Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation


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The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was appointed by His Excellency  President Mahinda Rajapaksa in terms of the Presidential Warrant dated 15 th May 2010.1 The Commission’s mandate was to look back at the conflict Sri Lanka suffered as well as to look ahead for an era of healing and peace building in the country.

Sri Lanka now faces a moment of unprecedented opportunity. Rarely does such an opportunity come along without equally important attendant challenges. This is especially true of any meaningful effort towards post-conflict peace building following a protracted conflict. Sri Lanka’s case is no exception. Terrorism and violence have ended. Time and space have been created for healing and building sustainable peace and security so that the fruits of democracy and citizenship can be equitably enjoyed by all Sri Lankans. To this end, the success of ending armed conflict must be invested in an all-inclusive political process of dialogue and accommodation so that the conflict by other means will not continue.

The Commission was gratified to learn from people who appeared before it, that the promise of the present  pportunity far outweighs the burden of attendant challenges.

Having listened to these views from all corners of the country and from all strata of society, the Commission is inclined to share this optimism despite some uncertainties that still loom. However, if these expectations were to become a reality in the form of a multi-ethnic nation at peace with itself in a democratic Sri Lanka, the Government and all political leaders must manifest political will and sincerity of purpose to take the necessary decisions to ensure the good-faith implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.

Based on what it heard from the people, the Commission is confident that the citizens are ready and willing to support consensual approaches advancing national interest, national reconciliation, justice and equality for all citizens, so long as the political leaders take the lead in a spirit of tolerance, accommodation and compromise. The required decisions in this regard touch upon a broad spectrum of issues that are the subject matter of comment and recommendations contained in the present report. These relate to a number of vital questions that are indispensable to any good-faith attempt at reconciliation and peace-building.

The Commission hopes that its observations and recommendations would provide pointers to areas where such decisions are needed, sooner rather than later. These areas include governance, devolution, human rights, international humanitarian law, socio economic development, livelihood issues, issues affecting hearts and minds, leadership issues and many more. While not being an exhaustive agenda to address, let alone cure, all ills of post conflict Sri Lanka, the recommendations of the Commission could nevertheless constitute a framework for action by all stakeholders, in particular the Government, political parties and community leaders. This framework would go a long way in constructing a platform for consolidating post conflict peace and security as well as amity and cooperation within and between the diverse communities in Sri Lanka. The Commission therefore urges that effect be given to its recommendations and encourages the promotion of public awareness of the contents and implementation of these measures. Such a course of action would help all communities to live in peace and harmony and ensure that no room is left for terrorism and violence to raise their ugly head again. In formulating its recommendations, the Commission took into account inter alia the following, based on the citizens’ views it heard:

• Historical, social and political factors that point to the causes of ethnic and citizen grievances;
• The facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement in 2002, with a view to finding lessons that can be learnt to avoid such failures in the  future;
• Sri Lanka’s experience in dealing with terrorism and the effects of the culture of violence on good governance, law and order and civilian life;
• The events that unfolded from February, 2002 to May, 2009, and specially the incidents that took place during the armed conflict after the Mavil Aru incident; these events and incidents were examined in the context of the International Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Law and related, inter alia, to the following:

- obligation to educate the members of the armed forces in the relevant aspects of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law;
- measures taken to safeguard civilians and to avoid civilian casualties during military operations;
- establishment of No Fire Zones and the LTTE strategy of using human shields
- supply of humanitarian relief including food and medicine to civilians in conflict areas;
- medical facilities and medical supplies during the final stages of the conflict;
- conduct of the Security Forces during the movement of civilians and combatants to cleared areas;
- alleged disappearances;
- allegations concerning abductions;
- treatment of detainees; and,
- conscription of children by the LTTE and other armed groups.

• Issues relating to land matters, specially as regards settling the returnees and resettlement of the IDPs;
• Restitution/Compensatory Relief:
• Post Conflict issues that affect vulnerable groups and the citizens at large; and
• Policies and measures that will promote reconciliation through healing, amity and unity.

A summary of the principal observations and recommendations is set out in Chapter 9