Foreign experts did not attend public hearings
BY KELUM BANDARA
Oct 2, 2014

The three-member panel of foreign experts appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to advise the Commission on Missing Persons has not participated in the public hearings held during the past four days at the Pooneryn Divisional Secretariat Office, the Daily Mirror learns. They had also not attended the public hearings held in Mannar.

The three panelists -- Sir Desmond de Silva, QC (Chairman), Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Prof. David Crane Ė are known to be experts on war crimes investigations and were appointed by President Rajapaksa on July 15. Retired High Court Judge Maxwel Paranagama, who is the Chairman of the Missing Personsí Commission, said the foreign experts though permitted to participate in the public sittings as observers and were free to advise and instruct the Commission had no mandate to interfere in the public sittings or investigations.

Commenting on the fourday public sittings held at the Divisional Secretariat at Pooneryn on September 27, 28, 29 and 30, the Commissionís Secretary H.W. Gunadasa said complaints were recorded from 263 people while also recording 114 new complaints.

The Committee has so far received 19,284 complaints from members of the families of missing persons and 5,600 of them were from the families of armed forcesí personnel. The Commission has processed nearly 1,000 cases by now while Mr. Paranagama is of the view that it will take several years to hold public hearings on all the complaints.

The Commission will inquire and report on the incidences of war crimes if any, who is responsible for the crimes, whether there was sufficient evidence to take legal action against those who had violated human rights and International Humanitarian Law and recommend steps that should be taken to prevent a repetition and provide relief to victims of war crimes.

The Missing Personsí Commission will also ascertain whether the 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 during armed conflicts expressly recognized under the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law or whether such civilian casualties were either the deliberate or unintended consequence of the rules of engagement during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.

The Commission held public hearings at the Kattankudi Divisional Secretariat on June 6 and 7 and at the Manmunaipattu Divisional Secretariat on June 8 and 9. In January, February and March this year it held public hearings at Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Mullaitivu.

The Missing Personsí Commission headed by Maxwell Paranagama comprises Priyanthi Suranjana Vidyaratne and Mano Ramanathan.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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