Cyberspace Graveyard for Disappeared Persons





Our Reports

Reports from Others

UN Documents

Other Documents

Cyber Links

Search this section:

Printer Friendly Version

Chapter I


The Mandate

Her Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, appointed this Commission by Warrant No: AP/6/N/214/97/ of 30th April 1998 to inquire into and report on the matters set out therein. The Mandate of this Commission[1] is the same as that of the earlier Commissions except that this Commission has an all Island jurisdiction to inquire into the complaints received, but left uninquired, by the earlier Commissions when they submitted their reports in September, 1997.

 The Terms of Reference of this Commission are to inquire into and report on the following matters:

 A. The allegations about the involuntary removal of persons from their residences, or the disappearance of persons from their residences, made to the Commissions of Inquiry appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, and terms of reference of which are published respectively in Gazettes No. 855/18,855/19 and 855/20 of 25th January, 1995, being allegations in respect of which no investigations have commenced on the respective dates, appointed by the respective warrants appointing such Commissions of Inquiry;

B. The evidence available to establish such alleged removals or disappearances;

C. The present whereabouts of the persons alleged to have been so removed or to have so      


D. Whether there is any credible material indicative of the person or persons responsible for the  alleged removals or disappearances;

E. The legal proceedings that can be taken against the persons held to be so responsible;

F. The measures necessary to prevent the occurrence of such alleged activities in the future;

G. The relief, if any, that should be afforded to the parents, spouses and dependents of the persons alleged to have been so removed or to have so disappeared;

and to make such recommendations with reference to any of the matters that have been inquired into under the terms of this warrant.


Cases Considered:



      District                                           Complaints in

     (Complains Residents)                 Hand of




Anuradhapur           Anuradhapura                                       883

     Badulla                                                   464

     Batticaloa                                                 81

     Colombo                                                  66

     Galle                                                        89

     Gampaha                                                  96

     Hambantota                                            218

     Jaffna                                                     442

     Kalutara                                                 118

     Kandy                                                   3397

     Kegalle                                                     32

     Kilinochchi                                                 8



     Kurunegala                              1581

     Mannar                                       1

     Matale                                    1042

     Matara                                     356

     Monaragala                              136

     Mulaithivu                                   7

     Nuwara Eliya                            239

     Polonnaruwa                            743

     Puttalam                                  130

     Ratnapura                                  58

     Trincomalee                                 9

     Vavuniya                                     3




     Total                                   10,136

This Commission visited every district in Sri Lanka except Mannar and Vavuniya Districts. After excluding duplicates and complaints that did not come within the terms of the Mandate, the number of cases for inquiry was 6345. Of these, 4473 were inquired into[2].

Among the complaints received were 654 complaints pertaining to returned detainees, 384 of which were inquired into[3].

The reasons for the absence of the absentee complainants were investigated into by this Commission. In most cases the complainant’s absence was found to be due to the loss of hope of finding the disappeared persons. In other cases, complainants had obtained certificates of death from the Divisional Secretaries[4] and therefore they did not feel it necessary to report their complaints to the Commission. Reasons of change of address or illness alone were not found to be a factor.

The Evidence Available of the Fact of Removals and Disappearances

The nature of the evidence available will be considered under two headings:

 (A)       The evidence available to establish a de facto disappearance;

(B)       The evidence available to establish the involuntary nature of the removals or disappearances.

 (A)       To Establish a de facto Disappearance:

 (a)        Oral evidence of witnesses (as a rule, corroborative evidence was called for).

(b)        Documentary evidence.

    i.    Grama Sevak’s Certification.

   ii.    Certification by a head of a religious institution, e.g. Viharadhipati, Parish priest and 


         iii.   Certificates issued by Principal of school attended by corpus if going to school.

         iv.   Responses by independent organisations such as the ICRC, WGEID to pleas made


         v.   Police reports.

         vi.   Written initiatives taken by political leaders contemporaneous with the disappearance.

        vii.  Death certificates issued under the provisions of Act No. 58/98[5].

 (B)    To Establish the Involuntary Nature of the Removal or Disappearance:

 (a)     Oral evidence of witnesses (as a rule corroborative evidence was called for).

(b)     Documentary evidence.

(c)     Evidence procured in terms of Section 7 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, No. 178 of 1948 from State records.(d)     Additionally, the Commission took into consideration the socio-political antecedents of the corpus; surrounding circumstances, such as the climate of the times; and other spacio-temporal factors, such as the fact that the abduction from which the disappearance followed took place immediately after, and in the vicinity of, a subversive attack on security forces.


[1]               Vide Annex I – Mandate of the Commission.

[2]               Vide Annex II, “List Places where Commission had Sittings”.

[3]               Vide section on “Returned Detainees” in Chapter II.

[4]               These form part of the record of findings of this Commission.

[5]               Vide Chapter VI for the terms of the Act and particulars of death certificates issued to date under it.


2 – H 8941


Posted on 2003-06-15


Cyberspace Graveyard for Disappeared Persons
Asian Human Rights Commission

1 users online
3726 visits
4207 hits