Reconciliation not to find culprits

The government says its philosophy is that reconciliation is not about finding culprits to punish but undertaking a process of healing.

This was said at the UN General Assembly by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Dr. Palitha Kohona.

He says excessive external pressure is being piled on Sri Lanka to conclude the process of investigating allegations to the exclusion of all else even though similar situations in other countries have taken much longer.

Dr. Kohona recalled that the government initiated a domestic mechanism to address all aspects of the conflict, including any alleged violations of international standards.

“Following this, the Attorney General Department and the military Courts of Inquiry have already undertaken investigations to determine if there were any breaches of military law and the criminal law of the land. I wish to point out that Sri Lanka started its internal mechanism much earlier than comparable situations in other countries,” he said.

Dr. Kohona says Sri Lanka recognises the complexity of the reconciliation process confronting it with its many ethnic and religious pressures.

“We recognise that reconciliation is a drawn out process and will not be completed in a few short years. In this process, Sri Lanka has emphasised restorative justice, in keeping with its religio-cultural background and political sensitivities. For example, despite being able to take punitive legal action against many ex-terrorist cadres, including some leaders who surrendered, the State has chosen the option of rehabilitation, and restoration to the community as an integral part of the reconciliation process,” he said.

Kohona told the UN that former terrorist leaders such as Daya Master, George and Kumaran Pathmanathan live in peace and under government protection while other leaders have joined the democratic mainstream.

“Our underlying philosophy is that reconciliation is not about finding culprits to punish but undertaking a process of healing. Politically, the government is exploring options that would reflect the political concerns of all entities. Consultations among all stakeholders will continue to find lasting solutions acceptable to all. But no one expects normalcy to return overnight. It has not happened anywhere else, where the world imposed punitive justice,” he added. (Colombo Gazette)