Sunday, February 18, 2018 10:47:14 PM

CONTINUING NEED FOR CIVIL SOCIETY PRESSURE ON GOVERNMENT–Jehan Perera

By Samantha - Mon Apr 18, 3:03 am

The political reforms taking place at the present time are subject to a major constraint. This stems from the fact that the government of national unity is a composite that includes a large number of members of the previous government. Many of them were part and parcel of the misgovernance and ethnic nationalism of the previous government. While a few of them joined President Maithripala Sirisena in leaving the government at the last moment, it is likely that they would be held legally and morally accountable if an investigation into the past would be conducted. The nature of the present government therefore precludes a clear break with the past.

In these circumstances, a danger to guard against would be the gap between new laws and institutions and their implementation. The previous government set up new mechanisms, such as a missing persons commission and military courts to investigate human rights violations that had taken place during the war. However, these failed to deliver justice to the victims and appeared to be stage managed for public relations purposes with the international community. They did not convince the victim communities or the international community, and gave further confirmation that the former government was not to be trusted.

The electoral and governmental changes since January 2015 have begun a process towards political reform that seeks to address the divisions and grievances of the past….

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