Jan 24, Colombo: Sri Lanka's top most civil servant, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga has said that the Government of Sri Lanka has done all that was "humanly possible" to implement he National Plan of Action for the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), since its approval by the Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012.
Weeratunga, who chairs the task force monitoring the National Plan of Action, briefed the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva at the Palais des Nations on Tuesday (21st January 2014) on 'Progress in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka'.
Addressing the UN representatives the official has described the state of the country at the end of the three-decade long war in May 2009 that defeated the terrorist group LTTE and the efforts that went into restoring normalcy to the lives of those affected due to the conflict.
He informed his audience of the action taken by the Government over the past eighteen months to give effect to the recommendations of the LLRC in the areas of International Humanitarian Law Issues, Human Rights, Land Return & Resettlement, Restitution/Compensatory Relief and Reconciliation.
Weeratunga elaborated on the progress made, including the successfully concluded Northern Provincial Council elections, the government's cooperation with the Northern Province Chief Minister in continuing the massive development effort that had been undertaken in the area, developments relating to the Commission of Inquiry into alleged disappearances which recently held its first public sittings in Kilinochchi, as well as the recent Census on deaths/injuries to civilians and property damages due to the conflict.
Noting Sri Lanka's continued cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Lalith Weeratunga said since the visit of the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in August 2013, at the Government's invitation, the Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons had visited Sri Lanka in December 2013 and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants is scheduled to visit in May 2014.
While appreciating the support from the international community towards the implementation of the LLRC National Plan of Action, Weeratunga emphasized that the solutions to reconciliation cannot be found overnight and that trying to do so at the stroke of a pen could be detrimental to a sustained process.
He explained some of the complexities involved such as language issues, lack of senior Tamil administrators in the public service due to the LTTE preventing their recruitment since the conflict started in the early 1980s, and the ground level issues in administration in the former theatre of conflict.
Weeratunga pointed out that although the Government continues to enjoy popular support, some of the recommendations also required evolving a consensus across the ethnic, religious, regional and political diversity in the country, in order ensure that solutions are sustainable.
He emphasized the importance of the opposition including the major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) joining the government to make the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) which had been constituted, fully functional.
Prior to the briefing to Member States, Weeratunga also met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanetham Pillay and updated her on developments that had taken place since her visit to Colombo in August 2013.
He also had discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at the UNHCR and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, on ongoing collaboration between Sri Lanka and their respective organizations.