Sri Lanka’s newly passed Office of Reparations Bill must not be used to “sideline truth and justice” said Tamil National Alliance leader R Sampanthan in an address to the parliament on Thursday.
The bill, which was passed last week, has been criticised by Sri Lankan civil society for the fact the office would have no decision-making power or independence and would face excessive bureaucracy.
“This Bill is a very welcome feature,” said Sampanthan. “But it must not be used to sideline truth and justice. Truth and justice must always prevail. Even the issue of missing persons or the issue of reparations must be dealt with on the basis of truth and justice. The Office on Reparations should be able to formulate policies based upon truth and to ensure justice to all victims. That is fundamental.”
“The ascertainment of truth, the delivery of justice, the issue of accountability, reparations and non-recurrence are all fundamental components of the transitional justice process,” he added.
Sampanthan went on to state policy formulation for the office “must not be a matter that comes under the control of the Government”. “The Office for Reparations must have the freedom to act independently in this matter to formulate the required policies and be able to find avenues to offer reparation to persons who have been victimized,” he said.
Speaking on the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill, Sampanthan also called for the release of all prisoners held in custody on the basis of confessions they had made, stating that that as the new bill says confessions are inadmissible, their charges should be dismissed.
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