President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday appointed an Advisory Council to the Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, extending the scope of the mandate of the commission. The Advisory Council comprises three legal luminaries. The Right Honourable Sir Desmond de Silva was appointed as the chairman of the council while Sir Geoffrey Nice, and Prof. David Crane are the members.
The Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints Regarding Missing Persons appointed vide Gazette Notification 1823/42 dated 15th August 2013 is mandated to inquire and report on the matters that have been referred in paragraph 4. 359 to in the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The Advisory Council is tasked with advising the Chairman and Members of the Commission of Inquiry, at their request, on matters pertaining to the work of the Commission.
The Commission of Inquiry was appointed to investigate and report on the following specific
i. The principal facts and circumstances that led to the loss of civilian life during the internal armed conflict that ended on the 19th May 2009, and whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regard by reason of a violation or violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law.
ii. Whether such loss of civilian life is capable of constituting collateral damage of a kind that occurs in the prosecution of proportionate attacks against targeted military objectives in armed conflicts and is expressly recognized under the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, and whether such civilian casualties were either the deliberate or unintended consequence of the rules of engagement during the said armed conflict in Sri Lanka.
iii. The adherence to or neglect of the principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality under the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, by the Sri Lankan armed forces.
iv. Whether the LTTE as a non-state actor was subject to international humanitarian law in the conduct of its military operations.
v. The use by the LTTE of civilians as human shields and the extent to which such action constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, and did or may have significantly contributed to the loss of civilian life.
B. The recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE or illegal armed groups affiliated with the LTTE or any political party in violation of international humanitarian law or international human rights law.
C. International criminal activities of the LTTE and the application of financial and other resources obtained through such illegal activeties in the prosecution of the conventional and guerilla war in Sri Lanka by the LTTE.
D. The suicide attacks by LTTE using child soldiers and other combatants under the direct orders of the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran or any persons acting on his behalf, and the culpability for such actions under international humanitarian law or international human rights law.
Sir Desmond de Silva an internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan is a prominent British lawyer, and former United Nations Chief War Crimes Prosecutor in Sierra Leone.
Sir Geoffrey Nice worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the ICTY – between 1998 and 2006.
Prof. David M. Crane an American lawyer was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) from April 2002 until July 15, 2005.
Link to Gazette Extraordinary