Sri Lankan authorities were yet to account for several persons taken into custody at the end of the civil war in May, 2009, a leading human rights group has said.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the government ``should account for everyone who was taken into custody at the end of Sri Lanka's 26-year-long armed conflict in May 2009 and are feared to have been `disappeared’.’’
It added that despite numerous requests from families for information about their relatives, the authorities do not appear to have conducted any serious investigations.
The group appealed to the United Nations to add unresolved disappearances to the mandate of the three-member expert panel instituted by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to advise on alleged human rights violations during the civil war.
``…unresolved enforced disappearances should be part of the mandate of a proposed United Nations investigation into laws-of-war violations by both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),’’ HRW said in a statement.
"The Sri Lankan government needs to respond to all allegations of disappearances with more than a ritual blanket denial," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Family members of the disappeared have the right to know if their loved ones are alive or dead."
After the war, 11,600 suspected LTTE cadres were taken into custody by the military.
Under international law, an enforced disappearance occurs when the authorities take an individual into custody but refuse to acknowledge doing so or do not provide information about the person's whereabouts or fate. Among the rights an enforced disappearance may violate are those to life, liberty, and security of the person, including protection from torture and other ill-treatment.
The Sri Lankan military, however, denied the new allegations levelled by the rights body.
“All those taken into custody have been accounted for and their relatives have been notified and given access to see these persons. Therefore there is no truth in these allegations by Human Rights Watch,” military spokesperson Maj. Gen Ubaya Madawela told the Daily Mirror.