Missing Persons Commission needs MORE TEETH

76721_feeff1Missing Persons Commission needs
 By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, in its fifth periodic report on Sri Lanka, adopted that the State should ensure the rights of families to know the location or status of disappeared persons, by ensuring that the Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints regarding Missing Persons and other relevant bodies are provided with adequate legal powers as well as human, technical and financial resources to operate in an independent, timely and effective manner, that ensures adequate witness protection.

The Committee released its concluding observation at the 3,126th meeting (CCPR/C/SR3126), held on the 27 October 2014.
The Committee report, under the title ‘Enforced disappearances’, stated that the State party has established a Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints regarding Missing Persons, the Committee is concerned at the limited territorial scope of its mandate and the slow rate at which such cases have been investigated and prosecuted.

The HR Committee further urged the government to “expeditiously investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of enforced disappearance, and establish the whereabouts of missing persons, in a transparent and impartial manner.”

The Committee urges the State party to take all measures necessary to vigorously investigate all allegations of unlawful use of force and violations of the right to life, promptly, transparently and impartially, with intent to bring those responsible to justice by prosecuting and punishing, and provide adequate remedies to victims and their relatives.

“It should redouble its efforts to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) pertaining to the need to investigate allegations of serious violations of international law through independent investigative mechanisms. In particular, the State party should ‘Cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in investigating all allegations of serious human rights violations; and, in the context of the Muttur and Trincomalee cases, as well as other similar cases, consider allowing witness testimony by video-link from secure and secret locations in order to facilitate the investigations with due regard to the needs of witness protection,” it has observed.

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