South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) strongly endorses the preliminary observations of the three member group of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) following their fourth visit to Sri Lanka that lasted 10 days. SAHR commends the Government of Sri Lanka for taking the initiative to invite the Working Group.
SAHR endorses UNWGEID’s recommendation to the government of Sri Lanka to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances immediately without reservations and with the express recognition of the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances according to articles 31 and 32 of the Convention. SAHR also urges the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Working Group, in particular with regard to making enforced disappearances an offence under the country’s criminal law; repeal of provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act that allow detention without judicial supervision; and strengthening laws on witness protection.
According to the statistics released by the UNWGEID, Sri Lanka has the second largest recorded enforced disappearances in the world; more than 12,000 cases from Sri Lanka over a period of 3 decades have been recorded; out of that, more than 5, 700 cases remain unresolved. Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission established in 2010 received 3596 complaints of enforced disappearances of which more than 1000 disappearances had occurred after the person being arrested or surrendered. The latest commission on enforced disappearances set up by Sri Lanka government with a mandate to investigate enforced disappearances occurred during the period between 1993 and 2009 had received 20,000 complaints of which 5000 are of the personnel of the armed forces while 15,000 are of the civilians.
SAHR, therefore, calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to address this grave issue with commitment and to install effective measures to ensure reparation as well as restorative justice to victims.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Dr. Nimalka Fernando