Rajapaksa mulls over South African-style Truth Commission
By P.K.Balachandran | ENS | Published: 18th November 2013 06:36 PM |
The Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had told the South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of CHOGM, that he would like to know more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which South Africa had set up in 1995 following the end of the Apartheid regime to deepen ethnic understanding.
The state-owned Daily News said that Rajapaksa wanted to learn about the process adopted by the TRC and the outcome of the exercise. Zuma suggested exchange of visits in this regard.
But the interest in setting up a TRC is viewed with skepticism in Lanka.
“There is no need for a TRC when Lanka had already set up a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The LLRC had completed its work, and its recommendations are being implemented,” said Prof.Rohan Gunaratna, advisor to the Sri Lankan government on the rehabilitation of Tamil Tiger cadre who had surrendered.
Gunaratna told Express that Lanka had already adopted “restorative justice” as a policy in preference to punitive justice.
“The government had, in record time, rehabilitated and released back into society, nearly 12,000 ex-terrorists. It had, in record time, sent back to their native villages 300,000 war-displaced Tamil civilians; removed 500,000 landmines to facilitate resettlement; and pumped in money to give Jaffna a 22 percent annual rate of growth,” he said.
“The negative propaganda about Lanka in the West is due to the government’s inability to project what it has done in terms of restorative justice, to the Western media, the Non-Government Organizations and the influential Tamil Diaspora,” Gunaratna said.
Tactic to Buy Time
Suresh Premachandran, spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said that the talk about establishing a South African-type TRC was a “clever tactic to buy time” till the end of the March 2014 session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ,where the UK might inspire a resolution to censure Lanka.
“ Several times in the past, South African leaders had discussed the ethnic issue with Lankan leaders and the TNA. But these talks were fruitless because government was insincere. At any rate, a political settlement should come before a TRC is set up, as it did in South Africa,” Premachandran said.