Image: Trinco Navy camp where abducted 11 youth were held.
The Office on Missing Persons (OMP) has decided to raise their concerns with President Maithripala Sirisena on the recent confirmation of rank granted by the Sri Lanka Navy to Commodore D.K.P Dassanayake. The former Navy Spokesman, Dassanayake is one of the main suspects connected to the infamous Navy abductions case where 11 youth are believed to have been abducted between 2008 – 2009 by an abduction ring allegedly carried out by a group of Naval officers.
Chairperson of the OMP, PC Saliya Peiris told the Sunday Observer the OMP will write to the President tomorrow (7) on the matter. Peiris said the recent turn of events could have a chilling effect on the witnesses of the case, especially, witnesses who continue to serve in the Sri Lanka Navy. “Seeing promotions and benefits being granted to suspects could give the witnesses the wrong message,” he said.
The State’s disregard for recommendations made by the OMP on Military and Police officers involved in enforced disappearances has made the task set out for the OMP more difficult, he said.
“This makes our task more difficult,” he said adding that these actions cause the victims to lose faith in the State.
“They are led to believe that their issues are not taken seriously,” he said. Noting that the Navy abductions case is one of the most emblematic cases of enforced disappearances Peiris said there is no justification to promote officers who have been named as suspects while cases are pending before the courts. “Even in a normal bribery case we see the suspect officer being suspended, therefore, there is no justification for this” he pointed out.
The organization had on several occasions written to Defence Ministry officials voicing their concerns on promotions being granted to officers allegedly involved in enforced disappearances that had taken place in the country.
Dassanayake was confirmed in the rank of Commodore by the Sri Lanka Navy on September 27. Previously, Dassanayake had been promoted to the rank of Commodore temporarily on April 8, 2016, effective from January 1, 2015. He has received several service extensions since, managing to actively serve in the Navy despite being named as a suspect in the case in 2017.
Navy Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Isuru Suriyabandara said the confirmation of Dassanayake’s rank materialized following a request made by Dassanayake himself.
Suriyabandara said the Navy had sought legal advice following this request and sent Dassanayake’s plea to the Ministry of Defence for their review. “The Ministry had approved the request to confirm the rank of Commodore,” Suriyabandara said.