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CHAPTER SIX - THE ISSUE OF IMPUNITY

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 disappearances.1

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 protected. 2

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 blocks.
  • 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 Excellency.

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

Time Period

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

59

228

260

3052

811

349

58

23

1

1

0

2

0

1

B

33

148

202

326

34

24

1

2

0

2

0

2

0

1

A - Security Forces and Allies

B - Subversives

The Main Casualty as always was Civil Society.

 

2. State Terrorism as an Instrument of counter-Subversion

The use of illegal acts as "weapons of war":

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 forensic evidence.

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. 3

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. 4

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. 5

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. 6

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 School Boys

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 the area. 8

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. 9

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 detention.

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. 10

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 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 Emergency.

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. 11

"Killed in an exchange of fire with subversives."

  • 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 again.

- 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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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:
  1. to sit for a public exam
  2. 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)

  1. 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 10469)

  1. 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 Weligama 9986)
  2. 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 353/90)

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 Surrender/Rehabilitation/Release

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. 12

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:

 

At Subversive
Hands

Other Than
Subversive

01.01.90 to 31.03.90

27

941

01.04.90 to 31.08.90

21

617

01.09.91 to 31.12.90

10

262

Total

58

1820

Total : 58 + 1820 = 1878

   

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 movement.

Report of the Independent Surrender Committee 13

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 1987, 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 Proceeding.

Some striking examples follow

The Liyanarachchi case: 15

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 emergency regulations.

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 unlawful/

On the allegation of torture the court stated as follows:

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 torture.

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 Application.

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 Police.

- Gonsalwasan Thilakasena v. Brigadier Karunathilake Co-ordination officer, Kegalle et. al. HCA 67/92.

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 and medals.

We appealed to the Gods to punish the perpetrators. Now we appeal to the Government we created to do so.

- Leading member of the Mothers' Front

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 Development

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.

Secretary, "INFORM"

 

"The elephants destroy our crops. The Army destroyed our husbands."

 

ENDNOTES

1. [Missing in the original report]

2. [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 place.

8. He is unable however to produce any records of detention and release.

9. See Special Report on Embilipitiya School Boys.

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 2:11

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 these laws.

15. HC Colombo case No: 3718/88 See Special Report in Volume II

Posted on 1999-01-01



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