Thailand expresses interest in reconciliation, demining, developing prosthetics – Commends Sri Lanka’s national
reconciliation action plan
by Zacki Jabbar
A visiting official delegation from Thailand has commended Sri Lanka’s National Reconciliation Action Plan,while noting that back home its National Harmony Board encouraged negotiation based settlements to reduce overcrowding of courts and laws delays.
The tribute came during a recent meeting between the visitors led by Secretary General of Thailand’s National Office for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Pol. Lt. Col. Phongthon Thanyasri and officials from the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation (MNIR) headed by Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy, in Colombo.
The Thai delegation was here to study implementation of the Sirisena- Wickremesinghe governments post war reconciliation programme. The team included Thailand’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Policy and Planning Analyst at the Thai Justice Ministry, Nawarat Narkvichit and First Secretary in Colombo, Chotika Attapimon.
Sivagnanasothy said that he had spelt out the structural overview of the MNIR and explained the importance given to the reconciliation agenda, spearheaded by President Maithripala Sirisena, in his capacity as Minister in charge of the subject.
“The Thai delegates commended the logic of our National Reconciliation Action Plan and explained Thailand’s interventions such as National Harmony Board, which focuses on negotiation based settlements, to reduce overcrowding of courts and abridge delays in meeting out justice”, he noted adding that the visitors were also briefed on the establishment of the Independent Office on Missing Persons to trace the whereabouts and fate of people who had disappeared and the process of obtaining comprehensive information through Feedback Datasheet Forms from family members, certified by the Grama Niladhari and Divisional Secretariat, as a part of the transitional justice mechanism.
“They also took a keen interest in studying our District Reconciliation Committees (DRCs) and demining in war affected areas, with special emphasis on developing flexible prosthetics for those who had lost their limbs during the ethnic conflict”, Sivagnanasothy said. “There was mutual agreement on sharing and learning from experiences which would benefit both countries to formulate more result oriented reconciliation interventions.” He revealed that the discussions also centered on reconciliation being looked at, from the perspective of victims, perpetrators, local communities, government, international communities, diaspora and national and international civil society organisations.
Reconciliation interventions, Sivagnanasothy had explained covered all ethnicities and social infrastructure development work targeted vulnerable groups such as Internally Displaced Persons, refugee returnees, womenheaded families, war affected disabled families, rehabilitated ex-combatants, families of the missing persons and low-income poverty groups.
He said that all related programmes such as the declaration of National Integration and Reconciliation Week, Integration Friendly Schools, Integration Friendly Universities and Youth, Integration Friendly Media (Peace Journalism), DRCs to address religious and ethnic tensions , Economic Empowerment Project to promote reconciliation through establishing business linkages between the North and South , 50,000 housing programme for the conflict affected in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, high priority roads and bridges project, Myliddy Harbour development in the Northern Province, establishment of an economic centre in Jaffna and linking it to its counterpart in Dambulla, and schools and hospital development, were also explained in detail to the visiting delegates.
The MNIR delegation included State Secretary Sujan Nanayakkara, Additional Secretary R.P.R. Amarasinghe, Assistant Director Vaidehi Anushyanthan, and Assistant Secretary Nikarilkanth, Policy Planning and Coordination Assistant Segar Dhanukshaan and other officials.