Sri Lanka: Foreign Minister concludes working visit to South Africa

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, accompanied by the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, concluded the 3 day working visit to South Africa from 21-25 March 2023.

It is recalled that the Cabinet of Ministers in January this year approved the concept of a Truth and Reconciliation mechanism as proposed by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation, which is chaired by President Wickremesinghe. The proposed concept states that an independent, domestic mechanism of truth seeking is identified as a meaningful way for Sri Lanka to advance and secure peace, after the country’s arduous journey of ending conflict of three decades. The Cabinet also authorized the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice to operationalize this concept and to initiate discussions and facilitate the drafting of a Truth and Reconciliation law. It is in support of this process, the current visit took place at the invitation of the South African Government.

During the visit, the two Ministers paid a Courtesy Call on the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and held bilateral meetings with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Naledi Pandoor and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional and Constitutional Development Ronald Lamola. They also met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki as well as Roelf Meyer, former Minister of Constitutional Development and one of the chief negotiators, along with President Ramaphosa, for the end of apartheid in South Africa and paving the way to the first democratic elections in the country. Meetings were also held with officials from the Public Prosecutions Office of South Africa, the Pan African Bar Association of South Africa, “Freedom park”, “In Transformation Initiative” and the “Institute for Justice and Reconciliation”.

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During the call on President Ramaphosa, the South African President warmly recalled his friendship with President Wickremesinghe and said that he wishes to further consolidate the bilateral relations with Sri Lanka. He further stated that South Africa is committed to sharing their experiences in relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a view to assisting Sri Lanka in the reconciliation process.

Foreign Minister Sabry and Minister Pandoor exchanged views on important bilateral issues as well as the current situation in Sri Lanka. Minister Sabry especially briefed the South African Minister on the progress being made by the Government of Sri Lanka with regard to national efforts on reconciliation and the promotion and protection of human rights. While acknowledging that the South African model would need to be adapted to the Sri Lankan context, both Ministers agreed to work together in sharing experiences and expertise in developing the contours of a truth-seeking mechanism that would best suit the needs of the Sri Lankan people.

The interactions with the South African Minister of Justice and other experts provided valuable insights with regard to the South African experience in the establishment of their Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Sri Lanka.