MoD findings "do not inspire confidence" - Amnesty

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 December 1999, 19:12 GMT]
An independent commission was needed to investigate the "disappearance" of hundreds of people arrested by the Sri Lanka Army in Jaffna in 1996, Amnesty International, the human rights group said today, commenting on the Sri Lankan military's own investigations into the matter.

"The international community is waiting to see how the government deals with human rights violations, committed under both the previous regime and the present one," Amnesty International's Secretary General Pierre SanČ said, in a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunge, asking her to set up such a commission.

"As a preliminary step, the government should make public the findings of an internal investigation by the Ministry of Defence into "disappearances" in Jaffna in mid-1996," Mr SanČ was quoted as saying in a press release issued today.

The Defence Ministry's Board of Investigation informed relatives of the "disappeared", in letters sent out last week, that it cannot establish the fate, or whereabouts, of 374 people arrested by the army in mid-1996, out of more than 700 cases probed.

Amnesty said that unless the Board's findings are made public, it will be difficult to verify them.

"It is important that this be done since it is already clear that some of the findings do not inspire public confidence," Amnesty International said.

Relatives have been told that the fate of at least two of the "disappeared" is not known, even though their bodies were among those exhumed and identified in June this year at Chemmani in Jaffna, the organisation pointed out.

Amnesty International also urged the Sri Lankan government to seek international expertise in forensic criminal investigation to help bring to justice the killers of those whose remains have recently been exhumed by the authorities.

Amnesty says the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have shown interest in providing such assistance.

Experts from Amnesty International who were present during the exhumations of the remains of 15 people in September this year, "concluded that a pattern of injuries had emerged, making it easier to identify the perpetrators of these crimes," the human rights group said.

 

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