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Govt probe panel given extension

world Updated: Nov 10, 2010 00:31 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A government panel set up to look into the civil war has been given an additional six months to submit its report.

The mandate of the eight-member Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), set up President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May, was extended on the ground that a large number of persons from within the country as well as abroad were yet to depose before it.

The LLRC was expected to report on the lessons to be learnt from the events that occurred between February 2002 and May 2009, their attendant concerns and to recommend measures to ensure that there will be no recurrence of such a situation. The Commission is chaired by the former attorney general CR de Silva.

The mandate of the LLRC was to expire on November 15. It will now be able to continue hearings and submit its reports until May 16, 2011.

The Commission has held public hearings in Colombo and in the conflict affected areas of Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Kilinochchi. This included field visits to meet people directly affected by the conflict. It spent three days each in these areas where people in large numbers, at times around 500 a day came before the Commission and expressed their grievances, explained the trauma undergone and hardships faced, and also suggested remedial measures and aspects of reconciliation, S. B. Atugoda, Secretary to the Commission said.

So far more than 100 persons including political activists, social workers, academia, members of clergy, those engaged in conflict resolution and representatives from non-governmental organisations have given evidence before the Commission. The LLRC is expected to visit more places affected by the conflict in the coming period.

The LLRC however has come under stringent criticism from international agencies like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International who say the Commission has no credibility and will not be able to submit an independent report. Declining to depose before the LLRC, they have given a call for an independent international probe into the allegations of human rights violations as the civil war came to an end in May, 2009.