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Mr Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak on an Adjourment Motion that seeks to strengthen the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka. This is an admirable aim, and I will give the mover of this motion the benefit of the doubt, and treat that as his principal aim. It would be a pity then if we allowed ourselves to be distracted, in discussing the matter, by efforts to make petty political points, as he seemed to do in his speech, or rather his performance.

Unfortunately much of the text of the motion brought before this House deals with the aftermath of terrorism, and goes against one of the most important principles in the administration of Justice, graphically expressed by Shakespeare in the lines

Earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

This was the principle government decided to adopt in dealing with former combatants. In fact, whereas earlier it had thought three of the seven categories into which former LTTE combatants were divided might be prosecuted, it has released almost all of them. Just a few in the category of the most committed remain in custody, but most of them too will soon be released. And while the majority of these were conscripts, forced to fight, so that the sympathy with which we have dealt with them is understandable, government has also decided to send for rehabilitation rather than prosecution many of those who had been detained on suspicion of terrorism before the conflict concluded. So, while I agree with the Hon TNA member, about the need for quicker resolution of those cases, what has already been done should be recognized. That is why the LLRC Action Plan Task Force should have a website to set down what has been achieved, as well as timelines for further action.

In such a context, to go on and on about extradition with regard to a particular case smacks of cynicism. It betrays an unwillingness to move forward, and suggests a very old fashioned approach to justice.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

November 2012
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