-Sagala Ratnayaka - Minister of Law & Order
Fresh concern has been expressed over the failure to follow proper procedure when carrying out arrests of former-LTTE cadres, among others in the North last month.
Following the discovery of a cache of weapons used by the LTTE in the north last month leading to security concerns that the LTTE is seeking to regroup, there has been many arrests including of former LTTE cadres who had failed to surrender to the government at the end of the war nor gone through the required rehabilitation process.
“It is reported that there have been over 23 arrests in the past month. This has led to opposition parties to claim that national security is under threat by the LTTE and those who continue to support it. On the other hand, these arrests, and the manner in which they are taking place, are creating a sense of fear and foreboding amongst the people in the north,” the National Peace Council said.
The National Peace Council is concerned about reports from the north which indicate that legal procedures have not been followed in the case of many of these arrests. “One of the most feared features of the previous government was its utilization of security forces personnel to take away those it perceived to be threats, enemies or suspects in what became known as “white van abductions.” Although the new government recognized the flawed nature of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which has lower protections for suspects, and pledged to review and repeal it, the law remains in force and security forces continue to use it,” NPC said.
The present government won two successive national elections last year on the votes of ethnic and religious minorities who had become the focus of governmental impunity and virtually unanimously voted against the former government. The government has also committed itself to a process of transitional justice in which the truths about the past will be ascertained, accountability for war crimes and human rights violations will be ensured which include the wrongs of all sides, and there will be institutional reforms so that the past does not recur.
“The National Peace Council calls on the government to remain committed to its pledge to move forward in accordance with internationally accepted standards in a manner that will heal the wounds of the past and rebuild trust between the ethnic and religious communities and the state. We also call upon the TNA, as the main representatives of the Tamil people, to strengthen the confidence of the general population in its commitment to democracy by dissociating itself from the LTTE and its acts of violence and terror even as it continues to fight for the political rights of the Tamil polity in the country,” the NPC added in a statement.