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Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Lanka Govt. considers proposal by visiting South African President Zuma

2013 Nov 18

A proposal to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine human rights and other accountability issues including alleged war crimes is now before the Government. The move is intended to help Sri Lanka address some of the important accountability issues now before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The next sessions of the Council will be held in Geneva in March next year. At these sessions some western nations are pushing for further measures against Sri Lanka. The latest to join was British Prime Minister David Cameron who delivered an ultimatum during his visit for the CHOGM in Colombo that his Government would back the move for an “international inquiry” if no “domestic probe” is carried out over alleged war crimes.

South African President Jacob Zuma discussed the proposal with President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he met him for bilateral talks on Friday. A statement from the Presidential Secretariat said President Rajapaksa was “interested in learning more about the Truth and Reconciliation (commission) of South Africa, its process and its outcome.”

President Zuma is expected to place the same proposal before the Tamil National Alliance when he meets a delegation today. The TNA delegation will include its leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan and Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

For several months diplomatic consultations have been spearheaded by the South African High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Geoff Doidge. A diplomatic source said that Pretoria’s recommendation for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the outcome of these efforts. This was an added reason for President Zuma to attend CHOGM, the source said.

It is not immediately clear how the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission will take shape in Sri Lanka if the proposal is accepted.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in South Africa soon after apartheid was dismantled. Victims who complained of human rights violations were asked to state their case. Some were chosen for public hearing. Even perpetrators of violence were allowed to give evidence and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

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