For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Perhaps the greatest tragedy that has befallen Sri Lanka in the post-war phrase is the tying up of the question of justice solely to the alleged abuses inflicted on civilians during the last stages of the conflict in the North in May 2009 at the hands of the then administration and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Demand for democracy to rest on justice imperatives
The truth therefore lies in neither of these two convenient ultra-nationalist corners. Rather, it is in the acknowledgement that the defects in Sri Lanka’s justice systems are not limited in their reach to the minorities or to a particular administration. Instead, these defects are historic, endemic and systemic and have resulted in grievous wrongs to both the majority and the minorities.
To correct these, we need sober and reasoned thinking and not cosmetic bandages by way of Human Rights Commissions or for that matter, Lessons Learnt Commissions. All our lessons have anyway now been learnt to their most bitter dregs. What we need are corrections in our basic constitutional and justice systems. This includes (at the minimum) the abolition of the privileges given by law to the holder of the office of the Executive Presidency and the securing of firm independence of our constitutional institutions, most importantly the judiciary.
Public demand for improved democracy in Sri Lanka must rest on these imperatives and assuredly none other.
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