Their absence has left former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, who now heads the government’s Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), to receive the report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanism (CTFSL) at the Colombo Presidential Secretariat from the head of CTFSL Manouri Muttetuwegama, in the presence of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and leader of the main opposition and Tamil National Alliance Rajavarodayam Sampanthan.
The Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM)in a twitter message said "CTF report handed over to Govt. Former President CBK accepted it on behalf of H.E the President who was indisposed and was unable to attend".
It said that CTFSL’s report will be available on its website on January 4th.
However, the two leaders of the unity government were earlier in the day seen attending a function to inaugurate the construction of a multi-million-dollar vehicle assembly plant of German auto maker, Volkswagen in the north western town of Kuliyapitiya.
Initially, the CTFSL was scheduled to hand over its report based on public consultations across the country, to the President on December 21, but the event was postponed at the eleventh hour.
This is for the second time within a matter of two weeks that the President has demonstrated his indifference towards the report that contains views and recommendations on matters relating to accountability and post-war reconciliation.
The 11-member CTFSL was established by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last January to meet some requirements of the UNHRC resolution.
It was tasked to conduct public consultations on the mechanisms for accountability, truth, reparations and non-recurrence in Sri Lanka – the four pillars of transitional justice process. The CTFSL subsequently had held public sessions across the country, mainly in the war-ravaged Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.
Many war affected Tamils in the north appeared before this task force and demanded an international war crimes probe if the government’s reconciliation effort to see any success.
Earlier last month the CTFSL announced that it has readied its consultation-based report and waiting for appointments with the President and the Prime Minister to hand over.
The UN Human Rights Council in October 2015 adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with the participation of foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators to probe alleged war crimes.
Despite co-sponsoring the resolution, Sri Lanka of late has rejected the inclusion of foreign elements in what it wants to be a domestic mechanism.
Sri Lanka is slated to make a written submission in March 2017 to the UNHRC on the progress it made in fully implementing the UN resolution.
(By Ramanan Weerasingham – jdslanka.org)