Sweeping reforms, including Senate, for reconciliation

A proposed National Policy on Reconciliation calls for an amendment to the Constitution to create a Senate. Legislation in particular areas should require the consent of two thirds of the Senate in addition to two thirds of Parliament or the First Chamber.

This is one of the highlights of a set of proposals formulated by the Presidential Advisor on Reconciliation, Rajiva Wijesinha. He has been assisted in the task by law lecturer Salma Yusuf.

This 12-page report notes that the current time frame provided in the Constitution to get the constitutionality of proposed legislation verified by the Supreme Court is grossly inadequate. It says that the government should make endeavours to reach a consensus on an appropriate constitutional amendment to provide an adequate time frame to challenge proposed legislation.

Here are other significant highlights among the recommendations. nThe Government shall make every effort to give full effect to the Interim and Final Recommendations of the LLRC so as to maintain the confidence of the people in the reconciliation process.

nThe Government shall work comprehensively and cohesively to implement the National Action Plan on Human Rights that has been adopted by Cabinet, with particular attention to improving the capacities of and faith in the police, to ensuring better protection mechanisms for women and children, and to streamlining the judicial system to promote confidence in its operations.

  • The State shall put in place mechanisms that facilitate the acknowledgement of losses and suffering on all sides, accompanied by expressions of empathy and solidarity.
  • Recognizing that the ensuing minority grievances stem from deficiencies in the system of administration and lack of good governance that affect all citizens regardless of ethnicity, will ensure that every citizen who has a grievance out of any executive or administrative act, particularly those based on ethnicity or religion, should have the right to seek redress before an independent institution.
  • In order to ensure that there is no political interference in the public service and that recruitment and promotions in the public service are in conformity with the equality provisions in the Constitution, the Government shall work towards the establishment of an Independent Public Service Commission without delay. Measures shall also be taken to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the police with regard to the appointment process as well as in their functioning.
  • Efforts should be made to make the public service and the police inclusive of all communities with special attention to ensuring adequate representation of the population in any area.
  • Ensuring at least bilingualism in the public service and other professions serving the public, whilst nationally the culture of trilingualism should be fostered by making passes in any two of the National Languages compulsory, along with Mathematics, at the GCE Ordinary Level Examination.
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