Defence Secy allays Manouri’s concerns



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by Shamindra Ferdinando


Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi yesterday told The Island that the military or police wouldn’t interfere with those who had been consulted by the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) in respect of alleged atrocities committed during the conflict.


The outfit comprised 11 civil society activists, including key members of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and editor of Ravaya and attorney-at-law K. W. Janaranjana.


Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi stressed that there was no basis for the perception that the military would interfere with those who had brought their grievances to the notice of the CTFRM.


Asked whether the civil society outfit had sought an assurance from him regarding the safety and security of who had provided information to them, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said that Chairperson of CTFRM and attorney-at-law Manouri Muttetuwegama had recently met him in this regard.


Addressing the media at the Information Department on Thursday, Mrs. Muttetuwegama said that she had requested security guarantee for those who had shared their experiences with members of Zonal Task Forces. Mrs. Muttewegama stressed the importance of safety and security of of those who had conducted consultations on behalf of CTFRM.


Explaining the countrywide consultation process involving sectoral consultations, zonal task forces as well as submissions, Muttetuwegama emphasized: "Although we have been appointed by the government, we are certainly not agents of the State."


Muttetuwegama said that they expected continuing security guarantees from the government to prevent untoward actions by the military and ex-militants. The civil society spokesperson said that they expected the government to take into consideration their recommendations based on their findings. The CTFRM expressed confidence that the proposed transitional justice mechanisms would be based on their recommendations.


Professor Sitralega Maunaguru, formerly of the Eastern University said that those who had been affected by the conflict were concerned about the slow progress in addressing their grievances. Declaring that a range of far reaching reforms were required in post-war Sri Lanka, the academic urged the government to address accountability issues, language issue as well as confidence-building-measures.


Maunaguru also called for the establishment of memorials for those who had been killed in the struggle against successive governments.


Muttetuwegama’s outfit said it has received 7,306 submissions during countrywide consultations held between July-Sept. 2016. According to the data made available by the CTFRM, eastern districts of Batticaloa and Ampara and the Southern province had recorded the highest number of participants. Maunaguru said that people living in up country areas, too, had taken up several issues.


 


Secretary to the CTFRM Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said that those who had participated in consultations were wanted to have the proposed accountability and reconciliation mechanisms established closer to the area affected by the conflict.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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