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Countless commissions but still no answers on Sri Lanka’s disappearances of Tamils

(Tamil families of the disappeared in Kilinochchi are marking seven years of continuous roadside protests, as they demand to know the whereabouts of their forcibly disappeared family members)

Marking 7 years of continuous protests by Tamil families of the disappeared, a statement from a coalition of organisations recalled how countless Sri Lankan government commissions have been appointed but none have brought answers or served justice, with many still to publish their findings.

Releasing a statement to mark the anniversary the International Trust and Justice Project, the Center for Human Rights and Development, Women’s Action Network and families of the disappeared noted that “victims say justice and accountability remains elusive”.

“Sri Lankan victims have lost count of the number of government commissions established to look into gross violations of human rights, as yet another one is about to be established,” said the organisations. “The Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation Commission is the latest in a line of at least 36 commissions established by the Government of Sri Lanka to look for the truth.”

The communique lists at least 36 past commissions set up by the Sri Lankan Government – more than a third of which never even published their reports. Additionally, very few are even displayed on any government website, despite being for a large part digitized. The organisations said it found only a handful of copies, approximately half - 11 - of the 22 published reports of past commissions.

“This raises serious concerns about the Sri Lankan President’s latest accountability initiative,” said the statement. “The first step towards truth would surely be for the Presidential website to acknowledge and endorse the content of past government investigations by publishing them online. In the spirit of truth, this should include reports that name the President, like the Batalanda Commission, which concluded inter alia that the torture and detention at the Batalanda torture site couldn't happen without Ranil Wickremesinghe’s knowledge.”

“We remember the 240 relatives who died tragically without learning the truth about their loved one's fate,” said the ITJP. “And we stand in solidarity with thousands of victims, witnesses, and human rights defenders in the country who are exhausted after spending decades already establishing the truth about different atrocities.”

The full statement is accessible here

Tamil families of the disappeared held black flags and photographs of their loved ones as they marched in Kilinochchi calling on the government to investigate and prosecute those responsible, as they marked seven years of protest last week. Read more here.


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