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Presidential Commission on HR violations ceases to function

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:26 No Comment]

The eight-member Presidential Commission which was appointed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2007 to inquire into serious violations of human rights that took place in the year 2006 ceased to function from Sunday without completing its mandate as its term was not extended. The commission was set up amid pressure exerted by local and international human rights organizations to investigate sixteen major human rights violations in the year 2006.

Investigations into seven cases were completed including the killings of five university students, all of them were Tamils in Trincomalee on January 2; 2006, the killing of 17 aid workers of the French INGO ‘Action Against Hunger’ in early August, 2006, the abduction and killing of 14 villagers while they were travelling from Moothoor to Kanthalaai in August, 2006 the killing of 51 people in Chegnchoalai also in August, 2006; the killing of 10 Muslim villagers at Radella on September 17,2006; the killing of 68 passengers in Keppitogollawa on June 15, 2006, and the killing of 98 navy personnel at Digampathaha.

He said the reports and recommendations of the cases on which investigations were completed would be handed over to President Rajapakse soon.

The rest remain not inquired into, Justice Nissanka Udalagama, Chairman of the Commission told media persons.

The commission functioned for seventeen months from its office located in Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH). He added the commission was unable to inquire into the disappearance of Rev. Fr. Jim Brown as his body was not found and the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar as it was still pending in Court. Justice Udalagama said the killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar; the killing of parliamentarians Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadarajah Raviraj; the killing of Peace Secretariat deputy director K.P. Loganathan; the killing of five fishermen at Pesalai; the killing of 13 in Kayts; killing of 13 at Welikanda and the recovery of five headless bodies will remain unresolved with the ending of the Commission’s term of office.

An International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IGEP) was in Sri Lanka representing a number of western countries to observe the proceedings of the commission held at the BMICH. Four witnesses living abroad gave evidence on the Trincomalee Tamil students’ massacre case via video conferencing facilitated by the IGEP.

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