Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons President Maxwell Paranagama urged the TNA and members of the Northern Provincial Council to be cautious when making comments on the Commission and await the final report of the Commission before making statements which are inaccurate, misleading and cast doubts in the minds of the innocent Tamil people.
Issuing a release, Paranagama states that the attention of the Commission has been drawn to a news item in the Thinakural newspaper of February 28, 2014, stating that the TNA and members of the Northern Provincial Council made statements to the effect that they do not have the confidence in the Presidential Commission appointed by the President to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons and therefore rejects the Commission. The report was of a special meeting held at the Jaffna Library auditorium.
The release stated: “The Commission regrets to note that such a decision has been taken at a time the Commission has just commenced its work and is in the process of conducting public sittings and initiating investigations. Irrespective of the TNA’s decision to reject the Commission appointed by the President, the response to the public notices that were issued via the print and electronic media in October, November and December 2013, the Commission received a large number of complaints from relatives of missing persons.
If the people in the North and East did not have confidence in the Commission, the response received so far is testimony to the trust and confidence of the people have in the Commission.
“The Commission invited a limited number of persons to give evidence during public sittings in Kilinochchi, Jaffna and Batticaloa. These witnesses were invited based upon complaints received by the Commission in response to the notices issued via the print and electronic media, through the Grama Niladhari, through the Government Agent and public notices posted in the areas where public sittings were to be held.
“Despite the TNA’s and members of the Northern Provincial Council who participated at that meeting taking a decision rejecting the Commission, the Commission will continue to conduct its investigations in good faith and in a transparent manner in implementing the mandate granted to this Commission by the President.
“With regard to allegations that Death Certificates were issued to the relatives of missing persons, the Commission assumes that the reference is to the parallel process that was organised at the Harmony Centre in Kilinochchi on January 20, 2014. The Commission had nothing to do with the parallel process or with the Harmony Centre and it was a matter of co-incidence that the Harmony Centre had organised such an event.
“Nevertheless, the activity of the Commission in hearing oral evidence of the complainants were conducted unhindered and were well represented by the relatives of missing persons. Regarding the question of Death Certificates, the Commission has had discussions with various international organisations experienced in dealing with situations regarding missing persons. The Commission has decided to recommend to the government of Sri Lanka the issuance of a Certificate of Absence which to a certain extent could help families of missing persons to solve some of the issues they are faced with. However, the mere fact of issuing a Certificate of Absence does not mean that the Commission orders the closure of the investigation into a complaint. The Commission will keep all investigations opened pending a final resolution of the matter.
“The Commission would appreciate if any member of the TNA or any representative of the Northern Provincial Council discusses the activities of the Commission and assists the Commission in its efforts to bring relief to the relatives of missing persons rather than taking decisions criticising the Commission.
“The decision taken at the meeting that there is no confidence in the Commission will not be considered as a negative aspect, but as a positive aspect. Thereby, Commission will be strengthened by such decisions in implementing the Mandate given to this Commission by the President.”