Office of Reparations Bill passed

Published : 9:09 am  October 11, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   

The Office of Reparations Bill, which provides provisions for the payment of compensation for war affected persons, was passed with amendments in Parliament yesterday.  

 The second reading of the Bill was passed with a majority of 16 votes with 59 members voting for and 42 against.   

The draft Bill provides provisions to set up an Office for Reparations which will consist of five members appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitution Council and will be answerable to Parliament. Provision has been made for the functioning of regional, temporary or mobile offices as may be necessary, to ensure that reparations are accessible to victims and their relatives. 

The office is empowered to receive recommendations as to reparations from the Office of Missing Persons and to receive claims from victims of serious human rights violations for monetary and non-monetary reparations, to verify the authenticity of the claims and assess eligibility.   

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Bill is one of those the government had brought in to ensure reconciliation in the country. 

“It is necessary to verify if a person was affected by the war and to provide reparation to those persons,” he said. The Prime Minister said providing reparation has been the policy of the government since 1983 when the Rehabilitation of Persons and Properties Authority was established. “This will be repealed by this Bill,” he added.   

Joint opposition MP Susil Premajayantha questioned as to why the Bill had given weight to the people in the North and the East when it comes to paying compensation. 

“This Bill does not provide for reparation to be paid to those who were killed by bombs set off by the LTTE in Colombo. Don’t they have a right to reparation payments as well ?,” he asked.   

State Minister Ajith P. Perera said an amendment has been brought in to help such persons.   

Joint opposition MP Keheliya Rambukwella questioned as to how the government hopes to differentiate between a civilian and a terrorist. “Are you going to call a dead terrorist without any arms a civilian” he asked.   

JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said his party would support this Bill though they were not in agreement with some of its clauses.   

TNA Leader and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan said the legislation was a welcome move though late.