We are passionate about implementing LLRC recommendations -
Secretary to the President
The Army court submissions would come out soon on matters related to
civilian casualties in the end stage of the war on terrorism said
Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, who is heading the Task
Force for implementing the National Action Plan on LLRC recommendations.
Speaking to media heads in Colombo on Thursday Weeratunga said the
Attorney General's Department was going through the evidence, in cases
involving violations of human rights during the time of hostilities.
With regard to the ACF killings in Muttur, the AGs Department has to
prosecute according to the law. Child combatants have been released.
Ex-combatants have all been released; more than 11,000 of them (11,872
to be precise) were released, but 171 remain in rehabilitation following
legal proceedings, he said. They have to be brought back (to the process
of criminal investigation) if an investigation is opened Mr. Weeratunga
said, and do these foreign powers want that? he asked
"ICRCs numbers on civilian casualties are about the same as the Sri
Lankan Government's estimations, and in fact the ICRC is more interested
in helping the families than in the numbers game," he said.
Not knowing where Sri Lanka is on the map, they moot resolutions
against this country', said the President's Secretary speaking on a US
Congressman who was in the forefront in moving a US Senate resolution in
Sri Lanka He said she did not know where exactly Sri Lanka was on the
world map, when asked.
The Commission of Inquiry or an internal investigation is a matter to
be taken up, and the first step is the Missing Persons' Commission. Once
the figures are out on that, the next step could be considered, he
With regard to missing persons there were 13,000 applications
received by the Commission. Roughly about 8,000 civilians have gone
missing as per these applications.
In May 2012 the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was informed
about the reconciliation process and at that time she was told that the
bottom line is that reconciliation cannot be done in a matter of months.
'Please -- do not expect us to do magic', she was informed, Mr.
There were eighteen months of work already put into implementing the
LLRC at that time. A tremendous amount was done upto then since the LLRC
report was first released.Twenty thousand acres of land belonging to
private owners has been returned since the end of the war on terrorism
and 5,700 acres of state land have been returned.
"We are contemplating the appointment of a Land Commission: we have a
State Land Ordinance dating from the 1800s," he said."We will consider
appointing the 4th Land Commission very soon," he said..
The military strength now in the Northern Province is 80,000, he
said, and so these soldiers that were moved have been brought to the
South, and we cannot de commission them without finding alternative
employment, he added.
Some 5,000 families of IDPs remain. There are others with relatives
and friends. Out of 285 LLRC recommendations, 43 recommendations are
those dealing with reconciliation, and the trilingual policy is
Hate speech legislation is being drawn up. As for criticism that the
new Law and Order Ministry is under the President, but the Secretary
there is an army man, Weeratunga said "we don't have people that fit the
bill. They are not that easy to come by". "Once you leave the army you
are a civilian," he said, and cited an example from Australia of an
ex-soldier holding a top public post.
"The process of implementing LLRC recommendations is complex and
difficult; it's not because there is lack of commitment but due to
ground level reasons," he said. Outside the LLRC much has been done such
as lowering the qualification bar for the SLAS admission (Sri Lanka
"We are very passionate about implementing all 285 recommendations of
the LLRC report," he said. "Already 144 LLRC recommendations have been
implemented. We have taken on board all, and there are 23 ministries
through which the work is being implemented," he added.
On Geneva and the US resolution I was able to talk to the officials
in Geneva. I spoke to 40 Congressmen in the US, he said.
Why is the scrutiny only on the last two weeks of the conflict, he
said he asked the Congressmen. As for what happened in those last two
weeks (of the hostilities) we interpret it differently, he said.
He added that some of the Congressmen asked 'what right have we to
advise you when we have taken over two hundred years to reconcile at the
end of our strife.' Weeratunge said, his latest lobbying effort was not
to stop the Geneva resolution but to inform the relevant people in the
UN and in the US.