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LLRC Implementations Half-hearted

By Waruni Karunarathne
Nearly two years have passed since the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) was submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa with over 140 recommendations to be implemented. The LLRC was appointed by the President in 2010 to investigate matters related to the failure of the ceasefire agreement made operational in 2002 right up to the final phase of war in 2009. This was done with the intention to support the reconciliation and recovery process after three decades of conflict.
The report that came out in November 2011 carried several observations, including many human right issues arising from the conflict, and put forth recommendations to overcome barriers and avoid recurrence of such unfortunate events in future. Even though the government has claimed that there has been a lot of progress in the implementations of the recommendations of the LLRC, several other parties have contradicted the government’s point of view.
The recent update made to the UN Human Right Council (UNHRC) in Geneva by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay after her visit to Sri Lanka, however, did not carry a pleasant statement. She warned the Sri Lankan government of the possibility of an international probe if the government was unable to address concerns related to human rights by March 2014. The Sunday Leader spoke to several political leaders and civil society personnel to get their point of view on the progress made by the government in implementing LLRC recommendations.

Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, Deputy Minister of Resettlement and Vice President of Sri Lanka Freedom Party

The President appointed the LLRC. The government has already shown a lot of progress in the recommended areas. We have appointed committees to carry out investigations, and addressed issues related to war afflicted people and missing persons. During her visit, Navi Pillay said that she was happy with the country’s development. In her recent statement, she complained about some other matters.
It has nothing to do with the progress made by the government with reference to the LLRC recommendations. However, when it comes to the recommendation on demilitarization of the country, it is not possible to demilitarize certain areas so soon after the war. We cannot immediately remove the military from these areas. People in the North and East are happy about the military presence. It is to ensure security of the people.
The recently concluded Provincial Council election is a good example of the democracy established by the government. The military did not prevent people from voting TNA.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara, 
Minister of National Languages and Social Integration and Secretary of Democratic Left Front

The Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration has already completed 50% of our targeted work, related to language policy and implementation, with much success.
Apart from that, we have taken measures to blend the communities through cultural and entertainment activities. We strongly believe that these cultural and entertainment events are one way to bring the communities together in the reconciliation process.
We organize games and entertainment activities that involve men and women of all cultures. On the other hand, we continue to train government officials to communicate in both Sinhala and Tamil in order to enable bilingualism in the community.
All government officials should be able to work in both languages. We have already succeeded in creating trilingual work places. One good example is the Criminal Investigation Department.
The other important task, which we have been working on, is to put up name boards in both languages in order to overcome language barriers within communities. Within the course of this year, or early next year, we plan to establish two centers: one in Kilinochchi (Northern Province) and one in Kuruwita (Sabaragamuwa Province) under the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration.
By decentralizing the activities of the ministry, we expect to function more effectively for the benefit of the communities. Currently, we are carrying out awareness campaigns on LLRC recommendations through youth camps and language learning centers to keep the public attentive of the action plan of the reconciliation process.
Ravi Karunanayake, United National Party MP

What the government has done is camouflaging the whole truth; they only have cosmetic approaches to problems, whereas their deliverables are very poor and ineffective to address the real issues at hand.
The government has failed in many areas, especially when it comes to appointing an Independent Advisory Committee to monitor and examine detention and arrest of persons taken into custody under any regulations made under the Public Security Ordinance or the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The government has not yet taken sufficient actions on many other matters that were recommended by the LLRC. The resettlement process has also been unsuccessful. Each time the government is supposed to present the progress of the country to an international audience, they pledge to show progress of 30% or 55% by this date or that date.
The percentages of progress on extended deadlines do not do any good to the people. What we want is real progress. If they say that they have done what is required to be done, there has to be a result. So far we have not noticed the progress that they claim. There are hardly any qualitative implementations of the LLRC recommendations.
Tilvin Silva, General Secretary of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

We do not agree with some of the recommendations set forth by the LLRC. It was the President who appointed the committee. The President pledged to work according to the LLRC Action Plan.
Navi Pillay said if the government does not take necessary measures to address these issues, the UNHRC will take matters into their hands. If the government does not create blunders in issues related to human rights and democracy, there is no reason for such international interferences.
The government gives them enough reasons for these interferences. Navi Pillay made several claims pertaining to human rights violations and loss of democracy in the country. She brought up issues related to the lack of independence of the Court of Justice, the unlawful removal of Shirani Bandaranayake and the Weliweriya incident, proving lack of democracy in the country.
There are so many wrong doings by the government such as intimidating journalists, interfering into affairs of the Court of Justice, making amendments to the Constitution unfairly and creating unfriendly environment for some journalists. If the government wants to stop interferences of the international forces, they should first establish democracy within the country. –
J. C. Weliamuna, HR lawyer and Exe. Dir. Transparency Inter’nal

There are several major areas of the recommendations by the LLRC that specifically focus on ethnic reconciliation and reconciliation related to governance. We cannot see any sign of progress on the latter. We still encounter political interferences in the public service.
The government has not yet launched a full investigation into allegations of disappearances, abductions and attacks. In the resettlement process, the government may have distributed certain lands to the public, yet there is still a large portion of land occupied by the military. If the government’s attempts for reconciliation are genuine, they could have done much more than the little that they brag about. Besides, the public do not have informed decisions on the reconciliation process.
Another recommendation by the LLRC was to demilitarize the country including North and East. However, there are still military camps setting up in those areas that prompt fear in people. Navi Pillay’s visit and her demand to address human rights concerns of the country clearly indicate that we have attracted a lot of international attention.
The problem with the government is that they have a credibility gap. They often do one thing and say something else to the international audience. They should realize by now that they would not be able to fool or mislead the international audience, or the educated mass of the country for that matter. It is now time for the government to make a genuine attempt to address these issues.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of Center for Policy Alternatives

I do not see where the government has made progress in the implementations of the LLRC recommendations. They contradict the reports presented to the UNHRC.
For example, the LLRC recommended that the Police Department should be de-linked from the institutions dealing with the armed services. The LLRC required establishing an independent, permanent Police Commission to monitor the performance of the police service and ensure that all police officers act independently, maintaining a high degree of professional conduct.
Despite this, the police are now under the Ministry of Law and Order which comes directly under the President, preventing them from acting independently. The LLRC also called for an end to military intrusions in the country.
However, military intrusions continue in the North and East. Further, no action has been taken to implement the practice of the National Anthem being sung simultaneously in both Sinhala and Tamil. This shows the government’s lack of commitment to implement the recommendations. It is obvious that there has not been a substantial development in the country.
Douglas Devananda, Minister and Leader of EPDP

The government is trying their level best to implement all the recommendations of the LLRC. There are more activities to be completed.
However, we are happy about the government’s commitment to the LLRC Action Plan. We will soon be having discussions with Lalith Weeratunga, the President’s Secretary, regarding the future implementation of the LLRC recommendations. Thereafter, we will be able to make a clear statement of the progress made.
R. Sampanthan, Leader of Tamil National Alliance and MP

The government has made no progress in areas related to land issues and demilitarization. Required investigations have not been carried out on abductions, unlawful arrests, arbitrary detention and involuntary disappearances during the period of conflict.
These are some of the fundamental problems that needed to be addressed according to the LLRC recommendations. Since the government has failed to address the most fundamental matters at hand, there is nothing more that we can expect from them.
To conclude, they have failed miserably to make any progress in the implementation of the LLRC recommendations.
Source:The Sunday Leader