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Paramilitary leader appointed minister for resettlement, rehabilitation and the North

The leader of the EPDP, a pro-government Tamil paramilitary organisation accused of committing human rights abuses throughout and after the war, has been given a ministerial portfolio responsible for several key Tamil issues.

The paramilitary leader Douglas Devananda was appointed ‘Minister of Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Development, and Hindu Religious Affairs’ today in the cabinet of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The EPDP was one of the groups closest aligned to Rajapaksa, supporting him in the 2005 presidential election. The group stands accused of committing murders, extortion and running drug smuggling and prostitution rings with Tamil children, allegedly trafficking them into its networks in Malaysia and India.

See more on the EPDP’s activities, described in a leaked US embassy cable from 2007, here.

Civil society members have expressed concern over Devanada’s portfolio having control over all government-held information pertaining to former LTTE cadres.