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Devananda, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms President’s Counsel (PC) Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, and Minister of Foreign Affairs M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC.

Courtesy:The Morning