Published on: February 11, 2024

ISTRM holds a stakeholder forum to discuss the proposed legislation for establishing an independent Commission for Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation

In a significant stride towards fostering truth and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, the Interim Secretariat for the Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM) recently organized a forum to address key issues related to its mandate.

The forum, held in Colombo on February 9th, brought together a diverse range of stakeholders, including government officials, civil society representatives, media personnel and experts in the field of law and transitional justice. The primary objective of the forum was to discuss various aspects of the draft bill for a Commission for Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation (CTUR), which will play a pivotal role in addressing grievances of persons affected by the conflict in the North and East, promote reconciliation and non-recurrence.

During the forum, it was emphasized that the ISTRM, assigned to lay the groundwork until the establishment of a CTUR, has been holding stakeholder consultations with victim groups, affected communities, religious dignitaries, policy makers etc, and diligently working on developing a way forward report based on truth mechanisms in other jurisdictions, and drafting guidelines and procedures for the consideration of the Commissioners under the proposed Act. The ISTRM comprises four divisions, each staffed with personnel possessing expertise in legal matters, policy development, public relations, and information technology.

The forum provided a platform for robust discussion on various aspects of transitional justice, including the need to adopt a victim-centric approach ensuring that the voices of victims are heard. Participants also expressed views on aspects such as the handling of sensitive information related to national security, collaboration with National Archives for systematic records management and the involvement of the Tamil diaspora in the transitional justice process. The importance of conducting an inclusive and transparent consultation process to gather input from various stakeholders to build trust and legitimacy for the transitional justice process was reiterated.

Participants were informed that the draft CTUR bill is available for review and feedback by the stakeholders, and that this inclusive approach is adopted to ensure that the proposed legislation takes account of the diverse needs and concerns of all sections of society.

The forum brought together distinguished personalities such as Parliamentarian and Professor of Law, Hon. Prof. G L Peiris and Emeritus Professor of Law, Savitri Goonesekere. The discussion from the ISTRM was led by the Director General, Dr. Asanga Gunawansa, (PC) aided by the Head of Policy, Dr. C. Y. Thangarajah.

Overall, the forum provided a platform for constructive dialogue and collaboration, highlighting the collective commitment towards truth, reconciliation, and healing in Sri Lanka.
The ISTRM expressed gratitude to all participants for their valuable contributions and reiterated its dedication for fostering reconciliation and peace in the nation.

As Sri Lanka continues its journey towards reconciliation, fora such as these serve as crucial stepping stones towards building a more just and inclusive society for all its citizens.

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