Published on: May 2, 2024

Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism Solicits Public Input in Anuradhapura District

The Interim Secretariat for the Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM) recently concluded its public consultation in the Anuradhapura district successfully. This mechanism aims to inform the public and gather their opinions to prepare recommendations, thereby establishing a sustainable framework for fostering national unity and harmony.

The Director-General of the ISTRM and its staff met with the Supreme Head of Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Mahanayake Thero, Most Venerable Prof. Aththangane Rathanapala Maha Thero, Ven. Waleboda Gunasiri Nayaka Thero, Ven. Wadduwe Dhammawansa Thero, Ven. Kongasthenne Ananda Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of Thanthirimale Rajamaha Vihare Ven. Thanthirimale Chandrarathana Thero, Anuradhapura Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Viharaya Incumbent Ven. Nugathenne Pannananda Nayaka Thero, Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of Ruwanweli Maha Seya Ven. Ithala-Watunu Wawe Gnanathilake Thero, Bishop of Anuradhapura, Most Rev. Norbert Marshall Andradi, and Reverend fathers, including Mawlawi Abdul Qayum from the Anuradhapura Jummah Mosque. They engaged in discussions and sought their recommendations, opinions, and blessings regarding the ongoing tasks.

Discussions were also held with various stakeholders, including villagers from Nochchiyagama and Mahavilacchiya affected by the war, divisional secretaries, village officials, government officials, academic staff from Rajarata University, civil organization activists in Anuradhapura, officers from the armed forces, high-ranking army officials, Senior Superintendent of Police, Inspector Generals of all police stations in the Anuradhapura District, air force officers, journalists, officials from the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), the Jathika JanaSabha Secretariat, and villagers from Thammanna, Alawaka, Mahakongaskada, Kabithigolleva, and Horovpathana Regional Secretariat Divisions.

During these deliberations, the challenges encountered by the victims as a result of the North East conflict were discussed, emphasizing the imperative of averting such harrowing experiences in the foreseeable future. Emphasis was placed on the necessity of instituting an autonomous commission to address these objectives and furnish recommendations for law enforcement agencies and the incumbent government to formulate policies aligned with the commission’s counsel. Stakeholders were briefed on the significance of endowing commissioners with authoritative powers. Moreover, distinctions between the operational procedures of the erstwhile Presidential Commission for Peace and Reconciliation and the envisioned Independent Commission were elucidated.

It was noted that 26 other countries facing similar wartime challenges have implemented truth commissions, while the Interim Secretariat is actively studying relief efforts for victims of conflict through transitional justice in 12 nations. Highlighting the significance of formulating guidelines drawn from these international experiences, the proposed commission’s structure includes not only commissioners and a secretariat but also an advisory board comprising both local and foreign scholars, alongside a regulatory board tasked with overseeing recommendation implementation. This framework underscores the proposed institution’s independence, grounded in principles of equilibrium and accountability intrinsic to the envisaged mechanism.

The discourse emphasized the necessity of leveraging insights from global models, particularly given the analogous circumstances, to inform domestic policy. Beyond the fundamental components of the commission, the inclusion of diverse advisory and regulatory bodies aims to ensure comprehensive oversight and guidance. Central to this proposal is the concept of institutional independence, a cornerstone upheld through balanced representation and robust accountability measures, fostering credibility and efficacy in addressing the complexities of post-conflict justice and reconciliation.

Accordingly, the government has initiated measures to establish an independent Commission for Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation through parliamentary legislation. The Interim Secretariat of the Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation Mechanism has played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for this commission, as evidenced by its publication in the Gazette dated January 1, 2024. Throughout this process, stakeholders have actively contributed their expectations and opinions regarding the key provisions of the proposed Act and the envisaged mechanism.

Furthermore, the team at the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism has gazetted a bill aimed at addressing the grievances of those impacted by ethnic conflicts in the North-Eastern Provinces between 1983 and 2009. Parties involved have been duly notified of the government’s commitment to refining and amending the bill in light of the inputs received, signaling a collaborative approach towards addressing longstanding grievances.

Additionally, it was conveyed that the issues voiced by the residents of Anuradhapura district during these discussions, along with the ongoing challenges they encounter post-war, will be diligently raised with the appropriate government bodies for consideration and action.

The Director-General of the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism, Dr. Asanga Gunawansa, Senior Additional Secretary to the President Ranjith Ariyaratne, Senior Executive (Policy) Asif Fuard, Executive (Public Relations) Danushi De Silva, Executive (Public Relations) Saumya Wicramasinghe, Naveendra Fonseka, and Gamini Widyaratne were also in attendance at the event.


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