Working group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to visit Sri Lanka

Missing 2Chair-Rapporteur of the UN’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), Ariel Dulitzky and his team will arrive in Sri Lanka on 4 August at the invitation of the government to assist in the local probe mechanism intended to deal with alleged human rights violations during the war.The team will be in Colombo until 12 August.

Dulitszky, an Argentinean, was appointed Chair-Rapporteur in 2010 by the UN body. He is a Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Human Rights Clinic and Director of the Latin American Initiative at the School of Law of the University of Texas in Austin.

At the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 4 August last year, the Report of the Working Group revealed that the number of outstanding cases at the beginning of the Period Under Review was 5,676.

President Maithripala Sirisena told journalists at the special Presidential News Briefing last week that the local mechanism to probe alleged war crimes will be set in motion next month based on the UNHRC mandate on Sri Lanka. The government convinced the UN body that they would begin a credible investigation into alleged human rights violations and postponed the March 2015 review pledging it would be ready with its report in time for the September 2015 review. The President also said that the domestic probe team will accept advice and guidance from the UNHRC Office when the inquiry is conducted.

Ceylon Today learns that the WEIGD will assist and guide the Lankan domestic probe initiative during their visit and continue to support it until the report is finalized. By resolution 20 (XXXVI) of 29 February 1980, the Commission on Human Rights decided to ‘establish for a period of one year, a working group consisting of five of its members, to serve as experts in their individual capacities, to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons’. The last resolution renewing the mandate of the Working Group, A/HRC/RES/27/1, was adopted by the UNHRC in September 2014.

The group will meet representatives of the government, civil society and family members of disappeared persons.

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) on Sri Lanka last week submitted that 110 persons had surrendered to government forces during the final stages of the war in 2009.The ITJP has urged the UNHRC to brief Sri Lanka on probing those cases too. The group works closely with the UN body and has asked Sri Lanka to establish an independent and genuine inquiry. The UNHRC considers the ITJP’s report on Sri Lanka as being authentic. The ITJP has also said that the appointment of General Jagath Dias as the Army Chief of Staff ‘does not send out a good message for the accountability issue’. (Ceylon Today)

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