The Government today assured the European Union (EU) that it will remedy the root causes of injustice, discrimination and prejudice that have spawned hate and violence for many decades in Sri Lanka.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that the Government is deeply committed to make its vision of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Sri Lanka based on the principles of equality, justice and meritocracy a reality for all Sri Lankans.
“Let me re-iterate that the Government is firm in its resolve to continue the historic journey that we undertook with the mandate of the people on 8th of January. In this journey, the Government considers the international community, including the EU, an important partner. If reconciliation is to succeed, trade, investment and development cooperation are essential and I look to the EU to partner Sri Lanka in this process,” the Minister said.
He was speaking at the 19th Session of the Sri Lanka – EU Joint Commission held at the Foreign Ministry in Colombo today with the participation of a high level EU delegation, including Ugo Astuto, the Acting Managing Director of the Asia and Pacific Division at the European External Action Service.
The Minister noted that the Cabinet of Ministers had already identified and approved the release of one thousand acres of land from the high security zone and title deeds for 425 acres of this land were handed over to their rightful owners on 23rd March.
In a significant step, the practice of singing the National Anthem in Tamil was revived at the ceremony held on this occasion, where both the President and the Prime Minister were present.
The UN Country Team which includes UNHCR is in active discussion with the Ministry of Resettlement and other relevant entities to work out resettlement plans for the internally displaced.
“We urge the EU to extend assistance to this important programme,” he said.
The Minister said that discussions are already underway to look at ways and means of expanding the scope of human rights in line with internationally accepted standards.
Recognising that the previous Government failed to implement the recommendations of the Commissions that were set up at the time, including those made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the Foreign Minister said that action is now being taken to explore steps that can be taken in this regard.
“This includes examining incidents identified by these Commissions as serious violations of human rights which warrant further investigations and a criminal justice response. The content of the Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka when it is released in Septemberwill be taken into account by domestic investigative and judicial mechanisms which we envisage setting up. The Government has already begun discussions regarding the nature of local mechanisms that should be put in place for this purpose including amendments to existing laws,” he added.
The Minister also said that as a country that has suffered from terrorism for many decades, Sri Lanka is appreciative of the prompt action taken by the European Council to appeal the decision of the General Court of the EU to annul the Council Implementation Regulation applicable to the listing of the LTTE as a terrorist entity.
He said Sri Lanka welcomes the recent announcement with regard to the continued listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organization in the EU adding that Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and is committed to working with the EU and Member States in this regard.(Colombo Gazette)