Issuing report Amnesty International requests that the Government of Sri Lanka should cooperate fully with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances – WGEID’s visit by:
- Ensuring its access to all alleged place of detention and mass grave sites, and issuing instructions for all state personnel to facilitate the Working Group’s efforts.
- Ensuring that the Working Group and members of the public have easy access to the reports of all past Commissions of Inquiry in alleged enforced disappearances and other human rights violations, including reports of the Udulagama and Paranagama Commissions14 which were tabled in Parliament in October.
- Welcoming the Working Group’s advice, support and assistance as Sri Lanka moves forward with legal reforms and the development of justice mechanisms including its promises to: repeal and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act, ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and criminalize enforced disappearances under Sri Lankan law, and pursue legal and procedural reforms necessary to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of committing crimes under international law, in accordance with international standards while respecting the rights of the accused, victims and witnesses. This should include amending the Penal Code to include the principle of command responsibility in accordance with international law.
At the same time Amnesty wants UN WGEID to:
- Consult victims and families to determine what they need, want and expect from an accountability process:
Creating effective mechanisms that will deliver truth, justice and full reparation, including guarantees of non-recurrence, will require the active and informed participation of Sri Lankans affected by those violations. WGEID should meet with families of the disappeared and others concerned about enforced disappearances and should encourage and support the Government of Sri Lanka to Initiate wide reaching and meaningful public consultation with victims and their families and all others concerned to understand their needs and expectations regarding truth, justice, full reparation including guarantees of non-recurrence and ensure their full participation in any processes.
- Consult lawyers and civil society activists on the development of mechanisms and areas for legal reform and encourage the Sri Lankan authorities to continue to do so:
The political transition in Sri Lanka has created greater openness for civil society to discuss human rights protection and accountability safely. A number of Sri Lankans are in the process of formulating recommendations aimed at addressing enforced disappearances and other alleged crimes under international law, especially those that took place in the latter stages of the armed conflict. The visit of WGEID provides an important opportunity to discuss these issues with Sri Lankan civil society.
- Visit places of detention, particularly sites of alleged secret or incommunicado detention:
Amnesty International has long called on Sri Lanka to undertake a public and impartial investigation into the alleged use of secret and incommunicado detention and acts of torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances that may have taken place under such conditions, with a view to holding state actors accountable for actions and providing effective remedies for victims of such violations. This includes investigating sites that are alleged to have been used to detain people in the past, even if they are now being used for other purposes.
Where possible, WGEID should request visits to such sites, and should seek clarification from the government on the status of its investigation into reports of abuse in such facilities.
- Visit sites of alleged mass graves and meet with Judicial Medical Officers, lawyers and families concerned about those cases:
There have been allegations of evidence tampering and other official interference in the investigation of alleged mass grave sites discovered in Matale in 2012 and Mannar in 2013.12 It would be very valuable for WGEID to visit those sites and meet with lawyers, family members, judicial medical officers and activists concerned about those cases.
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