Sri Lanka Brief
NewsDisappearances: Is Commissioner Paranagama a ‘His master’s voice?’

Disappearances: Is Commissioner Paranagama a ‘His master’s voice?’


Former judge Maxwell Paranagama, the head of the government appointed commission probing missing persons has repeated GoSL allegations related to war time disappearance without any proper investigation.

On speaking to media after the commission sittings in Mannar he has said that ””We have information that some of those reported as missing are living overseas. The foreign ministry wrote to the embassies asking for details of those living in their respective countries. But giving security reasons they have refused to give details,”

GoSL is stand accused of many war time disappearances. Under such a situation when the commission repeats the positions of the GoSL related to disappearances it loses its credibility.

Is the commissioner has made his own investigation on this issue or he is just repeating the GoSL position?  If he has done his own investigation will he publish the findings in full?

This was a hackneyed argument of the Sri Lanka government to mislead the public on numbers of war time disappearances. The present Chief Justice told UNHRC panel that the abducted and disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda is  living in abroad. But when questioned at the court he could not give any information on his assertion.  Now former judge Paranagama too has come to the same conclusion. His statement that ” The foreign ministry wrote to the embassies asking for details of those living in their respective countries. But giving security reasons they have refused to give details” too is a borrowed position form the Sri Lanka government.

Commissioner Parangama’s poor knowledge of the political discussions on the disappearance in Sri Lanka is apparent fromm what he has said on the number of disappearances in Mannar. He has told media that “For example in Mannar 1,47,000 disappearances had been talked of. But our Commission received only 312 complaints of disappearances,”

The number of 1,47,000 unaccounted people in the Vanni [not in Mannar] was raised by the Bishop Rayappu Joseph in his statement to the LLRC.  The Boshop’s statement was based on the figures on the high government officials, including the Vanni District secretary at during the war.

This is what the Bishop told LLRC:

“Due clarification should be made regarding what happened to 146,679 people, which is the discrepancy between the number of people who came to government controlled areas between October 2008 – May 2009 and the population reported to be in Vanni in early October 2008,”

This number was based on the records of the SL Government Agent offices of Mullaiththeevu and Ki’linochchi districts; the population of Vanni was 429,059 in October 2008. The total number of people who got into SL government control after the war was 282,380, according to UN update as of 10 July 2009.

Is commissioner Paranagana ignorant on how the number of 146,679 came in to being or he is just dancing to the government tune?

It seems Commissioner Paranagma more interested in justifing GoSL arguments than finding what has happened to the disappeared people. What is inportant is not the numbers but the politics of Disappearance.

Over to you, Commissioner Parangama.
[File photo:DISAPPEARED Relatives of missing Sri Lankans protested last October during a visit by a United Nations official/ Gemunu marasinghe/Associated Press]

Back to Top