The Issue of Impunity
No circumstance what so ever whether a threat
of war, a state of war, internal political instability or any
other public emergency, may be invoked to justify enforced
To the extent that a society or government
dismisses the principle of accountability as unnecessary, it
under-mines its possibility of becoming a true democracy, in
which citizens can feel confident that their rights are firmly
1. The Spectacle of Impunity
- The climate of impunity was so tangible as
far as the witnesses before this Commission were
concerned that many of them did not even trouble to list
its features. This Commission discovered that the
features ranged from the most spectacular and sensational
to the most mundane disregard for the Rule of Law. These
features included the sight of scavenging dogs feeding on
mutilated bodies left in piles on the road-side.
- the sight of 'tyre-pyres' with
bodies set alight on them, (and still more gruesome
wearing 'necklace' of a burning tyre leading to
the reflection was it a corpse of a living person who had
been so garlanded).
- the sight of vehicles moving around with
no number-plates of obviously false ones, without check
by traffic police of soldiers manning the many road
- the experience - one's own or of a
neighbour, friend of relation - of the violent entry
into one's home at any time of the day or night of
heavily armed men who forcibly abducted the males - most
particularly the youth taking them in as public a manner
as possible, never to return.
- the knowledge, common to all, that the
attempts of the relatives to inform the police would be
unsuccessful; that the complaint if recorded it all would
be but of a disappearance only, leaving out all the
material particulars disclosed by the complainant.
- the knowledge that not one jot of
attention would be paid in official quarters despite the
regular newspaper reports that showed opposition MPs
raising the matter of disappearances in Parliament,
tabling the lists of the disappeared.
- the knowledge, worst of all, shared by the
whole community, that there would be though these no
official acknowledgement, not one perpetrator punished,
even were not the acts of a foreign invader.
This was the picture conjured up again and
again in the evidence of petitioners before the Commission from
all quarters of the South, West and Sabaragamuwa Provinces,
though the rates of incidence varied from place to place. From
the homogeneous nature of the evidence before us, Your
Commissioners are confident that this will be the picture
revealed before all three Commissions appointed by Your
From the Table of Incidents proved to the
Commission, The claim of impunity on the part of everyone
concerned including the subversives, is very clear.
THE TABLE OF INCIDENTS
Jan 88' - June '88
July '88 - Dec '88
Jan '89 - June '89
July '89 - Dec '89
Jan '90 - June '90
July '90 - Dec '90
Jan '91 - June '91
July '91 - Dec '91
Jan '92 - June '92
July '92 - Dec '92
Jan '93 - June '93
July '93 - Dec '93
Jan '94 - June '94
July '94 - Dec '94
A - Security Forces and Allies
B - Subversives
The Main Casualty as always was Civil Society.
2. State Terrorism as an Instrument of
The use of illegal acts as "weapons of
The prevention of offenses such as rape, arson
to dwelling house, are yard-sticks of the respect for law and
order in a society. Such acts as well as brutal acts of murder in
addition to disappearance following abduction, went unrecorded
and unpunished. It is as if these illegal acts were weapons of
war designed to subjugate the people, not to reinforce the
law-biding qualities in them.
The Main Casualty was Civil Society
3. Structure of Impunity
3.1. The Denial of Recourse to Ordinary
Procedures of Law:
Persons who sought the protection of law
encountered a complete denial to them of recourse to the ordinary
procedures of law enforcement i.e. reporting to the police, the
reports being followed up by an investigation by the police, a
contemporaneous police record of the incident of disappearance
and statements of witnesses, and police report of courts with the
attendant safeguards for witnesses, including the complainant,
and assistance in obtaining relevant further evidence including
I went to the police 76 times, but we were
driven away like dogs. - Father
I summoned soldiers of the army-camp when an
armed gang who came in trucks seized one of my graduate teachers
during school hours, but the soldiers stood by on seeing the
abductors and did nothing. - School Principal are some of the
incidents related to the Commission.
3.2. Distorted/Non Existent Investigations:
The Distortion of the Investigations to conceal
more than to reveal, and mechanically labelling as 'subversive
act' without investigation, were some of the practices of
avoidance used in the rare instances where the authorities could
not refrain from semblance of an investigation.
