President’s Acts of Goodwill need to become Institutionalised by All State Actors
| A statement issued by the The National Peace Council
(February 15, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) During his recent visit to Jaffna, President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the release of two university students who had been sent for rehabilitation by the army. This followed a personal appeal by the parents of the students to the President. This is a positive indication of the President’s interest in the reconciliation process. The students had been detained by the security forces following a lamp lighting ceremony on former LTTE Heroes Day on November 27, 2012. Although there were many protests and appeals by the university authorities and human rights organizations, the government did not heed them until the President’s personal gesture.
The National Peace Council is happy at the President’s personal intervention to release the two university students. If not for the President’s action, they would have lost a year of their personal liberty due to arbitrary executive action as a result of their symbolic action of lighting lamps. We also express our concern that public institutions that are vested with authority to act, such as the police and Human Rights Commission and the Ministry in charge need to be empowered to act justly in such cases. The failure of those systems means that the President has felt obliged to use his executive power for intervention personally.
What the country needs are systems of governance that ensure justice and inclusion of all sections of the people. We need a political leadership that is just and more importantly a state that is just. In a modern government the Chief Executive does not personally take decisions which are delegated to responsible authorities is a systematic manner. Such delegation of authority works smoothly and only decisions which are likely to have political implications are reserved for the political leadership if those entrusted with implementation think they cannot take the responsibility owing to its political implications. Since governance is according to law, those charged with such authority are expected to act according to the law and due process of law. We believe that Sri Lanka needs to move on from arbitrary rule of men to the rule of Law as recommended by the LLRC.
Next month Sri Lanka will be making its response to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva regarding its implementation of the constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the President. The recommendations made by the LLRC include administrative actions that need to be taken in the short term to enable victims of human rights violations to enjoy their human rights and new institutional mechanisms to strengthen the Rule of Law and good governance. Moral power and achievements flowing out of implementing the LLRC recommendations will be evident when the government, together with citizens, is actively engaged in the process. This will enable the international community to recognize positive outcomes of the LLRC recommendations.
Governing Council :- The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.