KILINOCHUCI ( NORTH SRI LANKA ): Sri Lanka’s Missing Persons’ Commission will suggest issuance of “missing person” certificates to families of those who could not be traced even after the best efforts, Suranjana Vidyaratne, one of the members of the panel, told newspersons here on the sidelines of the public hearing here on Monday.
“The commission will go the whole hog to trace missing persons, but if the efforts are fruitless, it will recommend the issuance of a ‘missing person’ certificates to bring the cases to a close,” Vidyaratne said.
“The commission is setting up a well coordinated counselling system to help persons traumatised by the disappearance of a kin. Presently, there are counsellors doing the job, but coordination is necessary. Counsellors will give priority to extreme cases such as those who will not settle for anything other than the return of the missing person and then go down to less hard cases,” she added.
War Crimes Aid
In July this year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had enlarged the mandate of the commission to include charges of war crimes, as demanded by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Asked if the commission would be able to cope with the additional task, Chairman Maxwell Paranagama said that it will be, as enforced disappearance is also a war crime.
“We have begun asking questions to elicit information on forcible recruitment by the LTTE; charges of disproportional use of destructive power by the armed forces; use of humans as shields by the LTTE; and the brutal methods used by the LTTE to prevent civilians from fleeing to safety,” he said.
“Although those who come before the commission are more concerned about finding the missing person, some are answering questions relating to other violations of humanitarian law,” he said.
“Most say that the LTTE had forcibly recruited their children. Some say that the missing person was last seen moving towards the army side or surrendering to the army. What they do not say is, which side was shelling them. The commission is looking into records in hospitals, detention camps and rehabilitation centres. The government asked other countries to give details of Sri Lankans seeking refugee status, but to no avail,” Paranagama said.
16 nagai, pudukai fishermen detained
Nagapattinam/Pudukkottai: As many as 16 fishermen, seven from Nagapattinam and nine from Pudukkottai, were Tharangambadi were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel on charges of poaching into Sri Lankan waters late on Monday night. A trawler belonging to Nagai fishermen and three boats of Pudukkottai fishermen were also confiscated. When they were indulging in fishing activities near the Karaitheevu waters, Sri Lankan navy personnel have apprehended the fishermen along with their mechanised trawler. The official website of SL Navy has said that the seven fishermen were apprehended for poaching into Sri Lankan waters at the North-West direction off the coast of Karaitheevu on Monday night. The fishermen were handed over to the fisheries and aquatic resources officials in Jaffna district on Tuesday for initiating legal actions.