|Wednesday, 2 April 2003|
Please forward your comments to the Editor, Daily News.
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Snail mail : Daily News, 35, D.R. Wijewardana Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Telephone : 94 1 429429 / 331181
Fax : 94 1 429210
Vital step in re-democratization
The news that the Government and the LTTE would be formulating a joint human rights and humanitarian principles declaration should be warmly welcomed by all seeking an early resolution of the vexatious issue of human rights abuses.
Commitment to human rights is, of course, one thing and implementation another, but we have here evidence that some distance has been traversed in meeting public concerns that human rights principles need to be observed by particularly the LTTE in its dealings with the civilian populace of the North-East.
If the National Question is to be resolved satisfactorily the re-democratization of Lanka should be forged ahead with. These need to be considered two sides of the same coin - which is the ushering in of peace. Democratization, it goes without saying, is unthinkable without the provision and granting of fundamental rights to all sections of the people. In other words, the granting and the realisation of fundamental rights forms an integral part of the peace process.
We could be glad that the LTTE has seemingly come to this realisation and is showing willingness to pledge allegiance to a human rights document, which, besides meeting some universal standards of democracy, would help in rehumanising the Lankan State. It is only through a re-humanisation program of this kind that the gun culture which cast a long shadow over this land for long, could be gradually weeded out and eliminated.
Child rights have been of particular concern in the North-East context, but of equal significance is the granting and protection of the rights of the Muslim and Sinhala communities in the North-East. This will be a special responsibility of the LTTE, considering the principal role it is likely to play in the affairs of the Region. Indeed, a human rights charter would have to take pride of place in any future constitution, providing for a federal system of government.
So, from the point of view of the re-democratization of Sri Lanka, considerable progress could be said to be in the process of being achieved with the drawing-up of the joint GoSL-LTTE human rights declaration. However, a major task for the future is the concrete realization of this joint pledge. In other words, pledges on paper need to be translated into action.
Accordingly, once the declaration has been formulated, practical enforcement mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that words are translated into deeds. The need will be also great for a monitoring mechanism to guarantee strict adherence on the part of the signatories to the declaration, with the terms of the agreement.
These tasks could, perhaps, devolve on specialized UN agencies such as UNICEF and UNHCR, since they would be playing a significant role in the human rights propagation program.
Produced by Lake House