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For UN Human Rights Council in September:

Eelam War missing report soon

The Presidential Commission probing disappearances in Sri Lanka since 1983, will conclude its work on the missing persons issue arising from the last phase of the Eelam War in the next two months in time to present a report to the UN Human Rights Council session scheduled for September in Geneva this year, the Sunday Observer learns.

The issue of missing persons during the final phase of the war in the Vanni is the ‘second mandate’ given to the Commission after it began its work on the original mandate for a general probe into disappearances in the whole country.

The second mandate requires the Commission to look into the disappearances that took place during the last phase of the war during the specific period, January to May 19, 2009.

The period was specified at a time when serious allegations were levelled against government troops for massive human rights abuses including killings, enforced disappearances and abductions.

Chairman of the Commission, retired Judge Maxwell Paranagama told the Sunday Observer the work on the second mandate for which purpose, the three-member Panel of International Experts extended assistance, will conclude by July end. The final report will be ready by August, he said.

An international panel of legal experts appointed in July 2014 by the former President advises the Commission on international humanitarian and human rights law.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), with the support of the United States, deferred till September a report on war crimes on Sri Lanka which was scheduled to be released in March this year, in view of the domestic inquiry.

The work on both mandates continue simultaneously. Under the first mandate, the Commission was tasked to look into the disappearances of people which had taken place in the country from 1983 to 2009.

“The first manadate requires more work and will take more time,” Judge Paranagama said adding that they have finalised work on 2,400 complaints, out of a total of nearly 20,000 complaints of dissapearances. This includes 5,000 complaints from the relatives of security forces. The interim report of the Commission was handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena on April 10.

The Commission has also asked for two additional commissioners and four full-time investigating teams comprising four retired police officers each, to help expedite their work.

The Disappearances Commission that was appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in August 2013, began sittings in January 2014. It is chaired by retired High Court Judge Paranagama and comprises Priyanthi Suranjana Vidyaratne and Manohari Ramanathan, retired senior government servants.

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