TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION FORUM (TRF)
After the 2015 presidential, General elections and formation of the coalition government (UNP, SLFP with other selected minority political parties) established the recommendations agreed upon the UN Human Rights session 30/1 and some of the following recommended establishments were formed at the local level to rebuild peace, reconciliation and harmony under the process of implementing transitional justice in Sri Lanka.
1. Secretariat for Coordination and Reconciliation Mechanism (SCRM)
2. Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR)
3. Ministry of National Unity and Reconciliation
4. Ministry of Official Language ,Co- existences and Reconciliation
In the meantime, during the year 2016, ISD with support of International coalitions of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) initiated few dialogues with the victims affected during thirty years war. These discussions were held in Jaffna, Kiliknochi, Trincomalee, Batticalloa, Monaragala and Galle. Mostly war widows and mothers of the victims participated. The outcome of the dialogue was similar at all regions on requesting to establish stable peace, reconciliation and harmony among all religious, ethnic and linguistic groups.
Thereafter in the same year a dialogue was held with secretaries of the ministries, district secretaries representatives from the ministry of defense, officials from court Marshal of the Sri Lanka army, Sri Lanka Police and the Minister for Ministry of Official Language, Co-existence and Reconciliation were participated. The purpose of the meeting was to highlight with outcomes of focus group discussions held with victim families. At this meeting it was decided to form a network at local level covering all 25 districts to establish truth, justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Also ISD invited selected civil societies organizations for a dialogue at district level to establish a network. The selection criteria for the network, CSO should have a background of human rights and experience in lobbing human right violation during the war. TRF members should not have any political background or linkages with paramilitary groups and also bias for an ethnic or religious group.
Finally end of 2016, The Truth and Reconciliation Forum (TRF) was formed and established in all 25 districts with eleven executive committee members with aforesaid criteria. These Exco members are representing as provincial coordinators and rest will be the district coordinators to act as the focal point of TRF in their respective districts. Also ISD will act as an implementing partner for the TRF network. The TRF mechanism which was established in entire country: is the one and only network with the participation of multi ethnic, religious and multi-linguistic civil society members.
The objective of the Truth and Reconciliation Forum (TRF)
- All ethnicities should enjoy equally the benefits of Transitional Justice when implemented
- All Sri Lankan citizens should equally enjoy Sustainable peace, Social Justice Principles, Human values, Loving Kindness and Tolerance
After establishing the TRF network in all 25 districts the TRF provincial and district coordinators (TRF focal points) were capacitated in the following workshops by the international TJ&R experts until 2019.
- In country Documentation and Archiving
- Community participation In Transitional Justice
- Transitional Justice and dialogue workshop for youths
- Transitional Justice and Media Responsibility
- Intensive Transitional Justice for local women Organization
- Body Mapping
- Oral History Documentation
- Roles and responsibility of Office on Missing Persons
- Webinar discussion on experience sharing with Nepal victims
- Atrocity and violence Prevention
As a result of the above initiations ISD was able to establish 25 regional focal points of TRF. And also a network was formed for the TRF. The above trainings supported the provincial and district coordinators, enhanced their knowledge on TJ&R and initiated Transitional Justice activities in their respective districts with support of civil societies and government authorities. Mostly these trainings were conducted to the government officers, youths, women leaders, community based organizations, local media personals, trishaw drivers and selected police officers in selected districts. As a result of this sensitization the above target groups were able to understand the TJ process and the process of government initiations on reconciliation. Also the target groups re-corrected the misperception about the TJ&R process and shown increased interests on the process. In the meantime, selected civil society members accepted the reality and support for the TJ&R process.
In certain districts the selected civil societies, government officials recognize the TRF for its initiations on TJ&R at the locality. The Truth and Reconciliation Forum is also acting as a facilitator to lobby the issues related to healthy reconciliation therefore locality had built a trust on the TRF members, the government officers were able to promote healthy reconciliation among the communities. The communities had understood the importance of the Transitional Justice and reconciliation and started to act positively by creating interaction between communities.
The knowledge and benefits on transitional justice and reconciliation had reached the victims and have motivated to approach office on missing persons and Office of Reparation to find stable solutions for the outstanding issues.
In the certain districts TRF voluntarily conduct meetings to increase the reconciliation process in their respective districts.
- Formation and establishment of 25 TRF district committees
- Formation of Youth Truth and Reconciliation Forum (TRYF)
- Formation of Sabaragamuwa Missing Persons Society (Military widows)
- State level recognition to TRF
- Increased community support to conduct healthy reconciliation activities in Southern Province (Poster campaigns, peace walks, awareness and discussions)
- Media Prominence (Newspaper articles, Radio interviews)
- TRF supported the community to conduct healthy reconciliation activities