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 Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) tenure extended

Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) tenure extended

2010 Nov 07

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa extended the tenure of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) by another six months in order to facilitate the Commission to record more evidence.

 

On May 15, President Rajapaksa appointed the eight member ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation’ Commission to report on lessons to be learnt from the events in the period, February 2002 to May 2009, their attendant concerns and to recommend measures to ensure that there will be no recurrence of such a situation, under a six months mandate ending on November 15.

 

It is learnt that the Commission had already submitted its Interim Report to President Rajapaksa. LLRC is to conduct hearing in Jaffna from November 11 to 15, following the extension.

 

The mandate of LLRC has been influenced in part by the South African experience and the Iraq Inquiry of the United Kingdom. The Commission was set up under provisions of Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 393).

 

Former Attorney General and LLRC Chairman, Presidents Counsel C. R. de Silva, iterated that the Commission wish to avail an opportunity for more members of general public to testify before it.

 

The Commission is mandated to report whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility in events that occurred between February 2002 to May 2009.

 

It will also recommend measures to be taken to prevent the recurrence of such concerns in the future and promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities.

 

The appointment of LLRC follows cabinet approval to a memorandum by President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself. It states that it has been apparent for quite some time to the Government, that the conflict situation due to the very brutality and long duration of the violence perpetrated against Sri Lanka, would have caused great hurt and anguish in the minds of the people, that requires endeavours for rehabilitation and the restoration of democratic governance complimented by measures for reconciliation.

 

Previously, President sanctioned Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in the United Nations to mention in his remarks at the UN Security Council Interactive Briefing on June 5, 2009 that the Government was in the process of initiating a domestic mechanism for fact finding and reconciliation.

 

Last month, LLRC responding to the refusal by three International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) to testify before it, slammed international rights groups stating that the commission will defend its impartiality and independence, in a letter sent by Secretary of the Commission, S B Atugoda.

 

“Commission notes with greater regret, the indirect aspersions you have cast on hundreds of fellow citizens who were the victims of this conflict and several responsible civil society organisations of our country, who have already made representations before the commission,” it said.

 

“The independence and impartiality of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in all fairness must be judged by the performance of the commission and not on the basis of pre-conceived notions,”

 

"Despite your ill-founded misgivings about the outcome of the commission's work, the commission will strongly safeguard its independence and will continue to work towards fulfilling its mandate,"

 

Three INGOs- London-based Amnesty International (AI), Brussels-based International Crisis Group and New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), issuing a joint letter on claimed that there was little to be achieved by appearing before such a "fundamentally flawed commission".

 

"Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation," said the joint letter, accusing members of the LLRC of being pro-government.

 

"In the current context of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, even an independent and fully empowered commission would face grave difficulties in pursuing accountability or contributing to lasting reconciliation," the INGO’s statement added.

 

"Anti-terrorism laws and emergency regulations grant extraordinary and arbitrary powers to the military and police and continue to be used to target critics of the government."

 

“In its two months of hearings to date, the Commission’s members, many of them retired senior government employees, have made no attempt to question the government’s version of events and have instead offered current officials a platform for continued misrepresentations of the facts,”

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the eight member ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation’ Commission on May 15, 2010 to report on lessons to be learnt from the events during the period from February 2002 to May 2009, their attendant concerns and to recommend measures to ensure that there will be no recurrence of such a situation.

 

The Commission was mandated to report whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regards and on measures to be taken to prevent the recurrence of such events in the future whilst promoting national unity and reconciliation among all communities.

 

The Commissioners appointed under provisions of Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 393) are: Chitta Ranjan de Silva, PC – Chairman, Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, PC, Prof. Mohamed Thahir Mohamed Jiffry, Prof. Karunaratna Hangawatta, Chandirapal Chanmugam, Hewa Mathara Gamage Siripala Palihakkara, Mrs. Manohari Ramanathan, and Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama.

 

- Asian Tribune -

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