Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday that the truth would be sought but that it would not result in retribution, as the past would be put aside.
He said so at the launch of the law students' journal, ‘Manuwara’ at the Law College last evening.
“The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) will lead to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The truth may be ugly. But we can live with that. Truth should not lead to retribution. We should put the past behind us. We have a future ahead. There may be different ideas from time to time and different concepts. How do we do it like any other country? Our systems have to be strong enough. India went through this once in the 1970s under Ms Gandhi. Their system was strong enough and recovered. Our system can also recover and is recovering,” he said, outlining what would be done after the OMP takes up cases of missing persons.
He said prosecution, if necessary, would be according to the existing laws in Sri Lanka
“If there is to be prosecution we can do it under our law. We had a system which was trusted. We had cases. The rapes in Jaffna, Kokodichcholai and a few other places. No one complained. Some were acquitted, some were convicted. There were no complaints about the trials. Our systems were not functioning. But now that they are functioning we should not be afraid. Let’s try and strengthen them. Let’s take steps to rectify situations. I am not saying you should conduct a witch-hunt where some young army officers may be tried,” he said.
He said there may be a few cases of human right violations. “There may be a few cases against some who are dead. There can’t be many. A large number of people were killed. So we are opening this missing person’s office. It is for the future also. It will deal with cases of students who have gone missing and journalists like Ekneligoda. Just find out the information about them and put it on record. We would all like to know how many are missing. You might say some one is missing but you may suddenly find out that the man is living well in Denmark,” he said.
“You have a war, a conflict. When you try to bring it under control there are violations of human rights. There is no country in which this has not happened. We are open about it. We discuss it. You can’t hide it. We tried to hide it. We said we can’t have cases. But we had a case and threw a man in jail. We had a case, we tried one man -- Army Commander Fonseka. We threw him in jail in white flag case. How can you say you can’t have a trial after this? We appointed the Paranagama Commission and some say, "Don’t publish the report". We can’t go on for ever and ever with this issue,” he said.
"In the end there should be reconciliation. Deaths have occurred, killings have taken place. There are no leaders on one side. All are dead now, except for one man who was brought back and kept somewhere in Kilinochchi. Let’s go for reconciliation.” he said. (Yohan Perera)