Commonwealth hails Sri Lanka's war damage census

Colombo, Dec 3 : Attempts by the Sri Lankan government to address human rights issues by compiling a census to assess human and property damage during three-decade conflict have been praised by the Commonwealth secretary, a statement said here Tuesday.

Sri Lanka is currently chairing the 53-member Commonwealth and came under heavy pressure for its lacklustre human rights record that includes allegations of war crimes during the last phase of a three-decade conflict that ended in 2009, reports Xinhua.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has also come under strong criticism from Canada and Britain for supporting Sri Lanka's chairmanship.

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said that last week's announcement by the Sri Lankan government to conduct a national census to determine the extent of the loss of lives during the country's 26-year long civil war is a welcome step.

"This will advance the process of post-conflict reconciliation sought in the national Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation report," Sharma said.

The island-wide census will collect detailed information about the deaths, missing people, injured and disabled people, and damages to property due to the internal conflict since 1982.

"We hope that every attempt will be made to record accurately the information and chronologies provided by victims, families and witnesses. We encourage all concerned to provide the information required," the secretary general added.

He hoped that the findings of the census will be made public after its completion.

According to the department of census and statistics of Sri Lanka, the census will be completed by Dec 20 and the report will be made available by March next year.

"Healing and enduring reconciliation will only come about when the truth is known about what happened in the past," Sharma said.

--IANS (Posted on 03-12-2013)

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