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
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
Terms of Reference of this Commission are to inquire into and report on the
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;
The evidence available to
establish such alleged removals or disappearances;
The present whereabouts of the persons alleged to have been so removed or
to have so
Whether there is any credible material indicative of the person or persons
responsible for the alleged removals or disappearances;
The legal proceedings that can be taken against the persons held to be so
The measures necessary to prevent the occurrence of such alleged activities in
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
make such recommendations with reference to any of the matters that have been
inquired into under the terms of this warrant.
Nuwara Eliya 239
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.
Among the complaints
received were 654 complaints pertaining to returned detainees, 384 of which were
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
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
The Evidence Available
of the Fact of Removals and Disappearances
nature of the evidence available will be considered under two headings:
evidence available to establish a de facto disappearance;
evidence available to establish the involuntary nature of the removals or
To Establish a de facto Disappearance:
evidence of witnesses (as a rule, corroborative evidence was called for).
i. Grama Sevak’s Certification.
ii. Certification by a head of a religious institution,
e.g. Viharadhipati, Parish priest and
Certificates issued by Principal of school attended by corpus if going to
iv. Responses by independent
organisations such as the ICRC, WGEID to pleas made
vi. Written initiatives taken by
political leaders contemporaneous with the disappearance.
Death certificates issued under the provisions of Act No. 58/98.
To Establish the Involuntary Nature of the Removal or Disappearance:
Oral evidence of witnesses (as a rule corroborative evidence was called for).
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.
Vide section on “Returned Detainees” in Chapter II.
These form part of the record of findings of this Commission.
Vide Chapter VI for the terms of the Act and particulars of
death certificates issued to date under it.
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Posted on 2003-06-15