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Jaffna abductions probe begins next week

The Presidential Committee to Investigate Disappearances and Abductions will visit Jaffna next week to inquire into the alleged abductions and killings in the North, Construction and Engineering Services Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

Addressing the media yesterday on disappearances and abductions, Senaratne noted that there was a drastic drop in the number of abductions and disappearance since President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the Committee.

"Many abduction and disappearance cases were mostly reported in Colombo and its suburbs and the North and East. Many of these cases have been dealt with successfully in Colombo and the East. We are now moving into the North," he added.

Around 1,138 cases of abductions and disappearance have been reported in various parts of the country, most prominently in Colombo and its suburbs, and in the North and the East. "Since the President formed the Committee most cases were handled successfully leaving only 141 to deal with," the Minister said.

"In many cases, the Security Forces have been accused. But when we launched investigations it was found many of those claimed to have been abducted were actually in hiding for personal reasons and others were playing tricks.

Some have returned home unhurt. There were also many of those deemed abducted who were in fact taken for detention at Boossa without their parents or loved ones being informed," Senaratne said.

He pointed out that the Committee had visited Boossa with top ranking police officers and had an independent discussion where he was able to free 45 detainees, mostly Tamils who were arrested in clearing operations in the Colombo city.

"When we count killings in Jaffna, at least three innocent civilians have been killed by the LTTE per day for personal reasons. Other than that, many have disappeared or been abducted.

Due to the ground situation we had difficulties to investigate those cases in Jaffna. Next week, a team from the Committee together with police personnel and prison officers will visit Jaffna," the Minister said.

He said the situation in Jaffna differed from other areas. Many youths had surrendered to the Human Rights Committees fearing the LTTE in Jaffna and they have been handed over to the police for rehabilitation and these detainees were facing lack of facilities in their cells.

"Our team will take all measures to carry out investigations including on the spot independent investigations with detainees, look into the conditions of the detainees and direct the Security Forces to stem disappearances," he added.

Replying to a question by a journalist whether the Government would allow International Organisations to investigate abduction and disappearances, Senaratne said the Government has no objection to any such probe.

"The Government has always opened doors to the International Organisations. Many international representatives arrived on fact finding missions. They however said abductions are a local issue and can be dealt with the by the local law enforcement apparatus, the Minister remarked.

Deputy Minister of Vocational and Technical Training P. Radha Krishnan said the President appointed a four member committee to investigate the abductions and disappearances and that it was performing successfully to bring the culprits to book.

 

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