COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan cabinet has decided to appoint a Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation (PTFR) to inquire into issues related to ethnic reconciliation and suggest remedial measures.
Announcing this on Thursday, cabinet spokesman, Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, said that said that the PTFR will focus on the “immediate” problems faced by the ethnic minorities and suggest measures to alleviate their hardships. It will also look into the cases of those Tamils who have been in custody for long without being charged. More generally, it will suggest measures to bring about ethnic harmony.
Senaratne said that according to the Inspector General of Police, there are 275 Tamil prisoners who have been in jail for long without being charged. These could be divided into five categories. Some of them are in for minor offenses and there are others against whom there is no evidence yet. The PTFR will go into these cases and see how many of them can be set free.
TNA Welcomes Move
Reacting to the decision to appoint a PTFR, spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Suresh Premachandran said that it is a “welcome move”.
Premachandran said that the PTFR should address the following issues: Returning to their original Tamil owners, several thousand hectares of private lands acquired by the armed forces; resettlement of the thousands of refugees still living in the 30-odd camps in the North; aiding the large number of women-headed households; assisting those disabled in the war; and releasing the hundreds Tamil men and women held in jails without being charged.
“The Sirisena government should see to it that the steps suggested by the PTFR are implemented and that the PTFR does not become a devise to delay implementation of measures already agreed upon,” Premachandran said.