Parliament today passed legislation to pay compensation to victims of the island’s brutal civil war, nearly a decade after the end of the conflict which claimed 100,000 lives.
The legislature voted 59 – 43 to approve a broad reparations bill which seeks to establish an independent office that will compensate survivors as well as victims’ next of kin, the AFP news service reported.
Former strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse’s followers voted against the bill, arguing that it amounted to compensating separatist Tamil rebels who were crushed in a no-holds-barred military campaign in May 2009.
The long-delayed legislation had been a key demand of international observers urging reconciliation in the island nation where divisions between minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese persist.
The office will decide on potentially tens of thousands of compensation claims from those afflicted by fighting that ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels.
President Maithripala Sirisena has faced international criticism for the lack of progress towards reconciliation since his election three years ago.