Sri Lankan Ambassador outlines extensive reconciliation measures already underway in speech to diplomatic group.
Sri Lanka has progressively already adopted a broad range of measures to facilitate reconciliation after the May 2009 end of its conflict against terrorism, Sri Lankan Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya told a gathering of the Serendipity Group of retired U.S. diplomats, and international pressure might make it difficult to enact the LLRC’s recent recommendations.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya stated that Sri Lanka stood strongly against a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council that calls for Sri Lanka to adopt the LLRC’s recommendations, noting that Sri Lanka has already agreed to do so.
“Considering all the changes the country has undergone in the post-conflict period, it is important that Sri Lanka be given the chance to overcome its challenges,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “It is only natural, then, that Sri Lanka would not wish to encounter measures that some countries may bring to the Human Rights Council.”
In late November Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission issued its report on an examination of the final phase of the Government of Sri Lanka’s conflict against the terrorist group Liberation Tiger of Tamil Ealam, or Tigers. The report was made public in December 2011. It contains a number of recommendations to aid reconciliation and right past wrongs, including investigations into alleged war crimes and incidents. Sri Lanka's military has already announced that it will establish a court of inquiry.
The government of Sri Lanka agreed to adopt the LLRC’s recommendations shortly after they were announced. As Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted in his remarks, several working committees and Sri Lanka’s Department of Justice have already been asked to tackle the task.
Nevertheless, the United States has said that it will offer a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council next week, urging Sri Lanka to adopt the LLRC’s recommendations.
“This pressure from some part of the international community is unacceptable,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “It is the firm conviction of the Government of Sri Lanka that it will not favour any external intervention to probe into its domestic issues. Further, such action would not be in keeping with established international procedure, where the domestic process needs to be exhausted prior to any international action.”
The ambassador laid out a long record of accomplishments by Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict, measure taken without international attention. They included the resettling of 300,000 people displaced by the conflict, development work that has helped to rebuild areas damaged by the conflict and revive important livelihoods in northern Sri Lanka, such as agriculture and fishing, and the rehabilitation of 1,000 former LTTE child soldiers and about 12,000 adult LTTE terrorists, who have been given amnesty.
“My point is this: These are home grown solutions,” the ambassador said. “They are already in place, and they work. This is what democracies do.“It is the Government of Sri Lanka that is best placed to launch a home grown solution acceptable to all of the country's citizens. This will be done, after all, within the framework of democracy.”
Many in the audience expressed support for Sri Lanka’s accomplishments, and its ability to implement the LLRC’s recommendations. Those recommendations include the prosecution of those suspected of committing war crimes, the resolution of land disputes, the accommodation of war widows, investigations into those who are still missing, the issuance of death certificates to those who are confirmed to be deceased, investigations into armed independent groups and a number of other measures.
“We have already announced that we will adopt the LLRC’s recommendations,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya concluded. “If it is not quick enough for some of our critics, we can only offer the record of our recent past accomplishments. As I have just noted for you, a good deal of positive change has already take place.”
Embassy of Sri Lanka
(Feb. 23, 2012)