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Relatives of disappeared testify before commission in Jaffna

Crowds gather at Nallur as the first day of the commission began. Photographs: Tamil Guardian

Tamil families in Jaffna testified before Sri Lanka’s presidential commission into disappearances this week, pleading for information on their whereabouts of their missing loved ones.

The first phase of the sittings took place in Nallur where 235 complaints were filed, with proceedings continuing today.

Proceedings are continuing a despite government announcement in October that the process was to be scrapped, after Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister conceded “most of the people are not happy with the Commission and they have no faith in its process”.

The events were overseen by Justice Maxwell Paranagama, who has previously rejected the UN Panel of Experts' estimated death toll of 40,000 Tamil civilians at the end of the armed conflict in 2009, as well as criticism from UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussain who called for the disbandment of the commission.

The commission is set to hear cases from across Jaffna until the 16th of December.

Earlier this week, families of missing Tamils staged a protest in Jaffna to express their disappointment with the commission, demanding instead that any further investigations should be carried out by independent, international actors.

Last month a Tamil family whose whereabouts were unknown after surrendering to the Sri Lankan military in May 2009, were dropped off by unknown persons in Jaffna last week, after more than six years in custody.

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