Protection seekers in Jaffna face uncertain future

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 July 2008, 00:21 GMT]
Nearly three hundreds civilians who sought protection with Jaffna Human Rights Commision (JHRC) and kept in protective custody within Jaffna prison premises are facing danger of being removed against their wishes as a result of the activities of a local judge, sources in Jaffna said. Continued threats from in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Intelligence and paramilitary operatives forced many civilians to surrender to the HRC from various parts of the peninsula during the past two years. The SLA has earlier forced protection seekers at Jaffna prison to sign a letter, stating that they were LTTE members, before accommodating them to the centre at Thellippazhai.

The affected civilians, fearing for their lives, have already brought this to the attention legal aid centers and humanitarian organizations.

The judge has recently informed young family men and youths that due to the prevailing shortage of space in the prison they cannot be accommodated there indefinitely, and the he will soon have to be give orders to move them to a special rehabilitation centre located in Thellippazhai in SLA controlled area, sources said.

One of the two judges serving in the peninsula has been behaving in this manner to obtain favours including service extensions and promotions, while majority of the judges take into consideration the welfare of the affected civilians, a spokesman for the Association of Jaffna Attorney-at-laws told TamilNet.

Nearly 56 youths remaining in Jaffna prison in protective custody, enticed by false promises of SLA that they will be issued passes to leave the peninsula, surrendered through the courts at the Thellippazhai centre. All of them are still languishing at the center.

Thirteen of these youths are school students under the age of 18, and Suhada Gamlath, Head of Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) during a recent visit had ordered the school age youths to be released.

Mr.Gamlath also recommended the establishment of a special Rehabilitation centre in Kaarainakar but his suggestion was never implemented.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to hand over the Thelippazhai detention centre to Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), informed sources said.

Three of the youths who had sought protection with Jaffna office of HRC were shot and killed within the past three months. At least 20 youths released from Jaffna prison have been slain by unidentified men.

Meanwhile, women and children. are being housed in a Rehabilitation Camp established in the former Appeal Courts building located in Kurunakar.


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