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Chapter VII

 

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 Commissions.

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 complaints too.

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.

It 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.


[i] It would be noted that we had not called for complaints. Therefore it is an that there are many others yet to complain.

[ii] Vide Annex for list of NGO’s which gave Evidence.

[iii] vide Annex XI for particulars of alleged disappearances yet to be inquired into.

Posted on 2003-06-15



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Cyberspace Graveyard for Disappeared Persons
Asian Human Rights Commission

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