The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Media Release WAY FORWARD IS TO SHIFT FOCUS FROM ACCOUNTABILITY TO RECONCILIATION

23.03.2013       
A resolution titled “Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka” was passed at the conclusion of the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 21, 2013.  This US-sponsored resolution was opposed by Sri Lanka which lost the vote by 25 to 13 with 8 abstentions.  This is the second such resolution to be passed in the UNHRC calling on Sri Lanka to improve its performance with regard to post-war accountability and reconciliation.

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PERMITTING PROTEST IS PART OF DEMOCRACY -- Media Release 07-02-2013

A protest to be held in Colombo, intended to culminate in the handing over of a petition to the UN office, organized by northern civic groups under the banner of the Families of Disappeared, and supported by the National Peace Council, was blocked by the police in Vavuniya in the North.  According to participants, the reason given by the Police was that they could not guarantee the safety of the travelers in the night. The family members were surrounded by Police and did not allow them to leave. The buses they were going to travel on were blocked by Police trucks.  When contacted by the organizers, the Inspector General of Police had said he was not aware of what had transpired and shown polite interest.

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President’s Acts of Goodwill need to become Institutionalised by All State Actors--Media Release

15.02.13

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.

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GOVERNMENT MUST MAKE UP FOR OPPORTUNITY NOT TAKEN ON INDEPENDENCE DAY -- Media Release

06.02.13
The government held the 65th Independence Day celebration in Trincomalee in the former war zone of the East to emphasise perhaps the territorial unity of the country that had been secured after the ending of the war.   The historical significance of this national day should be that it represents the collective effort of the country’s diverse peoples, including Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims to obtain their freedom from foreign rule.  In his speech on the occasion President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasised the importance of inter-community and inter-religious harmony and said he would not tolerate any breakdown in the bonds that bind the different communities together due to action by extremist forces who would do worse to the country than the terrorism from which it had emerged.  The National Peace Council welcomes this commitment by the President and hopes he will follow up his words with action to prevent the deliberate spreading of communal and religious hatred.

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21.01.2013 Media Release

PROTECT THOSE WHO DISSENTED AGAINST IMPEACHMENT

The appointment of a new Chief Justice following the impeachment of the former one has brought the public protest campaign to an end.  There were strenuous efforts on both sides to demonstrate they had people’s power with them.  The work of bridging the ethnic and political divides and bringing reconciliation and binding up the wounds of war remain this country's greatest challenge.  Indeed that is what the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the government has also said.

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Media Release

12.01.13                                           Media Release

IMPLICATIONS OF REJECTING THE SUPREME COURT’S INTERPRETATION OF IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

The Sri Lanka Parliament vote to impeach the Chief Justice has been in total disregard of the judicial decision by the country’s two highest courts- the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal  that the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee have no basis in law and are invalid.  Now this extra-legal process of impeachment awaits the President’s final decision.  However, the power of interpretation of the Constitution lies solely with the Supreme Court.  The decision of the Supreme Court means that the Chief Justice is legally entitled to hold office, notwithstanding the Parliamentary vote. The legal fraternity has said they will not accept a new Chief Justice appointment under these circumstances.   The National Peace Council hopes that the President’s decision will be a wise one, and in accordance with the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which every elected person in the two organs of State have sworn to uphold.

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DEAL WITH THE PAST CONSTRUCTIVELY

            Media Release


DEAL WITH THE PAST CONSTRUCTIVELY


The events surrounding the attempts by students of Jaffna University to commemorate those who died in the war, unless speedily corrected, has the potential to inflame ethnic tensions and obstruct the post war reconciliation process.  The students were lighting lamps on November27, the date formerly commemorated by the LTTE as their Heroes Day.  This was broken up by the security forces who also arrested some of the students.

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Justice must be seen to be done

Media Release
JUSTICE MUST BE SEEN TO BE DONE


The Government has tabled a motion in Parliament to impeach the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake that sets out 14 charges against her, including some relating to her personal finances. Government spokesmen have assured that the motion is not motivated by any displeasure caused by such judgments and that it is based on alleged acts of misconduct by the Chief Justice. However, it is significant that the Supreme Court has recently given several judgments against the State including one that has upheld the devolved power of provincial councils, which is necessary for inter-ethnic power sharing. It is also significant that there have been several other instances of gross misconduct by members of the government that have involved criminal acts and loss of public funds that have gone without proper investigation and without punishment. This has given rise to speculation that the Executive and Judicial arms of government have been on collision course.

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PRESERVING INDEPENDENCE OF JUDICIARY IS MOST IMPORTANT

11.10.12

Media Release

PRESERVING INDEPENDENCE OF JUDICIARY IS MOST IMPORTANT

Recent decisions of the judiciary at the lower and upper levels have instilled greater confidence in the viability of a system of checks and balances that is necessary in a functioning democracy and which is enshrined in our Constitution. The assault on the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission has occurred after the Secretary issued a public statement deploring alleged interference in the matters falling within the sphere of the Judiciary. The ruling party even convened a media conference and made statements to dispel fears that the government was seeking to impeach the Chief Justice.

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Human Rights, LLRC and Visit of OHCHR Expert Team

The visit of a 3 member technical team from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva this week will be a follow up on the March 2012 Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka that called for the  implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.   The visit has led to apprehensions about the internationalization of the country’s internal problems. But it also presents an opportunity for the government and civil society to obtain international expertise to remedy shortcomings that exist with regard to governance in the country.  It is the view of the National Peace Council that that the most serious problems facing Sri Lanka lie in the domain of impunity,  breakdown of the rule of law, over-concentration of political power, treatment of war-affected people and lack of progress in finding an overall and mutually acceptable political solution.

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