Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka has made considerable strides from soft authoritarianism towards consolidating a rights based democracy with deeply entrenched institutions and values. “We are convinced and we recognize clearly that societies that avoid looking at the past, fail to build sustainable peace,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
Minister Samaraweera was addressing the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London on The Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka.
Professor in Conflict and Development Studies, SOAS university Jonathan Goodhand and Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London Amari Wijewardene were present
Minister Samaraweera said Sri Lanka has suffered conflict several times both in the South and the North.
“There is hardly anyone in Sri Lanka who can claim to have not been affected by conflict, he said.
He said that traumatic memories do not simply vanish. “We have learned through experience since independence that grievances that are left unaddressed,can go on for generations,becoming entrenched and holding the risk of descending into cycles of violence,”he said.
Minister Samaraweera added that the country will never be able to achieve the full socio economic development potential,if country fails to address grievances, that risk plunging our nation into confoict once again.
“This led us to co-sponsor of the Resolution that we worked on with members of the Human Rights Council in October 2015,”he said.
The minister added that the set of actions that the Government has identified to deal with the past in a comprehensive manner, addressing the grievances of all victims, include truth seeking, justice reparation and measures for guaranteeing non recurrence.
“A a first step, we have enacted legislation to set up an Office on Missing Persons,”he said.
Minister Samaraweera added that there is a clear consensus across the board on the need of an independent credible domestic mechanism as promised by the manifesto President Maithripala Sirisena.
“As a democratic and sovereign government, we will work out the architecture of such a mechanism in consultation with all the stake holders,”he added.
“As an important measure to prevent non recurrence of conflict, the Parliament last year unanimously adopted a Resolution for the Parliament to sit as a Constitutional Assembly to draft a new Constitution that would, among other provisions,”he said.
He added that much of the preparatory work for the new constitution has now been completed. “wide ranging public consultations were conducted for the first time in Sri Lanka’s constitutional history: much study, reflection and negotiation was undertaken to arrive at consensus at the six sub committees st up and final negotiations on a draft are currently underway.
“The President’s Party, the SLFP and the JVP have asked for time to present their respective final proposals. The Interim report therefore is expected to be tabled in the Constitutional Assembly in early February for debate,” Minister Samaraweera added.