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* Presidential Commission probing disappearances in Sri Lanka extends time period of investigation
Wed, Mar 26, 2014, 09:48 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 26, Colombo: The Presidential Commission investigating the alleged disappearances of persons in conflict affected areas has extended the time period of investigations to cover disappearances since the beginning of the conflict in 1983.

The Commission has amended the time period to cover the period from 1983 to 2009. Previously, the time period consisted of the years from 1990 to 2009.

The Commission announced that on a warrant issued under direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a Gazette notification was issued yesterday (March 25) in accordance with provisions under the Commissions of Inquiry Act.

The Secretary of the Commission H.W. Gunadasa welcomed the change of the period of investigation.

"During our visits to Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Batticaloa, we received complaints about activities of other organizations. Since our mandate (was) to investigate incidents that occurred during 1990-2009, we could not accept these complaints," the official said.

Chairman of the Commission attorney Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama said the Commission has already received approximately 16,000 complains so far from all parts of the country in response to the public notices posted in Sinhala, Tamil and English newspapers.

"During our visits, we normally receive 300 to 400 new complaints. There is a good response from the public," Paranagama said.

Of the 16,000 complaints received so far, approximately 9,300 are of civilian disappearances while 4,300 are of disappearances of security personnel.

The three-member Commission, chaired by Paranagama, comprises former Director General of Census and Statistics Priyanthi Suranjana Vidyaratne and former member of the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka Manohari Ramanathan. Both Paranagama and Ramanathan were members of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The Commission has been given the authority to conduct inquiries and investigations necessary, and submit a report to the President.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently extended the mandate issued to the Commission by another six months to August 12, 2014.

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