Print this page

Measuring change in Sri Lanka – Our yardstick

Rate this story
(0 votes)

Today marks 100 days since that election and the culmination of President Sirisena’s 100 day plan. In the days to come there will doubtless be much analysis of the extent to which the hundred day plan has succeeded and failed.  We are not going to comment on these issues; those in Sri Lanka would be much better able to do so.

However, the time is right to revisit our yardstick and to use it to make some preliminary judgements as to how much has changed in Sri Lanka.

A simple traffic light scoring system has been used:

Green – indicates significant progress (i.e. substantive positive change even if the end result is far from perfect.)

Amber – indicates some progress (i.e. some steps taken but much more work needed)

Red – no progress (i.e. no meaningful attempt to effect change)

The tests, by category:

The release of political prisoners
Has JeyakumaryBalendaran, a mother of one of the disappeared against whom no evidence has been produced, been released after over 300 days in detention? Green
JeyakumaryBalendaran was released on the 10th of March 2015.

Is the government moving to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a draconian piece of legislation which allows people to be imprisoned without trial for up to 18 months? Red
There have been no steps towards the abolition of the PTA.

Has it withdrawn regulations promulgated under the PTA which keep in place the effects of the lapsed Emergency Regulations? Red
There have been no steps towards withdrawing these regulations.

Has the government released all prisoners held under the PTA, or otherwise brought them into open court for trial on specific charges? Red
Seven other political prisoners were released at the same time as JeyakumaryBalendaran, but there has been no movement on the release of other political prisoners or even clarity on how many prisoners there may be. Following a meeting with Solicitor General SuhadaGamlath, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran claimed that there are about 300 political prisoners remaining, but SuhadaGamlath robustly defended the decision to continue to detain them.

Has the government disclosed how many LTTE cadres are being held in secret “rehabilitation camps”? Red
Prime Minister RanilWickermasinghe has denied that any such camps can continue to exist under his rule,however an article by JDS Lanka suggests that at least two continue to operate.
There is no clarity as to how many LTTE cadres remain in detention with estimates ranging from 49 to 700+.

A return to a normal way of life in the north and east
Have any abductions or assaults been reported in the Northern or Eastern Province? Red
On the 12th of March 2015 it was reported that a 26 year old female, VishvalingamVinothinya, former LTTE fighter was abducted by Civil Defence Force members and was assaulted

Do former LTTE cadres still receive regular night time visits from the police and army? Red
Several former LTTE cadres have reported that surveillance continues unabated.

How many Tamil families remain internally displaced and in temporary accommodation? How much effort is the Government putting into resettlement, into allowing Tamil families to return to their own lands, and into restoring fishing rights? Red
At least 3000 families in the regions of Vempodukeni, Mukamalai and Ithavil alone are living as refugees. Recently the army has blocked displaced Tamils from visiting their own land.

Is there a plan to reduce troop numbers in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province and to move towards demilitarising Sri Lanka’s north and east? Red
No plans for demilitarisation have been announced and fresh orders have been given maintaining troop levels in Tamil areas.

Have checkpoints in the Northern Province preventing free movement to travellers, such as in Omanthai, been removed? And can foreigners travel to Sri Lanka’s Northern Province without having to get permission from the Ministry of Defence? Green
The requirement for tourists to register with the Ministry of Defence has been dropped. Omanthai checkpoint, and many other checkpoints, remain and the Government has announced that they have no plans to remove them.

Has the Government implemented a “Certificate of Absence” scheme, in lieu of a death certificate, for those who have been missing for a long time? Is this granted the same degree of legal recognition as a death certificate? Red
No such scheme has been implemented.

Has any compensation been given to war affected families and the families of the disappeared? Red
No comprehensive scheme for issuing compensation to war affected families and families of the disappeared has been implemented. Compensation by authorities has frequently been reported as being conditional upon abandonment of the truth by families.

Tamil grievances
Has there been any progress on a negotiated political solution which would allow Tamil people more autonomy and meaningful devolution? Red
There has been no concrete progress to date, however it is perhaps too early to expect any on such a complicated issue.

Have the Governor of the Northern Province and Chief Secretary of the Northern Province been replaced by a civilian and by a choice of the Chief Minister respectively? Green
The Governor of the Northern Province has been replaced by a civilian. A new Tamil speaking Chief Secretary was also appointed, although there is no indication that the Chief Minister had power over their selection.

Promoting peace and friendship between ethnicities
Has the government presented any concrete plans to promote peace and friendship between Sri Lanka’s different communities, for instance through implementing the recommendations in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report on reconciliation (9.167-9.285) and through expanding the National Plan of Action to include all the LLRC recommendations? Red
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have talked repeatedly about the need for a truth and reconciliation process but have given no indication that they actually understand what that would require in practice, and have occasionally given the concerning impression that they consider it to be some kind of alternative to an accountability process.
Full implementation of the LLRC recommendations was discussed with Commonwealth Secretary General Sharma but no follow up or concrete action has been announced.
UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice Pablo de Greiff outlined some of the problems Sri Lanka faces and the actions Sri Lanka needs to take following his recent trip.

Do the sanctions on 16 Tamil Diaspora organisations and 424 individuals remain in place? Amber
The sanctions remain in place. The Government of Sri Lanka has announced its intention to review the listbut has not yet done so.

Last modified on Friday, 24 April 2015 18:22
Copyrights protected: All the content on this website is copyright protected and can be reproduced only by giving the due courtesy to www.nation.lk' Copyright © 2011 Rivira Media Corporation Ltd., 742, Maradana Road,Colombo 10, Sri Lanka. Web Solution By Mithila Kumara | All rights reserved.