The case of Richard de Soyza
R, a Journalist, filed reports critical of the
government's record on human rights to I.P.S., an
international news agency. In February '901 R's
abduction from his home by an armed gang who came in vehicles in
the night was reported both to the local police and the Senior
Superintendent of the area simultaneous with the incident, and
recorded as a disappearance. R's corpse was discovered
floating in the sea the next day, with gun-shot injuries through
the neck. This series of incidents received wide publicity
nationally and internationally. At the inquest the Magistrate
ordered the arrest of a senior police officer identified by R's
mother to be one of the abductors of her son. The order was not
carried out. The reports of investigation filed by police in
court instead referred to an anonymous letter received by the
police containing a general allegation of a connection of the
deceased to an incident of murder of a film stars girl-friend
which was currently a popular sensation. On the day R's
mother was due to give evidence on oath and b available for
cross-examination by the several lawyers for the defense, the
representative of the Attorney General stated that he would not
be calling her as witness as her evidence was 'irrelevant'.
The Magistrate accordingly terminated the proceedings. Files at
the Attorney General's Department shows that the AG in
August directed the Inspector-General of Police to 'hold
further investigations'. There is no record of further
investigations by the police/further directions by the AG.
The case of Sarath Sepala Ratnayake
S, a Human Rights lawyer and SLFP candidate at
the forth coming General Election who was killed at his home in
January ''89 along with his retainers and his body hung
up on a tree by persons who were picked up in a vehicle after the
event. This vehicle had travelled without challenge and record by
the security forces on a road where the infrequent vehicle
travelling at night would invariably have been checked by them at
the many road blocks along the way.
The case of the Hokandara Mass Grave
When there was ground to suspect an act to be
that of the security forces, police officers now holding senior
rank failed to report their personal knowledge of such acts
although Police Regulations required the records of an
investigation and report to superiors of such facts. This aspect
was very clear from the evidence before the commission in respect
of the incident of the "Hokandara Mass Grave" where a
bomb crater on a public highway was transformed into an open
grave containing several charred corpses.
3.3. The absence of prosecution despite clear
chain of evidence:
No investigation and prosecution occurred even
of case where a clear chain of evidence exists up to date.
"Dambarella Incident" 18
youths of Hambantota District disappeared after abduction and
detention at Sevena Army Camp in Ratanapura district. The
following facts are clearly established by eyewitnesses. Hundreds
have witnessed the round up of the men of the village to the
village school. Detainees at the school since released have seen
and identified the missing 18 persons at the school. Relations
and half the village watched as these 18 persons were loaded into
trucks and the whole convoy of vehicles bearing the soldiers went
away. Several relations of the abductees have followed on motor
cycles, tractors and public transport and have witnessed the
vehicles enter Sevana Army Camp.
Mawarala Incident: Several youths of the
Mawarala police area who were in detention at the Diddenipotha
Army Camp were permitted visits by their relations. Relations
took food to the detainess, spoke with them while they were in
detention, and took the detainees used cloths to be laundered. On
27.6.89 on hearing the soldiers were striking the camp the
relations went there. They saw 22 youths including their children
being loaded into a private vehicle. The Army Commandant told
them that he has handed over their children to Mawarala police
and that they would be released by the police on the following
day. The parents saw the vehicle containing their children leave
accompanied by the HQI and other officers of Mawarala police
travelling in the police vehicle. That is the last they saw of
their children. 13 Habeas Corpus Applications have been filed in
respect of youths who disappeared in this incident, naming as
respondents the Army Captain, the HQI and others. The Army
officers position in court is that he handed over the youths to
the HQI on the day in question.
7 The HQIs position
is one of complete denial. He says he and his officers visited
the camp to make their fare-wells to the Army personnel who were
leaving that day, they stayed to lunch and left in the afternoon.
He denies that he took charge of the detainees on that day or any
other. He denies that the incidents of handing over described by
the petitioners took place. The evidence recorded by the
Commission supports the petitioners. It transpires from that
evidence more-over, that the youths were dropped off later that
day at a rubber plantation adjoining Mawarala Police Station on
the directions of the HQI. No official investigation or
prosecution has taken place to date.
