Devanesan Nesiah appointed to inquire Jaffna disappearances

[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 November 2002, 15:20 GMT]
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka Saturday appointed a one-man committee, Mr.Devanesan Nesiah, a retired civil servant and the government agent of Jaffna, to probe into complaints of disappearances of persons arrested by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) during 1996-1997 military operations in Jaffna district. A leading human rights activist Mr.M.C.M.Iqbal will function as the Committee's secretary, sources said.

The Chairman of HRC, Dr.Godfrey Gunatilake, announced the appointment at a discussion held between the HRC delegation and the representatives of the Association of Guardians of Missing Arrested Persons (AGMAP) in Jaffna District. The discussion took place Saturday at the Jaffna office of the HRC.

Parents and relatives of the missing have complained to the government authorities that their children and relatives disappeared after the arrest by Sri Lanka military personnel in the peninsula during 1996-1997 military operations in Jaffna during the Peoples Alliance (PA) government.

Representatives of the AGMAP, Displaced People Welfare Associations, Jaffna Citizen Committee and Jaffna district political unit of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam participated in the discussion. On behalf of the HRC, commissioners Mr.N.Selvakumaran, Mrs. Manouri Muttetuwagama and the Jaffna district HRC co-ordinator Mr.R.P.Chandrasekara attended the discussion. Mr.Devanesan Nesiah and Mr.M.C.M.Iqbal were also present.

Dr.Godfrey Gunatilake said that due to the non-availability of funds the initiatives taken by the HRC earlier to appoint such committee did not succeed.

"Now we are able to appoint such committee as we have received funds from the international community. The committee will commence its sittings from December 16. Within six months we will be able to release our report determining the fate of those youths arrested by the State armed forces and later reported to be disappeared," said Dr.Godfrey Gunatilake, HRC Chairman.

Later the HRC delegation led by its Chairman met the Jaffna's Additional Government Agent Mr.T.Vaithilingam and other officials at the District Secretariat and discussed several issues including the progress made in resettlement of displaced and removal of mines in the peninsula.

The HRC delegation in the afternoon held discussion with the LTTE district political representatives separately. Later the HRC Chairman Dr.Godfrey Gunatilake speaking to local journalists complimented the LTTE for taking keen interest in taking forward the peace process.

"In the peaceful environment people expect more constructive approach from the HRC in safeguarding human rights and action against HR violations," said Dr.Godfrey Gunatilake.

Amnesty International said in 1997 that as many as 600 people who "disappeared" in the Jaffna peninsula after the Sri Lankan Army moved into the area in 1996, "died under torture or been deliberately killed."


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