Sri Lankan Parliament passes legislation to pay compensation to victims of the island’s brutal civil war

Sri Lankan Parliament has passed legislation to pay compensation to victims of the island’s brutal civil war, which claimed one lakh lives during a decade. The legislature voted 59 — 43 to approve the Office for Reparations Bill which seeks to establish an independent office that will compensate survivors as well as victims’ next of kin.

Presenting the draft bill, Prime Minister RanilWickremesinghe said that disappearances have been reported not only in the North but also in the South. Former President Mahinda Rajapakse’s followers voted against the bill, arguing that it amounted to compensating separatist Tamil rebels who were crushed in a no-holds-barred military campaign in May 2009.

The long-delayed legislation had been a key demand of international observers urging reconciliation in the island nation. The office will decide on potentially tens of thousands of compensation claims from those afflicted by fighting that ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. President Maithripala Sirisena has faced international criticism for the lack of progress towards reconciliation since his election three years ago.