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Chair of govt commission accuses NGOs of inflating disappearance numbers

The chair of the government's commission into disappearances accused civil society organisations of falsely inflating numbers of those missing in the North of the island.

“After all the publicity that was given, we only received about 375 complaints from Mannar,” said Maxwell Paranagama. The commission held public sittings in Mannar last week.

“When we asked the organisation to forward the family members of those who went missing, if there is such high number, the organisation failed to do so,” he added.

The Tamil National Alliance, the Tamil National People's Front, and the prominent civil society campaigner, the Bishop of Mannar, have criticised the domestic inquiry, stating it is unable to provide justice to the Tamils.

Despite the appointments of international experts, including most recently a rights activist from India, to the advise the commission, President Rajapaksa has stressed the international experts will not have any investigative power.

The commission has also been widely criticised by international rights organisations, for its lack of of impartiality on a background of a long history of failed domestic commissions, as well as the lack of witness protection.

The fears of witness intimidation come after several instances of intimidation of disappearances campaigners.

In March this year, the prominent disappearances campaigner, Balendran Jeyakumari was arrested by state forces. She remains in detention under Sri Lanka's notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows detention without charge.

Earlier this month, a meeting of families of the disappeared was disrupted by a Buddhist monk led mob, despite the presence of delegates from western diplomatic missions. Condemning the incident, the US embassy in Colombo expressed concern over the Sri Lankan police's apparent endorsement of the mob.


See related articles:

TNA remains sceptical over government commission (27 July 2014)

CPA criticises expansion of presidential commission mandate (25 July 2014)

TNA says it has no faith in Presidential commission (19 July 2014)

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