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* Sri Lanka sends delegation to South Africa to study reconciliation model
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 10:27 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 18, Colombo: Sri Lanka, keen on adopting the model of South Africa's restorative justice body, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, assembled to promote post-apartheid national unity and reconciliation, will send a delegation to South Africa this week.

A delegation headed by the Leader of the House Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Nimal Siripala de Silva will tour South Africa on 20th and 21st of this month to hold discussions with South African officials on that country's procedures and experiences of Truth and Reconciliation.

The delegation will explore the possibility of using the South African mechanism for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka after eradicating terrorism.

The delegation's discussions will be primarily in relation to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with the aim of understanding the manner in which that exercise can help in Sri Lanka's own reconciliation process, following the defeat of terrorism, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, interested in learning more about the South African model of restorative justice, has discussed Sri Lanka's goals in achieving reconciliation and addressing accountability issues with the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma.

President Rajapaksa held discussions with the South African leader during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013 in Colombo.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has continued the dialogue on this matter with his South African counterpart Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, which has resulted in the materialization of the visit.

At the request of Sri Lanka, President Zuma recently appointed the Deputy President of the African National Congress Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka to assist the reconciliation process in the island nation.

The South African President appointing Ramaphosa, said his expertise in conflict resolution and negotiations, as well as South Africa's experience, will greatly assist Sri Lanka to resolve its problems.

During a recent meeting with the South African High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Geoff Q.M. Doidge, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem has told the envoy that Sri Lanka's rebuilding and reconciliation process will be adversely affected as a result of an international probe into alleged war crimes proposed by the United States in its third resolution against the country that will be tabled at the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month.

The South African envoy agreeing that Sri Lanka should find its own solution to the problems, has offered his government's assistance to promote reconciliation among the communities in the country.

According to the External Affairs Ministry, while the context of the conflicts in Sri Lanka and South Africa has several differences, the sharing of experiences and insights is clearly of value.

"The forthcoming high level discussions underscore the close and collaborative relationship between the two governments, particularly on the issue of reconciliation. It is in this setting that the Government of Sri Lanka has been studying the South African experience in reconciliation, and adapting it to local conditions, as the reconciliation process, in order to be sustainable needs to be homegrown," the Ministry said in its statement.

The Sri Lanka delegation will also include Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda, Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion Faizer Mustapha, Monitoring Member of Parliament of the External Affairs Ministry Sajin de Vass Gunawardena and Organizer of the SLFP for Batticaloa Arun Thambimuttu.

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