Parliament Passes Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 1 of 2024

In a historic move towards fostering national unity and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, the Parliament has passed the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 1 of 2024. Certified on the 23rd of January, 2024, this act aims to establish the “Office for National Unity and Reconciliation” to promote harmony, understanding, and peaceful coexistence among all citizens.

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Key Highlights:

  1. Mandate and Objectives (Sections 2 and 9):
    • Promote national unity, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence.
    • Formulate and recommend a national policy on reconciliation.
    • Facilitate the implementation of policies fostering understanding and unity.
    • Provide assistance to resolve tensions and conflicts within and among communities.
  2. Establishment of the Reconciliation Office (Sections 3 and 4):
    • A body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.
    • Headquarters in Colombo, with the authority to establish regional offices as needed.
  3. Composition of the Reconciliation Office (Section 4):
    • Consists of ex-officio and appointed members with expertise in various fields.
    • Emphasizes a pluralistic representation reflecting Sri Lanka’s diverse society.
  4. Powers, Duties, and Functions (Sections 9 and 10):
    • Make recommendations to the government on national unity and reconciliation.
    • Formulate national policies and action plans for reconciliation and coexistence.
    • Implement programs, address conflicts, and support stakeholders in peace initiatives.
  5. Financial Provisions and Reporting (Sections 13-16):
    • Adequate funds from the State to be charged on the Consolidated Fund.
    • Submission of annual reports, including audited accounts, to Parliament.
  6. Legal Protection and Contempt Offenses (Sections 18 and 19):
    • Legal immunity for actions taken in good faith by members and officers.
    • Offenses of contempt against the authority of the Reconciliation Office addressed by the Court of Appeal.

This landmark legislation underscores the government’s commitment to building an inclusive society and addressing historical tensions. Stay tuned for further updates on the implementation and impact of this crucial Act.

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