Lanka disappearances panel to submit final report in August

A Sri Lankan presidential panel probing the alleged disappearances of thousands of people, including minority Tamils, during the deadly civil war will present its final report in August, an official said today.

“We are hoping to be able to release the final report in August,” said H W Gunadasa, secretary to the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons.

International experts appointed to advise the Commission are currently assisting in preparation of the report.

_50729364_relatives-of-the-missingThe three-member Commission headed by retired judge Maxwell Paranagama was appointed in 2013 by Sirisena’s predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, after international pressure on his regime demanding accountability for the alleged human rights abuse during the nearly three-decade war with the LTTE.

The Commission would soon see an increase in the number of commissioners.

“We will know by next week the names that are to be recommended to increase the number of commissioners from present three to five,” Gunadasa said.

The Commission, in its interim report submitted in April, pinned the blame on at least four different groups, including security forces and the LTTE, for the disappearances in the former conflict zones in the east and the north.

It had blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for 60 per cent of the forced disappearances in the north while security forces were responsible for 30 per cent of them. Other armed groups and unknown groups were responsible for the rest.

“Based on the enquiries conducted thus far accountability and responsibility by these parties vary from district to district,” it had said.

The commission has received nearly 16,153 complaints of disappearances of individuals, 5,200 of them came from family members of the disappeared security forces personnel.

The Commission has heard oral evidence of nearly 1,440 complainants.

The panel’s mandate was extended by Rajapaksa in 2014 to include war crimes in response to an international outcry against his regime.

Three international experts were also appointed by Rajapaksa to advise the Commission.

According to UN estimates, up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by security forces during Rajapaksa’s regime that brought an end to the nearly three decades-long war with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

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