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LLRC should ensure a free and secure environment  where people can give evidence

LLRC should ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidence

2010 Nov 21

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) – Sri Lanka stressed that Lessons Learnt andReconciliation Commission (LLRC) should ensure a free and secure environment where
people can give evidence without fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions inTrincomalee and Mannar.
 
LLRC’s visit to Jaffna is commendable and the sessions they held are a step towards thehealing process.

Nevertheless certain incidents which occurred in the Kaytes Island on November 14, reports of a systematic intimidation campaign to discourage residents from appearing before the LLRC and the threatening of a Jaffna based journalist, makes theCentre for Human Rights (CHR) wonder whether the LLRC took adequate action to ensurean environment where one can give evidence without fear of future persecution.
 
Overall there was inadequate media attention to the sessions in Jaffna. A look at the newspapers show that there was minimal representation Colombo based main stream media,
except one, and civil society organizations, except representatives from the US and
Norwegian embassy.

It is also a well known secret in Jaffna that local journalists do notcover stories in the islands fearing attacks by groups which had a militant past. Nevertheless it was this minimal outside presence that allowed the Uthayan and Yaal Thinakural news paper reporters to cover the sessions in Kaytes.

Otherwise Thina Murasu, the EPDP newspaper would have been the only local news paper to cover the Kaytes sessions. The LLRC is to visit Trincomalee in early December to take submissions from the peopleaffected by the war.

Trincomalee is another area where political parties with a militant past still operate and the LLRC should take steps to ensure that there is a free and secureatmosphere where people can give evidence without fearing future retribution.


It shouldalso be alert whether certain groups attempt to prevent people from testifying before it. It is only through accomplishing this that the commission will be able to convince the residents of the North and the East that it is serious in accomplishing its mandate.


It's very important that LLRC take necessary actions to prevent a repeat of what took place
in Kaytes and ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidencewithout fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions. In the same time, the Civil
Society and the Colombo based media must provide adequate attention and coverage to the

LLRC sessions held outside Colombo.


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