The Dickwella Incident: 35 persons were
taken into police custody in a combing-out operation on the eve
of the visit to the area of the governing partys Presidential
candidate at the 1988 Presidential Election. Their subsequent
detention at the local police station was witnessed by several
persons. 13 of these persons disappeared thereafter. The
disappearance of these persons has been the subject of judicial
inquiry in 3 Habeas Corpus Applications in which the Court of
Appeal has made exemplary awards on finding the allegation
established. The evidence before this Commission established this
recital of events and identification of perpetrators in respect
of all 13 cases of disappearance from state custody.
The three examples cited are not isolated
departures-from-practice or "excesses." They
exemplify a generalised practice, which in its turn warrants the
reasonable inference that this practice denotes a generalised
direction NOT to investigate such incident.
3.4. Unauthorised Places of Detention :
Ample evidence of the practice of detention at
places of detention other that the official ones was forthcoming
in the evidence before us. These places of detention were often
maintained in close proximity, and even within, the peripheral
boundaries of the official army-camp or police station.
This Commission has no reason whatever to doubt
the veracity of any witness on his statement that a particular
place of detention existed. Most of the places of detention were
the subject of general knowledge in the area concerned.
The case of the Disappeared Embilipitiya
In this case the Commission had no difficulty
in discounting the position taken up by the Army that Sevana Army
camp was not a long-term detention camp, in the light of the
evidence to the contrary of a considerable number of residents of
Some records were maintained at these camps. In
the case of the missing Embilipitiya School Boys the Food
Register maintained at the Sevana camp provided valuable
information confirming that several alleged eyewitnesses were in
fact in detention in the relevant period.
The case of the "non existent"
Kumbalgamuwa Army Camp
It was proved to the Commission that a person
released from Kumbalgamuwa Army Camp on the condition of weekly
signing the register at the camp, disappeared after entering the
army camp on a weekly visit. Army Head Quarters' response to
the Commission's direction to furnish the name of the
Officer-in-Command of the Camp in the relevant period was:
"There is no record of a Kumbalgamuwa Army Camp".
These are a few of the many examples proved
before the Commission.
A list of the places of detention revealed by
witnesses to the Commission is annexed as Annexure D.
3.5. The Failure to Record Detention:
The practice of keeping prisoners in detention
without recording the fact was amply proved before the
Commission. Besides, the credible oral evidence of families and
returned detainees, letters sent by the International Committee
of the Red Cross to the family of a detainee sighted during their
visits to places of detention proved a valuable source of
evidence of Unauthorised detention.
We came across several instances of ICRC
"Sighting" of persons in unauthorised detention at
authorised detention camps. This is a sad pointer to all levels
of the security forces including the Police dispensing with the
rules and regulations which are an intergral part of their
training; all in the name of counter-subversion.
The Case of the Release of the Jeep but
Disappearance of the Driver
S, a staunch SLFPer and driver of the Jeep of
H. L., an opposition Member of Parliament, was abducted and taken
to the local Army Camp along with the Jeep. The Jeep was at the
army camp when the M. P. went there next morning and was released
to him. The Army's position in the Habeas Corpus Application
filed by S's wife in respect of his disappearance from
custody is that he escaped from custody. There is no record of
detention or contemporaneous entry re: the alleged escape from
3.6. The Frequent Transfer of Detainees:
The existence of a practice of frequent
transfer of detainees over several places of detention without
the maintenance of adequate records was clear from the evidence
of the Commission. Some examples are:
Repeated Transfers Within the District :
After A's abduction from home and denial of detention by the
local police and army, his brother a police officer saw him at
Kamburupitiya Army Camp, but he disappeared thereafter. The Army
Commander's report to the Commission: "Shot while
escaping from Hettiyawala Army Camp".
Transfer Out of District: B's
abduction from his home at Waskaduwa (Western Province -
Kalutara District) which took place before his family, was denied
by the local army and police. The family received an ICRC
intimation of sighting B. in detention at the police station
Ratnapura. (Sabaragamuwa Province). He has disappeared since.
