The Government, during a series of mobile programmes in the Northern Province (NP) over the weekend, distributed Rs. 100 million as reparations to aggrieved persons who were affected by the war against LTTE terrorism.
The mobile services were conducted as part of the ‘Access to Justice’ programme by the Justice Ministry in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya districts, with the objective of laying a solid foundation for long-term peace and reconciliation in the country through cultural diversity and unity among communities.
Highlighting that the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) and the Office of Reparations (OR) have been rendering a great service to the people in the North and the East, Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris pointed out that the three-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry, headed by Supreme Court Judge A.H.M. Nawaz has visited Jaffna and held a large number of interviews. The Commission was appointed in January last year to review the findings and recommendations in the reports of preceding Commissions and Committees on past human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations.
“More than 55 people have testified before Justice Nawaz.All these attempts to come to your doorstep reflect the success of the Government’s programme,” Prof. Peiris said on Saturday addressing the inauguration of the ‘Access to Justice’ Special Mobile Service at Jaffna Central College.
“We are proud of our cultural diversity.The Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa regards this whole country as one. We don’t truncate it. We don’t think in terms of North and South, East and West. Whatever programmes we devise are for the well-being of all our people without any distinction as to religion, ethnicity or caste. The well-being of the entire Nation is the motivation underpinning all these programmes being implemented by the Government,” the Minister remarked.
“We can claim, with every justification, that Sri Lanka has one the finest legal systems, not just in South Asia but even on a global scale. We have a legal system of the highest quality. But however good the legal and judicial systems may be, it will not serve the people of our country unless there is access to justice. If the legal system is accessible only to the affluent people, the rich people, then it would not serve the needs of our people.
“Our judicial system must be readily available to ordinary people, who do not have large resources at their command, who do not have access to the centres of power. The judicial system must touch their lives at every point. They must feel that if there is a grievance or injustice, they can go to the Court and get it rectified without undue delay, expense and technicality. It must be a system that must be characterised by simplicity and accessibility. Then only people will appreciate the judicial system they have,” Prof. Peiris commented.
Commending the Justice Ministry’s initiative as very opportune, Prof. Peiris commended the commencement of the Programme from the Northern Province.
“As the Foreign Ministry, we are very eager to go to different parts of the country and find the priorities of the people. We must respond to those actual requirements. It cannot be a top-down approach,” he added.
Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC,said the Government is working hard for national unity and reconciliation. Observing that many programmes have been launched to enhance the efficiency of the justice system, Minister Sabry requested the support of all to make those endeavours a success.
Letters of appointment for Sudden Death Inquirers and Justices of the Peace were also handed over at the event. Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thyagaraja, State Minister Jeevan Thondaman and Justice Ministry Secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne were also present.