PROPOSAL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS – SUBMITTED TO PRCCR ON 26th February 2016 at the Batticaloa District Secretariat
We understand that you are accepting proposals from the general public. In line with your open invitation we, a group of Muslims from the eastern province, believe that our political aspirations are distinct and they should be taken into account in the process of your consultation aiming at reforming the existing constitution.
We are a group of Muslims from the eastern Province of Sri Lanka from diverse backgrounds, occupations and affiliations who have in common a strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights. We come together in the belief that the broad spectrum of opinion among the Muslims population of the Eastern Sri Lanka is not reflected by national parties including the Muslim political parties which claim authority to represent the Muslim community as a whole. The non contiguous Muslims towns and villages are centre of coexistence and social cohesion. We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty by those political parties and institutions with vested interest.
We have therefore resolved to promote the expression of alternative Muslims’ voices, particularly in respect of the grave situation in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, which threatens the future of the Muslims, the Tamils and the Sinhalese of the eastern Province as well as the stability of the whole region. We are guided by the following principles:
1. Human rights are universal and indivisible and should be upheld without exception.
2. Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese alike have the right to peaceful and secure lives.
3. Peace and stability require the willingness of all parties to the conflict to comply with international law.
4. There is no justification for any form of racism in any circumstances.
5. The East is an ideal province for multi ethnic existence and replica of the rest of Sri
Whilst welcoming the Public Representations, we propose that the Sri Lankan State shall be a single secular nation-state, comprising of nine provinces. The resolution to the ethnic conflict should ensure that there should be an effective anti-discrimination legislation and mechanisms to challenge discrimination at all levels to uphold Constitutional provisions. This should be accompanied by special measures where minorities should have judicial protection and remedy as citizens of the country.
All communities, including the smallest and the most marginalized minorities, have a right to participate in public and political affairs, electoral systems and methods of governance.
To ensure accountability, there should be an effective and an accessible consultative and complaints mechanisms for all communities, allowing men and women a space to
voice their concerns. These may include consultative bodies, inspection panels on development projects and Ombudspersons. It is imperative and urgent that independent Muslim voices find a coherent and consistent way of asserting themselves on these and other issues of national concerns.
We believe that any divisions or formation of separate units of administration in the Eastern Province based on ethnicity is detrimental to the common interest , coexistence and community cohesion.We believe the numbers of local authorities with more devolved power and establishment of more Grama Sevaka areas or Koralai Pattu and other form of divisions based on the ethnic line are adequate to safeguard the interest of the community which is predominant in the specific Town or village or Grama Sevaka division.
As we observe that the proposals are invited in respect of wide range of issues we tend to limit our concerns to some aspect of constitutional reforms subject to the status quo of the people of the Eastern province.
Form of Government
Bicameral legislature bodies.
- All legislative powers shall be vested in the Parliament but the legislature shall be approved by the majority votes of the Senate, like in the United Kingdom.
- The central government shall be the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
- The Senate members shall be elected by the members of the Provincial legislatures and each province shall elect one member from the seven provincial councils to be the representative of the provinces in the Senate. The North and eastern provinces shall elect two representatives from the Tamil and Muslim communities each. The senate members shall be a permanent inhabitants of that province for which he shall be chosen.
- When vacancies happen in the Senate from any province, the Chief Executive of the Province (Chief Minister) shall invite nominations for elections to fill such vacancies. The chief of legislature of the province may make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by elections as the legislature may direct.
- The President shall be elected by the people by an election
- The prime minister shall be elected by the people by an election (The election for the President and the Prime minister shall be held simultaneously
- The executive powers of the President shall be delegated from the Parliament and the Senate.
- The President shall act on the advice of the Prime minister, and the cabinet ministers and the members of Senate.
- The vice president shall be President of the Senate.
- The vice president shall be elected by the parliament and he shall be a member of either from the Tamil or Muslim communities.
- The President shall have power , by and with the advice and consent of Senate , to make treaties and legislation affecting provincial councils and in case of disagreement two thirds of the Senators concur or approve of such treaties and legislation or any other matter of national interest.
- The President of Sri Lanka, shall hold office during the terms of five years, and, together with the Vice president , chosen for the same term.
- Sinhala and Tamil shall be the national languages and English language shall be a link language.
- The constitution shall ensure secularism and protection of all religions alike.
1. The Northern and Eastern provincial councils shall be entitled to appoint a committee, vested with the power of making decisions to deal with the land disputes, such as settlement, re-settlement, allocation of state land, demarcation of new Koralai Pattu , GS divisions. However any major administrative divisions such as Pradeshiya Sabas , Divisional secretariat etc, shall be decided by the Central Government.
2. A regional WAKF Board (Islamic Trust) shall be instituted to deal with all the matters relating to Mosques in the region (Eastern Province).
3. Board of Qazis , (Appellant authority ) shall be instituted to deal with the appeals from the Qazis of the region (Provinces) shall be instituted in the eastern Province to hear the appeals against the decisions of the Qazis in the region.
4. A Buddhist religious Order similar to that of Malwatta or Asgiriya shall be instituted in Ampara to deal with the Buddhist communities religious matters in the regions.
5. Hindu Mahasaba and Christian Religious Order shall be instituted separately for the Eastern Province.
Eastern Muslim Front (EMF)