In 1996, a large number of people fled from
the Jaffna peninsula into the Vanni while government forces were engaged in an
operation to regain control of Jaffna from the LTTE. Many people returned after
the security forces had taken over the peninsula, but following the suicide bomb
attack on the Jaffna Town Commander, Maj.Gen. Hapangama, in July 1996,
instances of youth disappearing in custody began to be reported. It is alleged
that nearly 600 persons disappeared in Jaffna during this period.
government came under considerable pressure to trace and account for the
disappeared, it appointed a Board of Investigation in 1997 to inquire into these
complaints. However, as this Board consisted of officials of the Defence
Ministry, it failed to win the confidence of the relatives of the victims. The
Board conducted its inquiries inside Palaly Army Camp, which is a high security
zone, and most of the complainants did not attend the hearings. This Board
concluded its sittings in 1998; however, its report to the President has not
been published to date.
Posted on 2003-06-15