Diplomatic Editor, Sunday Times, 7 February 2016, where the title is “Geneva issue: Govt. earmarks 11-member Task Force”
An eleven-member Consultation Task Force will enforce provisions of the US-backed resolution which was jointly sponsored by Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in Geneva last year. Its work will be carried out with the help of a UN expert who will arrive in Colombo next week. He is Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. This will be part of an Action Plan formulated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as stated in a confidential document circulated to Western countries and India as part of the implementation of the UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) Resolution titled promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka adopted by the UNHRC in October, 2015.
The framework for the consultation process, already formulated, will have two phases — a web-based process in all languages and a face-to-face consultation process which will focus on specific stakeholders –including children, military, disabled combatants, widows and ex-child combatants. The web-based process will begin after Mr. de Greiff arrives.
According to the Action Plan, the consultation process will be “victim centric” and will be completed within three months. The 11-member Committee named by the Government comprises Manouri Muttetuwegama (Chairperson), Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu (Secretary), Gamini Viyangoda, Prof. Chitralekha Maunaguru, Visakha Dharmadasa, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Dr Farzana Haniffa, Shantha Abhimanasingham PC, Mirak Raheem, Prof. Daya Somasunderam and Gameela Samarasinghe.
The Task Force, which will report to a Steering Committee on Reconciliation and the Prime Ministerial Action Group (PMAG) will consult stakeholders on design of the domestic mechanisms. The Steering Committee is now speaking to experts and researching on options available, according to a Government note seen by the Sunday Times. It says “the actual designing and presentation of legislation to Cabinet and Parliament will begin only once the process of consultations concludes.”
On the subject of “commencing a dialogue with persons of Sri Lankan origin overseas,” the note says “267 out of 424 individuals and eight entities out of 16 entities that were listed under the UN Security Council resolution 1373 in 2014 were de-listed in 2015.”
It says that the “Government is working with the private sector to organise a month-long festival in June 2016 for persons of Sri Lankan origin, inviting them to re-visit Sri Lanka.” The Cabinet of Ministers has already approved the setting up of a Secretariat to service the Consultation Task Force. It will also service the Steering Committee’s other Working Groups to be set up shortly to:
- Draft legislation for an Office on Missing Persons
- Draft legislation for the issue of certificates of Absence.
- Draft Enabling legislation to give effect to the Convention against Enforced Disappearances
- Working on researching into experiences of truth seeking mechanisms elsewhere and judicial mechanisms
- Working on implementing the recommendations of the Working group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).
Daya Somasundaram speaking-launch of Palmyrajh Fallen — see https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/banning-historical-memory-questions-of-politics-quality-academic-freedom-in-Jaffna/
- “Providing a Voice for War Widows,” March 2005, http://www.globalaging.org/armedconflict/countryreports/asiapacific/voice.htm