Journalists barred from Presidential Commission

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 November 1998, 20:02 GMT]
Journalists were barred from attending the sittings of the Presidential Commission, set up to investigate disappearances, which began at the Batticaloa Kachcheri today. The Commission was led by Ms.Manoari Muttatuwegama, wife of the late Ceylon Communist Party MP Sarath Muttetuwegama.

Thirty four witnesses gave evidence before the commission today.

More than 300 witnesses in the Batticaloa district have appeared before the Commission between April 1995 and April 1997.

The Presidential commission was appointed by the PA government to look into the disappearance of civilians due to the action of the Sri Lankan security forces before 1994 - during the UNP's rule.

Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham TULF MP for Batticaloa said that more than 6200 civilians, including women and children, were killed in his district by the Sri Lankan security forces between 1990 and 94.

Relatives of these victims complained that the delay in the commission's work is hindering their long efforts to obtain death certificates for the missing persons.

Tamil political party sources in Batticaloa town said that the Commission might never find justice for the victims as the crimes perpetrated on the local population by the SLA are enormous, such as the bloody massacres of Sathurukkondaan and the refugee camp at the Eastern University.

A human rights task force appointed due to international pressure by the previous UNP regime, under justice Souza, has completed its investigation and produced a report in 1994, on the atrocities committed by the SLA during this period.

The PA appointed Commission has also recorded evidence from the same witnesses about the massacres.

The Commission will meet the President of the Batticaloa Peace Council, Mr.S. Martin and its vice President and leading human rights activist, Rev. Harry Miller S.J.


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