Special Sri Lanka panel to probe war-disappeared people

An independent committee will be appointed to investigate the fate of over 11,000 people who disappeared during Sri Lanka`s brutal three-decade civil war, an official said here Thursday.

IANS| Last Updated: Dec 19, 2013, 19:49 PM IST

Colombo: An independent committee will be appointed to investigate the fate of over 11,000 people who disappeared during Sri Lanka`s brutal three-decade civil war, an official said here Thursday.

The special commission will be headed by a retired high court judge, Xinhua reported.

Once the investigations are completed, the findings will be presented to the Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, its Chairman Parakrama Paranagama said.

Over 11,000 persons, both civilians and Sri Lankan army personnel, were reported missing during the 30-year war.

"In our mandate, we have been vested with powers to accept complaints from the north and east," he said, adding that this is where the fighting raged the fiercest.

A total of 5,098 army personnel were reported as disappeared during the war with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), according to the Dead and Missing Persons` Parents Association, but complaints received by the commission are below this figure.

"I as the commission chairman request the parents and relatives of the security forces personnel missing in action, to lodge their complaints at the earliest so that we could commence investigations," Paranagama said.

Among civilians, 6,014 Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims were also reported as missing in the north and east, he noted.

The commission was appointed by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa in September ahead of a crucial visit by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay.

The commission initially was supposed to collect complaints till Nov 30 but the deadline has been extended till the year-end due to the high number of requests.

Sri Lanka has come under fire by the international community for failing to investigate war crimes allegations and cases of missing people.

The government, headed by Rajapaksa, has had two consecutive resolutions passed on it at the UN Human Rights Council and could face a third one in March.