The Case of Suneth B: B, a resident of
Bandarawela was abducted in Colombo, held in detention at Matara
Police Station, produced before the Magistrate and released, but
brought back to the police station. He disappeared thereafter.
3.7. The Official Position in Situations When
Detention cannot be Denied:
There were situations when the fact that a
person was in detention could not be denied e. g. the ICRC had
sighted him "in unacknowledged custody"; or the
detention was on official record.
The official position taken up thereafter was:
- Escaped From custody;
- Killed in an exchange of fire with subversives;
- Released from custody.
Some examples follow
"Escaped from Custody"
- K's family traced him at Gampaha
Police Head Quarters after they received an ICRC Information
that he had been sighted there. They visited him on
several occasions there, but on the last visit were
informed that he had been taken for further questions to
another place which was not divulged to them. They learnt
from the ICRC that the ICRC had been informed that he had
"Escaped from Custody".
- J was brought from Embilipitiya police and
detained at Dickwella police on Police Detention Order.
The family visited him there on several occasions and the
OIC gave no explanation for his absence thereafter.
Police Head Quarters informed them thereafter that he had
"Escaped from Custody" when he was taken
out on further investigation. The police station records
show that T56, S84 and sub machine guns had been taken
out by the Police Party on that occasion.
- C was surrendered to the local police by a
lawyer. He was visited Police in detention for over 3 ½
months thereafter. The books have a record that he
escaped from custody.
- The case of Sharon : A spectacular
instance of alleged "escaped from custody" s,
19 years was abducted on 24. 4.90 from his work place in
Colombo. S's detention in police custody was
referred to by the Deputy Minister of Defence in
Parliament on 26.4.90 during the debate to extend the
In regard to the continuation of the
Emergency we still have a few criminals and murderers
masquerading. Yesterday we caught a youth aged 19 years who
confessed to me about 70 murders. There are 9 others in that
gang. We are after these criminals who have got used to
murder. They must be rid from this society, and the police
are doing that.
"Killed in an exchange of fire with
- S and C : were abducted on 12.11.88. The
police did not acknowledge custody. Finally in January
1990 one parent saw them in detention at the local police
station, but they disappeared after 21.1.90. The Member
of Parliament (Opposition party) inquired about them from
Secretary Defence in June 1990. No information was
divulged to him. In April 1993 the SP of the area
informed one parent that these persons.
Were taken out from the police station on
30.1.90 to show an armory. they were killed in attack on
the police party by subversives. Their bodies were
disposed under emergency regulations.
P a 21 year old electrician was abducted from
his work place by a armed gang in civilian attire who took him
away in a jeep. The local police denied custody and would not
record the family's complaint. P was traced in police
custody but disappeared after 31.12.89. The family contacted the
ICRC. The ICRC has been informed by the police that P died
from injuries received in cross- fire between police and
subversives in a subversive attack on the police party when
he was taken out on 30.1. 90. to show an armory.
"Released from Custody"
Several cases of the continued disappearance of
persons alleged to have been released from custody have been
proved to this Commission.
138 instances of abduction/disappearance
soon after release have been proved to this Commission
The pattern common to these incidents of
abduction following release is as follows:-
The detainee is released from custody usually
towards night-fall to a relative who then signs in
acknowledgement. Not long after they leave the place of detention
the detainee is abducted again, this time by armed men who take
him away in an unmarked vehicle. The stories are full of pathos.
- Mother and recently released son were
standing at a roadside "Kiosk" having a cup of tea in
celebration of his release, when an unmarked vehicle picks him
up, as if a hawk had swooped for him - Mother
- Wife and newly released husband are at the
bus stop in order to return to home and children; an unmarked
vehicle came and he is abducted once more, never to be seen
- A man released from detention on the
condition that he signs the register at the Army Camp once a week
came to the Army Camp as stipulated accompanied by his wife. He
enters the camp and does not return. The authorities deny to her
'the evidence of her own eyes', the police in turn
refuses to record her recital of the events.
