Sri Lanka To Set Up Commission To Solve Tamil Crisis
By SUSITHA FERNANDO
COLOMBO, (IANS) – The Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved the setting up of a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission to solve the ethnic crisis with the Tamils that had resulted in the 26-year-old Civil War.
The cabinet nod has been received following a preliminary review done on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how the country confronted its own apartheid-era crimes through such a body.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry and Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who had visited South Africa on an invitation by the South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister to conduct a preliminary study on the Commission, had presented a joint-cabinet paper for the approval.
“The two ministers held discussions with the South African President, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, and other heads of the South African Government on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena said.
Since the end of the war in 2009, successive governments had promised to investigate crimes committed by both sides during the 26-year conflict between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
In 2015, the Sri Lankan government informed the UN Human Rights Council about setting up a similar commission with proposals to set up a criminal justice mechanism and compensate victims.
Human rights groups had complained that Sri Lanka has failed to address continuing incidents of torture by the police and military against minority Tamils and had demanded an international investigation with the participation of most international judges in an independent system and an independent international prosecutor.