The Commission has been mandated by Your Excellency to investigate into
Whether any persons have been in voluntarily removed or have disappeared from
their places of residence in the Northern Province and Eastern Province at any
time after January 1, 1988;
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 disappeared;
Whether there is any credible material indicative of the 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
dependants 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 the warrant.
As regards section (A) of the Mandate: Whether any persons have been
involuntarily removed or have disappeared from their places of residence, the
obvious response is a resounding “Yes”.
from all stations of life, from wives of labourers, to wives of principals of
schools and parents, all came with their tearful stories of their family
members taken into custody by security service personnel or by militant
groups. There is no doubt that there had been a large scale involuntary
removal of people from their places of residence.
Mandate (B), i.e. the evidence available to establish such alleged
removals or disappearances, there
have been large scale corroborative evidence by relatives, neighbours and
fellow human beings, as most of these arrests were done in full public view,
often from refugee camps and during cordon and search operations where large
number of people witnessed the incidents.
Mandate (C), i.e. the present whereabouts of the persons alleged to have been
so removed or to have so disappeared, the Commission faced a blank wall in
this investigation. On the one hand the security service personnel denied any
involvement in arrests in spite of large scale corroborative evidence of this
culpability. They also denied the existence of any undisclosed detention camps
where the arrested could have been kept pending the emergence of Civil Peace.
In this situation the Commission feels that a separate investigation and much
more time are necessary for the determination of this issue.
fact is that Army arrested people in large in large numbers. The Army only can
answer what happened to the corpus of those arrested. It was no use denying
that they have much to do with these arrests.
mandate (D), i.e. whether there is any credible material indicative of the
person or persons responsible for the alleged removals or disappearances,
according to the evidence recorded, 90% of the removal was ascribed to the
security forces – Army, Navy, Airforce and the Police. L.T.T.E. also was
responsible for its own share of removals. Other militant groups also are in
the picture. The name of some officers comes up often in the course of
inquiries. Captain Suresh Cassim, Major Suraweera, Dean of Dyke Road, Trincomalee,
Richard Peiris of Trincomalee police, Captain Munaz, Captain Palitha, Capt.
Guneratne, Major Majeed and Major Mohan of Kommathurai army camp in 1990,
Captain G.L Perera and Inspector Soyza of Ampara Police area are some of the
Army and Police Officers against whom there is enough evidence in our files
for initiating prosecution.
Excellency’s next poser was Mandate (E) the legal proceedings that can be
taken against the person held to be so responsible. The Commission feels that
on ex-parte evidence alone, it cannot decide on the guilt of these people.
Hence, proper inquiries have to be undertaken and evidence given by the
complainants should stand the scrutiny of cross-examination. This is a task we
leave for the next Commission.
the Mandate (F), the measures necessary to prevent the occurrence of such
alleged activities in the future, Sri Lanka has already taken ancillary
measures to prevent the excesses happening again. The directions issued by His
Excellency the President and the Regulation 08 of The Emergency (Establishment
of Human Rights Task Force) Regulation No. 01 of 1985.
require the Army and the arresting parties to ensure the fundamental rights of
persons arrested or detained and such persons to be treated humanely. These
seek to ensure that the officer making arrests or detentions shall identify
himself to the person arrested or any relative or friend of such person by
name and rank. Every person arrested shall be informed the reason for the
arrest. A document containing the name and rank of the arresting officer, the
time and date of arrest and the place of detention shall be specified in such
documents. This is to be given to the spouse, father or mother or close
relative of the person arrested. If he is unable to issue a document he shall
make an entry in the nearest Police Station or if he belongs to the armed
services to report to the O.I.C of the Police station why he is unable to
issue a document.
members of the Human Rights Task force should be permitted access to the
arrested person. These and other regulations are already in the Statute Book
but this will not be of much help unless they are properly enforced. In this
connection the Commission wishes to endorse an observation made by “Asia
Watch” report on 31st May, 1992, which reads as follows:
was not enough to point to an impressive array of laws and institutional
mechanisms adopted to protect and promote human rights. Unless these laws and
mechanisms are utilised to secure the effective enforcement of rights, and
unless that enforcement is strictly monitored, the introduction of such
measures will serve only a
purpose. Such measures may enable a Government to deflect, for a limited time,
criticism that it is failing to fulfil its international human rights
obligations. They will do little to improve the human rights situation in the
long term unless individual members of the security forces are held
accountable – and are seen to be held accountable for human rights
violations they commit”
any case these regulations will not touch on the basic problem which creates
deep fissures in society. Two problems are facing this country. One is the
problem of the youth which took militant form under the J.V.P. The other is
ethnic problems which takes militant form under the L.T.T.E. These two
problems unless handled with vision and statesmanship will distort all organs
of Society and make the Army arbiter in national issues.
Excellency has taken the correct decision and especially in the ethnic sphere,
Your Excellency’s proposals could be adopted as a basic policy of the land.
next question (G) Your Excellency posed was a relief that should be afforded
to the parents, spouses or dependants of the persons alleged to have been
removed. The Commission has worked out a Compensation Scheme in accordance
with the circular issued by the Ministry of Public Administration No.21/88of
13th July, 1988 and this is only a token of the concern of the
Government for deprivation suffered by the affected families. Money in any
quantity will not compensate the absence of the bread-winner, the love of the
father, the duty of the son for the family. But money helps in some way to
cushion the blow.
far as the compensation is concerned we have to issue a note of caution. Some
of these complainants have already obtained compensation through the Ministry
of Rehabilitation. Steps have to be taken to ensure that there is no double
addition to compensation certain other measures have to be taken to help these
families whose bread-winners are removed from them. We recommend at least one
person in such families who has the minimum-
be given employment either in the State Sector or in the Private Sector. Where
people do not possess minimum qualifications they should be given vocational
training at State expense to ensure that one person in the family is
We suggest that:
Dependants of all public servants, employees of semi-Government bodies,
Statutory Corporations, who have disappeared must be paid the salaries of the
disappeared till they reach the age of retirement and thereafter they must be
entitled for pension. No distinction must be drawn among permanent,
pensionable, casual, temporary employees etc.
Dependent family members who are not caught up in the above category must be
brought under an effective and meaningful social security system.
The Commission was able to identify malnutrition among the children of the
disappeared. The existing programme of fight against malnutrition should be
extended to them as well.
A portion of Scholarships for higher education should be reserved for the
hildren of the disappeared.
Commission has already found that the immediate family members of the victims
are facing legal and administrative problems, some of which needs special
attention. We refer to the problems arising out of the state of legal
uncertainty of those who have disappeared due to lack of proof. Family members
face problems connected with their civil status, inheritance, widows and
orphans pensions. Even though Government had made it possible for them to have
a person registered as dead if he had not been seen for over an year, this had
not been brought to the notice of the family members of the disappeared. It is
recommended that action should be taken at the level of the Divisional
Administration, to make this development, well known.