A Variation on this practice was revealed by
the several instances of such involuntary disappearances despite
records of release by court. Some instances are:
- The disappearance of 5 of 7 persons whom
the court record states were released from court, in
circumstances leading to the clear inference that they
are involuntary disappearances.- (MC Matara 10073)
- Police and Amy professed ignorance of the
whereabouts following abductions of corpus. The Joint
Operations Command (JOC) had no record of him,
Subsequently the family received a communication from the
ICRC that the corpus had been sighted at Eliyakanda Army
Camp. Again they lost track of him; there were overtures
to them for a bribe thereafter; then they traced the
court record that stated corpus was one of eight persons
released. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance
are however strongly, indicative of its involuntary
nature.- (MC Matara 100 1 8)
- A 15 year old participant in school
demonstrations was released to the family on 2 occasions
after he was taken into detention by the Army:
- to sit for a public exam
- to observe Sil on Vesak day.
Documents certifying to such release and
subsequent return of the corpus to detention were produced to
the Commission. He disappeared however after a
change-in-command at the place of detention. The family has
traced a court record of his release, but he remains
disappeared to date.- (MC Matara 10059)
- There is a court record of the release of
corpus from detention at Boossa detention camp, but he
has disappeared. The certificate of the Officer in Charge
of the local Police Station states:
"not among the living"- (MC Galle
- While the court record states
four persons including corpus was released by court after
being produced by the police, the evidence before the
Commission reveals that corpus was taken back to the
Police Station concerned, and 'disappeared'
that night in circumstances that reveal the use of the
courts in order to transform a recorded detention (corpus
originally was under a Police Detention Order) into an
unrecorded detention followed by disappearance. (MC
- The ICRC has been informed that the three
corpora whom the ICRC had sighted in detention were
released subsequently by court. Their continued
disappearance however is in circumstances strongly
indicative that the production before the Magistrate was
staged in order to create a record of release to off-set
the ICRC's sighting in State custody. (MC Hambantota
3.8 The continuation of the practice of
abduction/disappearance alongside the efforts of the All-Party
Conference of 1990 to Institute a Practice of
On 14.02.90 the All-Party Conference was
informed that the Government would set up an Independent
Surrender Committee following a decision of the All-Party
Conference and in implementation of a recommendation of the
Presidential Commission on Youth Unrest. The Committee was set up
and functioned from 20.04.90 to 20.08.90. the Number of people
who have surrendered to the District Surrender Committees which
were headed by the area Government Agent is reported to be 1871.
Of these, the numbers surrendering in the three Provinces of this
Commission's Mandate is 1106.
The total number of disappearances proved to
this Commission for the period 01.01.90 to 31.12.90 is 1878.
This figure is comprised of:
01.01.90 to 31.03.90
01.04.90 to 31.08.90
01.09.91 to 31.12.90
Total : 58 + 1820 =
There were several instances in which those who
were released after due inquiry, made a serious effort to return
to the holding centres alleging that they were being sought out
by unknown groups whom they suspected to be either from the
police, security forces or their former colleagues of the
Report of the Independent
4. The provision by statute of protection
from liability the Indemnity (Amendment) Act. 1988:
The Indemnity (Amendment) Act provides -
No action or other legal proceeding whatsoever
whether Civil or Criminal shall be instituted..........in
respect of anything done during the period 1st August
1977 to 17th December 1988.....by a Minister,
Deputy Minister or person......employed in the service of
Government of Sri Lanka in any capacity, whether Naval, Military,
Air Force, Police or Civil, or by any person acting.....under
the authority" of any of them.
There was much opposition in the country to the
proposed Indemnity. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka
characterised it as "Making Criminal Acts lawful".
"Don't make laws to suit some individuals, this only
encourages acts of personal revenge. It is we who will
suffer" says a Local Government councillor introducing a
condemnatory resolution at the council.
The Government's position was that the
indemnity was designed solely to establish in the armed forces a
sense of justice and equal treatment in view of the amnesty
granted to Tamil political prisoners subsequent to the Indo-Lanka
Accord 1987. While the terms of the amnesty granted to Tamil
political prisoners was to Detainees as at 29th July
14 the Indemnity
Act indemnified from liability in respect of acts from 1st
August 1977 to 17th December 1988.
The Presidential Elections was due to be held
on 18th December 1988. The Government's objective
of protecting from liability Ministers and others by the
enactment of legislation before the Presidential Election took
place in December 1988 was achieved.
