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LLRCThe LLRC Action Plan gives great weight to land questions, which makes a lot of sense. Solving problems relating to land ownership and usage would go a long way towards satisfying personal needs with regard to what we have described as Recovery in the Draft National Policy on Reconciliation. While government has done well with regard to the public aspects of Recovery, through large scale infrastructure projects and livelihood programmes, ensuring a sense of dignity requires affirmation of property rights.

Certainly in the several meetings of Reconciliation Committees I have participated in at Divisional Secretariats, it is questions of land that are brought up most frequently. Indeed, other aspects of the LLRC Action Plan are barely touched on, but this is of crucial importance if we are to achieve levels of contentment that will lead to healing.

But while swift satisfaction of these material needs is of the essence, there is another element in the Action Plan which I believe requires attention, since it is the key to resolving several other problems. I refer to the recommendation of the LLRC that legislation should be enacted to ensure the right to information. Unfortunately there is no time frame for this, and the Action Plan simply asks the Cabinet to decide on a suitable time frame for drafting legislation. The Media Ministry is cited as the key responsible agency and there are no Key Performance Indicators, simply a comment that the Cabinet Office will be the interface for the interaction with the Cabinet of Ministers on the acceptance of such legislation by the legislature.

Conversely the National Human Rights Action Plan, adopted by Cabinet about a year before the LLRC Action Plan, noted that the required activity was the adoption of legislation to ensure the right to information, and the Key Performance Indicator was that such legislation was adopted. A period of 1 year was given for this, with the Key Responsible Agency being the Ministry of Justice.

I can see why the Ministry of Justice thinks that this is not its business, and it should rather be dealt with by the Media Ministry. However, since the Right to Information was one of the important new elements in the draft Bill of Rights that had been prepared in accordance with the Mahinda Chintanaya of 2005, and since the Justice Ministry was supposed to review that draft in a period of one month, I feel they should have consulted all relevant Ministries, including the Media Ministry, and set out a plan of action. As it is, the delay has allowed a much less forthright approach in the LLRC Action Plan.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

January 2013
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