( LTTE Female fighters)
The Presidential Commission to inquire into and report on alleged abductions or disappearances notes that allegations of forced disappearances, abductions and arbitrary arrests have been made against the LTTE, security forces, armed groups and unknown groups. Based on the inquiries conducted thus far, accountability and responsibility by these parties vary from district to district, and in the Northern Province, 60% of the allegations were levelled against the LTTE, 30% against the security forces, 5% against armed groups and 5% against unknown groups.
The Presidential Commission to inquire into and report on alleged abductions or disappearances that occurred during the period January 1, 1983 to May 19, 2009 submitted its Interim Report to His Excellency the President on April 10, 2015.
The three-member Commission comprising Mr Maxwell Paranagama as Chairman, Mrs Suranjana Vidyaratne and Mrs Mano Ramanathan makes its observations following its conduct of 11 Public Sittings in Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa, Mannar, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Ampara, and discussions with various stakeholder groups. By April 9, 2015, the Commission had received 16,153 complaints from residents in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and 5,200 complaints from the families of security forces personnel.
In its Interim Report, the Commission has specified by way of charts and graphs the nature of complaints received in terms of ethnicity, age and gender of the missing person, year and district, and the allegedly responsible party. The Report also contains allegations by parents of missing persons that their children continue to be kept in prisons, refugee camps, and detention centers without any information made available to their families.
The Commission has also reported cases of forced disappearances and abductions alleged to have been committed by officers of the security forces, according to oral submissions made by relatives of missing persons, which require to be referred to the Attorney General for judicial action. Grave incidents requiring in-depth investigation have also been reported based on oral submissions made at public sittings. These include the Sathurukondan and Eastern University Massacres of 1990; Massacre of 600 Policemen in 1990 in Ampara; and Massacre of Muslim civilians in Kurukalmadam. The Commission has recommended that these allegations be further investigated by a special investigating team to gather credible evidence against person/s responsible in order to institute criminal proceedings according to domestic laws.
The Commission’s procedure for inquiry also entailed an examination of medical registers from relevant hospitals that treated patients during the conflict and its aftermath in order to ascertain information and track the whereabouts of missing persons. The Commission, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had also requested information on names of persons who may have sought refuge in foreign countries, but such information had not been disclosed by foreign governments citing privacy laws.
The Commission had made written requests to the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Justice to release to the Commission names of persons who were in custody of prisons, detention camps, refugee camps, and rehabilitation centers. While noting with regret that such requests had not been complied with, the Commission decided to notice the respective officers to appear before the Commission in terms of the powers vested in the Commission by the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act.
While executing its mandate, the Commission had held extensive discussions with the ICRC, UN agencies including the UNHCR, diplomatic representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and India, UN Special Rappoteur Mr Pablo Degreef, and Sri Lankan media organizations. During these discussions, the Commission had regularly conveyed information on the steps taken to implement its mandate in a transparent and independent manner.