5. The failure to Move v.
Persons/Institutions already Identified in other Legal
Some striking examples follow
The Liyanarachchi case:
A strong recommendation in 1991 from the Court
of 3 High Court Judges who heard the Liyanarachchi case that
further investigations and prosecution of a DIG named by them
should ensue, had no effect. No such investigation or prosecution
has ensued to date.
C. A. Gunawardene Attorney at Law on behalf of
K. K. K. A. Randunu and A. S. Ratnayake v. C. N. Whatmore,
Officer in Charge of Ganemulla Police et al. S. C. v. Application
136/87 and 164/87.
The Supreme Court directed the state in 1990 to
"inquire into and take appropriate action by way of criminal
proceedings and for disciplinary action against the person
responsible, namely police officers. In this case the Ganemulla
police admitted arrest and alleged it was on reasonable
suspicion. They showed that they had produced the two suspects
before the Magistrate within the permissible period under
The Supreme Court, after examining the police
information book which did not contain a contemporaneous entry of
arrest and the pocket note book of the arresting officer, held
that the police
Did not receive information as to the
involvement of the two petitioners in vehicle robbery and JVP
activities, the failure to produced documentary evidence from
the police station concern establish that the OIC had no more
that a vague suspicion in regard to vehicle robberies, and
did not have credible information or reasonable ground for
suspicion that they were concerned in an offense.
The court accordingly held that the arrest was
On the allegation of torture the court stated
There is overwhelming evidence of the
cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out, they were
kept blind folded for long periods and hand-cuffed with their
hands behind their back. If suspects are detained for long
periods in places which are neither sufficiently secure nor
designed for such purposes, instead of more suitable places
provided under the law, a special duty lie upon the
authorities to ensure that necessary precautions to prevent
escape are reasonable and human and not cruel and inhuman.
They were subjected to frequent and severe assault, and
relations were often prevented from giving them food. Those
who saw them during this period state that they could hardly
stand; their hands were so heavy and painful that when one
hand-cuff was removed for meals, that hand could me be raised
to the mouth, which had to be lowered to the plate so that
food could be pushed inside.
The Supreme Court further found that despite
numerous complaints of cruelty and torture the police took no
action to have the suspects physically examined. The court
indicated it considered this omission to be significant since
such a step could have effectively negatived for accusation of
The Supreme Court found that the torture was
for the purpose of extracting information. The court stated
further "the ill-treatment meted out to the detainees was
for the purpose of extracting information: It was harsh and
prolonged in nature".
Awarding the detainees compensation v. the
state, Supreme Court directed as follows:- "the state,
through the IGP or other appropriate officer, to inquire and take
appropriate action (by way of criminal proceedings and
disciplinary action against the persons responsible) in respect
of the treatment meted out to the Detainees".
No steps have been taken to carry out the
directions delivered in July 1990. The Court's findings with
regard to the kind of conduct which constitutes torture and in
human treatment, and the impressibility of such treatment for the
purpose of extracting information should have been the basis of
training of the police and security forces on what was not
permissible for the purposes of counter-subversion.
- Porage Lakshman v. Rohan Fernando, HQI
Homagama Police Station SC application 24/90
The Supreme Court found the Police to be
responsible while directing the state to pay Rs. 400,000/-
compensation to the petitioner in a Fundamental Rights
The series of events around this order is as
follows:- The petitioner filed a breach of Fundamental Rights
Application in the courts alleging torture and inhuman treatment
by the HQI Homagama Police station while he was held in custody
at the police station in 1989. On a date of inquiry in to the
application, the petitioner stated to court that he wish to
withdraw that application; but the Supreme Court, on learning
that he had been brought to court in the custody of the
respondent Police, gave him a further date to come to a decision
on whether he wished to do so. On that further date however the
petitioner was absent, and the evidence of his wife was that he
had been abducted in a police vehicle. The alleged disappearance
was referred for inquiry by the then Presidential Commission of
Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal of Persons. That Commission
reported to the Supreme Court that "there was credible
evidence that the petitioner had been involuntarily removed on
15.02.1991 in a police vehicle". The Supreme Court's
award of compensation was in respect of the breach of a citizen's
right to petition the Supreme Court where he feels his
fundamental rights under the Constitution had been abused by
executive or administrative action.
