The government is also fast tracking a process of constitutional reform with a draft document expected before the budget in November. It has restored law and order and improved the sense of security of the ethnic and religious minorities. On the other hand, the government has yet to deliver on many commitments, including repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, restoration to people of land taken over by the military, the significant reduction of military presence in the North and East and, most controversially within the country and internationally, the involvement of foreign judges and legal personnel in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism.
The National Peace Council emphasizes the importance of winning the confidence and support of the general public for these reform efforts. The strength of Sri Lanka’s present reform processes is that they have the concurrence of the political leaderships of the major political parties. However, the outcome of the Brexit referendum in the UK shows that the majority of people must not be made to feel alienated by processes they are either ignorant of, or over which they feel they have no control.
The government has enlisted civil society organizations to conduct public consultations on the proposed transitional justice mechanism with a limited time frame having done the same with regard to constitutional reforms earlier in the year. We call for an expanded process of public engagement so that viable reforms that have the people’s understanding and acceptance are developed especially if there is to be a referendum to implement constitutional change.
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.