ALLEGED DISAPPEARANCES NOT WITHIN MANDATE
ALLEGED incidents of Disappearance brought
to this commission’s notice which, However, we are not empowered to inquire
into, amount to over 16,305
This commission’s mandate empowers inquiry
in respect of –
“the allegations….. made to the Commissions
of Inquiry appointed….. in January 25, 1995 .. being allegations in respect of
which no investigations have commenced..”
In terms of our mandate, 10136 complaints
were handed to this Commission by the presidential Secretariat as those in
respect of which “no investigations have commenced” by the earlier three
However while this Commission was
functioning, persons who had not complained to the earlier Commissions started
sending in their complaints[i]
to this Commission. This commission has received a total of 205 such individual
complaints from the North East and 152 such complaint from the South. The
Evidence of Several NOG’ s,[ii]political
parties and other organizations was to the effect that there is a total of
16,305 persons who have allegedly not reported to any Commission s9o far in
respect of disappearances which have occurred after 1988.[iii]
Justice and equity require that attention be paid to inquire into these
It appears that these complainants from
remote areas of Sri Lanka. Did not know at the relevant time that Commissions of
inquiry into Disappearance had been appointed. Communication Difficulties, fear,
ignorance, displacement are chief among the causative in 1995, the facilities
for transport to and communications with the North were limited and erratic. In
respect of the many complaints from the East allegedly not reported to any
commission, the Peace Committee of Batticaloa stated that at that time the
people were afraid to complain against those they thought were responsible, as
the authorities concerned were still on control of those areas. This
Organization made a contemporaneous record of the disappearances in the
Batticaloa District in contrast to the NGO’ s in the Jaffna District, which
became active only after Government took control of the area.
It is very unsatisfactory that as at present
there is no procedure whereby these alleged disappearances could get into any
official records, it would be a denial of these persons’ Right to be heard while
others had been inquired into, and would be against the spirit in which the
Commissions were established.
Above all, the provision of a forum to
these affected persons is an obligation under International Law.
Presidential Commissions of Inquiry are only
ad hoc arrangements. Accordingly We recommend that Human Rights
Commission Act be amended to enable it to inquire into these complaints o any
subseque4nt instances of this nature brought to their notice.
recommended that the Government should in the meantime avail the
services of the Divisional Secretaries to check with the help of the Grama
Niladaris whether the whereabouts of such persons are still not known even to
those in their own villages.
It would be noted that we had not called for complaints. Therefore it is an
that there are many others yet to complain.
Vide Annex for list of NGO’s which gave Evidence.
vide Annex XI for particulars of alleged disappearances yet to be inquired
Posted on 2003-06-15