Government inquiry into civil war enforced disappearances "inconclusive"
by Melani Manel Perera
Human rights NGO in the northeast of the country slams government inaction. The President extends inquiry into the alleged kidnapping took place during the conflict for six more months. People claim the first phase of the investigation was influenced by heavy military presence and lack of interpreters.

Colombo ( AsiaNews) - Human rights activists and local NGOs say the first phase of investigations carried out by the government into the alleged kidnapping and "enforced disappearances" that occurred in the provinces of the north and east between 1990 and 2009, during the Civil War is  "inconclusive". Meanwhile , President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced it on February 21 that he has extended the mandate of the Commission in charge of conducting this investigation for another six months, which will have until August 12, 2014 to collect data and information.

The first phase of the investigation was closed February 17 in the district of Jaffna. Previously, the Presidential Commission also visited Kilinochchi district (19-21 January). So far , the Panel has received 16 thousand complaints nationwide.

Several observers note the timing with which Rajapaksa has decided to extend the mandate of the Presidential Commission. Next March a new round of meetings will be held in Geneva, during which the UN Council for Human Rights is expected to present a third resolution against the Sri Lankan government, accused of alleged crimes against humanity during the thirty years of civil conflict and for failing to implement an effective process of reconciliation with the Tamil community.

The Tamils​​, the second largest ethnic -linguistic group in Sri Lanka, were the most affected by the civil war, which took place mainly in the northeast of the island, where they are the majority .

According to the NGO Law and Society Trust (LST), the way in which the Presidential Commission conducted investigations in the provinces is questionable. In particular, the Human Rights group criticizes the massive police and military presence that "intimidates" people. "It is well known - reads an LST statement - that for years the families of missing persons have received constant threats from members of the police force and army officers". Their presence therefore hindered the collection of evidence.

In addition, the NGO criticizes the fact that the Commission has engaged with the local population using only documents in English, knowing that the official language in the northeast is Tamil ​​and that many people do not know another language. "Those who testified - explains LST - were provided with the assistance of Commission interpreters, but were never given the opportunity to verify the information they provided".

SRI_LANKA_-_Commissione_(F).jpg