Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

UN expert group urges Sri Lanka to seize

the moment to fulfil the rights of the

families of the disappeared

COLOMBO / GENEVA (18 November 2015) Sri Lanka has the opportunity
to once and for all meet the rights and legitimate expectations of thousands
of families of disappeared, a delegation of the United Nations Working
Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said today. Families
have waited too long - the time for action has come.
The widespread use of enforced disappearances for many decades has left
profound wounds in the society and a deep sense of mistrust among the
relatives, stressed the Groups Vice-Chair Bernard Duhaime, Tae-Ung Baik,
and Ariel Dulitzky at the end of an official visit* to the country.
The experts noted an almost complete lack of accountability and decisive
and sustained efforts to search for the truth in particular the
determination of the fate or whereabouts of those who disappeared - as

well as the absence of a comprehensive and effective reparation program

and social, psychological and economic support for the relatives.
We welcome, however, the commitments made by the new Government of
Sri Lanka to embark on comprehensive measures to ensure truth, justice
and reparation for victims, as well as prevent any recurrence of
disappearances in the future, they indicated.
Finally there is a positive environment to seriously address these issues,
the experts said. We note encouraging steps such as the official invitation
for the Working Group to visit the country, the excellent cooperation
received during the visit and the Governments increasing openness. The
Working Group also highlighted the commitments expressed by various
authorities they met, including to establish a dedicated Office for Missing
Persons and to carry out broad consultations on future measures to be
These promises and commitments must now be followed by concrete
efforts and tangible results, they emphasized. This is the only way to
regain the trust of victims for past failures to address their rights. The
Government will need to adopt bold steps to reach out to and create
confidence in the victims.
Sri Lanka must seize this historic opportunity and adopt urgent and
profound measures to satisfy the rights of the victims as a fundamental
step which will help lay the ground for a sincere reconciliation process,
they said. Reconciliation, however - while extremely necessary in Sri
Lanka - cannot be achieved at the expense of the rights of the victims.

The experts expressed support for the recommendation made by the UN

High Commissioner for Human Rights in his recent Human Rights Council
report to integrate international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and
investigators into the envisaged judicial mechanism aimed at prosecuting
massive human rights and humanitarian law violations - including enforced
The Working Group also supports the establishment of the Office for
Missing Persons dedicated to the humanitarian task of searching for the
thousands of disappeared in the country, stated the experts. The Working
Group noted that this body should act in a non-discriminatory, impartial,
independent and professional manner, adopting a victim-centred approach.
This Office should look at all enforced disappearances, regardless of the
time and place of their occurrence, and regardless of the perpetrator, the
experts said. The same principles should guide the activities of the
proposed Truth Commission.
The design and implementation of all these measures - which should be
parallel and go hand in hand - call for truly inclusive, good faith,
consultative, gender-sensitive and participatory methods, the experts
noted. It is of outmost importance to genuinely include families of
disappeared and the organizations representing them in the consultation
As one first measure, the experts urge the authorities to give clear
instructions at all level of the military, security and law-enforcement forces

that all type of threats, harassment and intimidation towards families

searching for their loved ones must immediately cease, will not be tolerated
and will be severely sanctioned.
Some of the persons with whom we met have been questioned in relation
to our visit. This is absolutely unacceptable in a democratic society, they
said Building trust and confidence among the victims will not be possible
without seriously addressing this crucial issue.
The experts also called for the creation of an adequate legal and
institutional framework to prevent enforced disappearances to occur again
in the future, and ensure its adequate implementation.
Some of these measures can be taken swiftly, among which: the
ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons
from Enforced Disappearance; the introduction of an autonomous crime of
enforced disappearance in the penal code; the repeal of the Prevention of
Terrorism Act - which contains provisions that can facilitate the occurrence
of enforced disappearances; and a thorough and independent investigation
into all allegations of instances of secret detention, noted the experts.
During the ten-day visit, the Working Groups delegation visited - in
addition to Colombo - Batticaloa, Galle, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Matale,
Mullaitivu and Trincomalee. They met with the President, the Prime Minister
and the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as other high-level State
authorities as well as civil society organizations.
We also met with hundreds of relatives of disappeared and missing
throughout the country, hearing many tragic and deeply saddening stories.
The Working Group reaffirms its solidarity with all the victims and their

relatives who come from all communities. Their continued suffering is living
proof that enforced disappearance is a continuous offence and a permanent
violation of their human rights until the fate or whereabouts of the victim is
clarified, the experts concluded.
A final report on the visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council
in September 2016.
(*) Read the Working Groups preliminary
observations: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.as
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is
comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The
Chair-Rapporteur is Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco) and the Vice-Chair
is Mr. Bernard Duhaime (Canada); other members are Mr. Tae-Ung
Baik (Republic of Korea), Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina) and Mr. Henrikas
Mickevicius (Lithuania).
The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human
Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of
disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of
communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to
ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of
clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed
outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Groups
humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of
the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group
continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It
also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United

Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced

Disappearance. Learn more, log on
to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/Disappearances
For more information and media requests: Ugo Cedrangolo
(ucedrangolo@ohchr.org), Gabriela Guzman (gguzman@ohchr.org) or
+94112580691 ext 1500/1502 / info.lk@one.un.org
For your news websites and social media: Key messages about our news
releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed
below. Please tag us using the proper handles
Twitter: UNrightswire
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr

Posted by Thavam