“Sri Lanka Premier Starts With Fixing Civil War Ills” by Gardiner Harris

Tens of thousands went missing during the civil war ending in 2009, including people who were killed in battles as well as those said to have been shot in custody. But there have long been rumors of secret camps holding thousands of detainees, a notion Mr. Wickremesinghe sought to dispel.

“There are a few hundreds, I think, not thousands,” he said. “There are people who are missing whose names are not found anywhere,” which means they either “are not among the living or they left the country. That’s all.”

via: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/world/asia/sri-lankas-leader-grapples-with-release-of-political-prisoners.html?_r=0

“The Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons: Trends, Practices and Implications” by CPA

The present critique by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) captures key issues and trends observed during public sittings of the Commission and the perceptions of affected communities and civil society who have observed and engaged with the present process. At the very outset CPA notes that the Commission, operating under the Commissions of Inquiry apparatus, is structurally flawed, given its dependence on the Executive for appointments, financing and follow up action. Having observed a string of failed State initiatives at transitional justice in recent years and the lack of progress with past Commissions appointed by successive governments, CPA calls for immediate steps to be taken for legal and policy reform that provides for a genuine and credible domestic process at truth seeking, justice and accountability. Failure in this regard further confirms the inability of domestic processes to address grievances in a post war context and strengthens calls for international investigations.

Access the full document here – http://www.cpalanka.org/the-presidential-commission-to-inv…/

“Bishop of Mannar’s letter to Presidential Commission on Missing Persons” by Groundviews

As Ms. Navaneetham Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted in her report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014, the problem in Sri Lanka is one of lack of political will to end impunity. Despite knowing this acutely for many years now, I personally appeared before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and gave evidence. The Government has not acted seriously on any of the issues on which the Tamil people including myself gave evidence. Given this experience I find it impossible to draw myself to appear before your commission

via: http://groundviews.org/2014/08/11/bishop-of-mannars-letter-to-presidential-commission-on-missing-persons/

“Concerns on the Expansion of the Mandate of the Commission of Inquiry to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons” by CPA

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned by the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GOSL) dilution of the primary mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons (COI). These concerns arise from the Gazette No.187/18, issued on 15th July 2014 expanding the mandate of the COI, of which the sole purpose was to investigate and inquire into disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during the period 1st January 1983 to 19th May 2009. CPA has from the inception of the present COI, attended and monitored its public sittings, engaged to ensure grievances of affected communities are given due attention and advocated for structural, administrative and policy changes to advance the long term goals of truth, justice and accountability. CPA fears for the integrity of the COI, in particular, that its primary task of investigating and inquiring into the thousands of missing persons in Sri Lanka will be severely curtailed by the present gazette. CPA therefore urges the authorities to take immediate steps to protect the integrity of the COI by revising the present gazette and introducing much needed structural and policy reform.

Read full Press Release here – http://www.cpalanka.org/concerns-on-the-expansion-of-the-mandate-of-the-commission-of-inquiry-to-investigate-into-complaints-regarding-missing-persons/

“Families seek answers over missing” by Colombo Gazette

Families of people reported missing in Puthukkudieruppu (PTK) appeared yesterday and today before the Presidential Commission to record complaints regarding missing persons.

via: http://colombogazette.com/2014/07/06/families-seek-answers-over-missing/

source: colombogazette.com

“A Commentary on the Presidential Commission to Investigate Missing Persons During the Period of June 1990 – May 2009 in the Northern and Eastern Provinces: Issues and Concerns in the Search for Truth, Justice and Accountability” by CPA

6 March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has closely monitored previous Commissions of Inquiry (CoI) appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and recommended policy alternatives in the search for truth, justice and accountability. While CPA acknowledges the need to have credible domestic processes, the present framework does not provide for an independent inquiry. As such, CPA at the outset calls for legislative reform to amend the present Commission of Inquiry Act to ensure that future CoIs are independent and free from the interference of the Government and its agents. CPA also calls for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and for domestic legislation to be brought in line with international standards.

The present document consists of two sections. Section “A” briefly examines the shortcomings of the CoI mechanism in general in the context of the existing legal and constitutional framework. This section draws on the substantial body of work previously done by CPA in relation to CoIs in the past.

In this document CPA has broadly highlighted the underlying shortcomings of the CoI mechanism in Sri Lanka, calling into question its legitimacy and independence, as control over appointments, formulation of mandates and functions are all powers deeply embedded within the Executive. CPA believes that there needs to be societal and victims’ consultation throughout the CoI process in order for it to be an inclusive one that assures confidence in the system. Furthermore, all CoI reports should be made available to the public, thereby complementing the process with transparency.

Section “B” examines the latest commission appointed on disappearances. Several concerns are raised and recommendations are made to address these concerns. The concerns and recommendations highlighted are made in the spirit of constructive engagement. CPA urges the Commission to consider these recommendations when designing its future work plan and their specific inclusion in the interim report to be handed over to the President.

CPA’s specific examination of the ongoing work of this CoI, leads us to the conclusion that on the basis of its formulation and current operation, the Commission is incapable of carrying out a comprehensive, independent and transparent inquiry.

The issue of missing persons and the connected social and psychological challenges confronting families of missing persons pose serious challenges to reconciliation in a post war setting. It is hoped that the Commission will continue its functions mindful of these challenges. Similar initiatives in the past have failed to ensure victims’ right to truth and justice. The present Commission, beset by structural flaws and the specific concerns regarding its functioning, does not inspire confidence that it will prove to be any different. CPA urges therefore that the Commission takes onboard the proposed recommendations to provide victims and affected communities with much needed redress and to make the call for much needed reform in the search for truth, justice and accountability in Sri Lanka.

Download the full report here or read it online here.

source: Centre for Policy Alternatives