The government has agreed to establish district based reconciliation committees to strengthen the process in light of recent incidents of religious tensions.
Accordingly, based on the Cabinet Memorandum submitted by the President in his capacity as a Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, the Cabinet of Minister granted approval to establish District Level Reconciliation Committees to address the incidence of inter-religious and inter-ethnic tensions and to promote national integration and reconciliation in all 25 districts.
“The District Level Reconciliation Committee to be convened by the District Secretary of the relevant District with representation of inter- religious leaders, the Superintendent of Police, retired Judges, School Principles and other relevant officials as observers,” said V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.
In a statement, the Secretary said that after the end of conflict in May 2009, there were isolated pockets of incidence of ethnic, religious, and regional extremism at a very small scale fueled by very few extreme elements.
“These recent incidence could have been arrested through a proper institutional mechanism,” he added.
According to Sivagnanasothy, the functions of the District Level Reconciliation Committee would be to undertake study on the background and causes of religious and ethnic tensions in the locality ; formulate suitable strategy and approach to mediate the problems ; provide rapid response to resolve conflicts and tensions ; invite the perpetrators and victims and mediate conflict resolution ; maintain database on incidence of tensions and attacks on religious places; mediate, negotiate and resolve conflicts and prevent hate speeches.
“The District Level Reconciliation Committees should resolve problems amicably and where necessary submit recommendations on unresolved matters to the National Reconciliation Committee through the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.”
The statement added that the Cabinet Memorandum also recommended that the mechanism should not in anyway disturb the law and order arrangements and rights in the country.
“The District Level Reconciliation Committee and the proposed institutional mechanism should help to address the isolated pockets of incidence of religious and ethnic extremism and help to sustain a durable peace in the country,” Sivagnanasothy added.