No disciplinary inquiry, further investigation
or prosecution has taken place to-date. The officer concerned has
since been promoted to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of
- Gonsalwasan Thilakasena v. Brigadier
Karunathilake Co-ordination officer, Kegalle et. al. HCA
In this case the President Court of Appeal in
1995 made in award of Rs. 100,000/- damages against an army
officer in a Habeas Corpus Application case. IGP was ordered by
the court to direct further investigation if there was evidence
of the Commission of Cognizable offense. The compensation has
been paid to court. The officer concerned continued to be in
service and has received promotion. Evidence of further acts of
disappearance by this officer subsequent to the award in this
case has been proved before this Commission.
These are only a few examples of the failure to
prosecute despite the availability of evidence.
Disappearance in custody has been proved to the
satisfaction of the Court of Appeal in some Habeas Corpus
Applications, while the Chief Magistrate Colombo has made
findings of responsibility for disappearances in several other
cases referred to him for inquiry by the Court of Appeal and now
awaiting final consideration by the Court of Appeal. A list of
these cases is annexed to this report with the strong
recommendation that the IGP and the attorney General be directed
to take requisite steps for further investigations, prosecution
and disciplinary action against the perpetrators.
In the few cases where evidence regarding
removals of persons existed and those responsible were revealed,
not only was there a failure to take further action (prosecution,
disciplinary actions) but some of them even received promotions
We appealed to the Gods to punish the
perpetrators. Now we appeal to the Government we created to
- Leading member of the Mothers'
The objective of the tremendous pains
relatives take in respect of the disappeared is to punish the
perpetrators, not compensation.
- Lawyers for Human Rights and
Many senior Police and Army officers
continued holding positions of power and authority in areas
where there were many well documented instances of their
participation in bringing about disappearances. This meant
the people continued to live in a climate of fear. This is an
issue of great concern even today.
"The elephants destroy our crops. The Army
destroyed our husbands."
[Missing in the original report]
[Missing in the original report]
3. The Southern insurrection was over by
February '90. See Table 1 ante.
4. See special Report on "the
investigation in the Richard de Zoysa case"
5. "I am happy to have the opportunity
of giving evidence before this Commission. Until today there has
been no inquiry or police investigation. Four the people died in
my house that day. I told the police I could identified one of
the abductors of my son if an identification parade was held.
They said: are you a lawyer? The perpetrators could have been
found if an identification parade had been held. There were
eye-witnesses who should have been questioned. The villager who
warned me on the previous day that Green Tigers had come to the
area could have been questioned." S"s mother.
6. See Special Report on "The
investigation of the Hokandara Mass Grave".
7. The camps registers contain no record of
the arrest of these persons and the local police have recorded
relations" complaints as disappearances merely. No official
investigation, prosecution or disciplinary inquiry has taken
8. He is unable however to produce any
records of detention and release.
9. See Special Report on Embilipitiya School
10. The practice of the ICRC is to obtain the
signature of the detainee to the letter sent to the family
informing his whereabouts. A copy of an ICRC letter is annexed.
The Court of Appeal in Habeas Corpus
Application No : 89/91 has directed the HQI Matara police and the
Sub-Inspector in charge of the Counter-Subversive Unit Matara
Police to pay compensation to B's father in respect of his
disappearance. The Magistrate's findings in this case was:
"Their evidence as a whole reveals
what the respondents wanted was a judicial record of release
of (S.B.) that after his release at 4.10 p. m. he was taken
back to the police station, and thereafter disappeared."
11. Hansard Vol 64 Part 6 Column 805
Proceedings of 26.04.89
12. Report of the Independent Surrender
Committee page 9.
13. At p. 54
14. Indo-Lanka Accord signed 29.07.87 Para
The President of Sri Lanka will grant a
general amnesty to political and other prisoners now held in
custody and other Emergency laws, and to combatants, as well
as to those persons accused, charged and/or convicted under
15. HC Colombo case No: 3718/88 See Special
Report in Volume II
Posted on 1999-01-01