Prisons check disappoints missing youths' parents

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 May 2002, 16:38 GMT]
The Missing Person's Guardian Association (MPGA) of Jaffna said Thursday after visiting Sri Lankan government prisons outside the northern peninsula that it would launch fresh protests to demand that Colombo investigate the fate of more than 600 youth who went missing after being arrested by the Sri Lanka army in Jaffna in 1997-96.

A group of 13 parents from the MPGA visited jails in Kandy, Badulla, Kalutara, Colombo, Banadarawela, Negombo, Batticaloa and Trincomalee from 10 to 15 May to check whether any of the missing youth or clues as to what may have happened to them could be found there.

"We were grievously disappointed when the prison authorities refuses to let anyone of us inside although we had official permission to do so", said Mr. S. Satkunam, the secretary of the MPGA.

"The prison guards took the list of missing youth inside and then came back and told us there was none of them were being held," he added.

Mr. Satkunam said that the MPGA delegation met the chairman of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority for the North (RRAN) Mr. N Vamadevan to ask him about the 167 missing youth who his organisation claimed were dead.

The RRAN announced during the elections to the Sri Lankan Parliament in December last year that 167 of the missing youth were confirmed dead and offered death certificates and compensations to their parents.

The MPGA, however, denounced this as a "cruel election gimmick" by the paramilitary group EPDP, the main Tamil ally of President Kumaratunga, to prevent the parents of the missing youth from embarrassing its political campaign.

Mr. Satkunam said that the MPGA's protest would paralyse the district secretariat next week.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court Thursday directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioner General of Prisons to submit a full report regarding suspects held island wide under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). "This report should be submitted to the Supreme Court as well as the Attorney General with in two months time," the three-member bench comprised Justices Mark Fernando, Ameer Ismail and C.V.Vigneswaran further said in its order.

"If the suspects had been subjected to medical examinations details of such examinations and places they are being held and the period of detention should be included in the report," the Supreme Court directed the IGP and the Commissioner General of Prisons.

The SC made this order when it inquired into the petition filed by one suspect held at Kalutara prisons under the PTA. The petitioner-suspect K.Samankumara of Colombo had sought his release from detention under the PTA.

The SC ordered the release of the petitioner from detention when the Attorney General intimated through the State Counsel that the petitioner could be freed as the prosecution was not in a position to proceed with the case.


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