Military to be disengaged from all commercial activity

SLV119The military is to be disengaged from commercial activity, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said today.

He said that the process is now underway and should be completed as part of the de-militarisation of the country by 2018.

The Foreign Minister said the Government wants to ensure military activities in the North and East are on par to what is seen in other parts of the country.

He noted that the Government has already replaced the military governors in the North and East with civilian governors.

Tamil political parties and groups have been calling on the Government to reduce the military presence in the North and East and remove the army from commercial activities.

The army has been operating shops, a hotel and has been engaging in other public commercial operations since the end of the war.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had told the UN Human Rights Council recently that despite welcomed steps towards demilitarization after the currenjt Government took office, such as the removal of checkpoints, the military presence in the north and east remains heavy and a culture of surveillance and, in certain instances, intimidation and harassment persists.

He had also said that former detainees released after rehabilitation and civil society groups working with victims continue to face regular security checks and questioning about their work. (Colombo Gazette)