Amnesty International called on Sri Lanka to release a comprehensive list of Tamil civilians and cadres that surrendered to Sri Lanka’s armed forces during the final phases of the ethnic conflict.
“The mass disappearance of those who surrendered at the end of the war is a clear indication of the institutionalization of the practice of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka. The State’s concealment of the fate, whereabouts and information of the disappeared person triggers criminal responsibility,” said the rights organisation in a press release on May 18.
Noting the case of Father Francis who led a group of surrenders to Sri Lanka’s armed forces and was disappeared along with the hundreds of surrenders, Amnesty International said,
“According to family members who witnessed the surrenders, they were transported from the site by the army in a convoy of buses: their fate and whereabouts since then remain unknown. Amnesty International reported on this alleged case of mass enforced disappearance in an April 2017 report.”
Amnesty went onto note the inability of Sri Lanka’s justice system to order the military to publish the list of those that surrendered at the end of the armed conflict.
“As far back as August 2013, 13 of those families filed habeas corpus applications in the courts of Sri Lanka, seeking information about their whereabouts. They claim to have last seen their family members in the custody of the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army. In February 2016, the General Officer Commanding of the Division, Major General Kavinda Chanakya Gunawardena was ordered to submit the list to the Mullaitivu Magistrate court before 19 April 2016. Subsequent to failing to produce this list on two occasions, the Magistrate in late September 2016 ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate. This was after ruling that the documents eventually filed by the army were not a complete record of all those who had been detained by army, but instead reflected only those people who had completed “rehabilitation.”
See full statement here.