Abolish Missing Persons Comm – Dulitzky

CLINTONBy Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Professor Ariel Dulitzky, a member of the UN Working Group on Missing Persons, as recommended to the GOSL, urged the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons to be abolished and all files, records and evidence transferred to the proposed new Office of Missing Persons.

Dulitzky, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Human Rights Clinic told Ceylon Today that the UN Working Group has made a very clear recommendation to the Government of Sri Lanka that the Commission be abolished.

He was commenting on news that the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons has been holding inquires on missing persons in Jaffna last week. “So far the government has shown no sign of heeding our recommendation….but we hope it will be acted upon as soon as possible,” he added, stressing that “we are very hopeful that the government will adopt our recommendations.”

“Our report urged the government to scrap the Presidential Commission and recommended transferring all cases handled by it on Missing Persons to a credible and independent institution, developed in close consultation with families of the disappeared,” he said.
When the UN group was here they lauded the government’s commitment to the humanitarian task of searching for the thousands of disappeared persons in the country.

One of their recommendations was that the new Office of Missing Persons, with support from the ICRC, enforce a highly technical, professional, non-discriminatory, impartial and independent probe into all issues relating to missing persons. In particular, the institution should adopt a victim-centred approach, so as to respond to the needs of the victims searching for their loved ones. A victim-centred institution should be fully accessible to the families of disappeared persons.
Meanwhile, Maxwell Paranagama, Chairman of the Presidential Commission to Inquire into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, says he will continue to hold such inquiries until the mandate ends on 15 February 2016.
Paranagama is on record as having said that the UN Working Group’s report lacks transparency.
The UN Working Group will formally release their report on their findings on September 2016, Prof. Dulitzky said