July 17, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has broadened the scope of the mandate of the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons and appointed a three-member international panel of experts to advise the Commission.
The enhanced mandate of the Commission, issued by a Presidential Proclamation and published under Gazette Notification 1871/18 dated July 15, 2014, seeks to, inter alia, inquire into and report on several matters contained under paragraph 4.359 of the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which the Commission has deemed as requiring further inquiry, a government press statement said.
The President has appointed three eminent persons of international repute to serve on an Advisory Council to the Commission of Inquiry.
Sir Desmond de Silva, a prominent British lawyer, and former United Nations Chief War Crimes Prosecutor in Sierra Leone has been appointed as the chairman of the Advisory Council.
Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British barrister and a law professor, who has been involved with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Prof. David Crane, a law professor at Syracuse University in the U.S. are the other two members of the eminent panel.
The Advisory Council will advise the Commission, at their request, and may include other experts appointed by the President as and when necessary.
The three-member Missing Persons Commission, comprising Attorney Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama as Chairman, Mrs. Suranjana Vidyaratne and Mrs. Mano Ramanathan, was appointed in August 2013 by the President.
The Commission has been given the authority to conduct inquiries and investigations into complaints of missing persons, and submit a report to the President. In February of this year, President Rajapaksa extended the mandate of the Commission by six months to August 12, 2014.
Issuing the Gazette notification, the President said he has set in motion a number of initiatives to address the concerns arising from the internal armed conflict and believes that it is in the interest of public welfare to make further inquiries into several other matters specifically and generally referred to in the Report of the LLRC which require further inquiry.
The Parliamentary Select Committee to resolve the national issue, the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation, the programme for Rehabilitation of non-state actors to the conflict, and the National Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Recommendations of the LLRC are some of the initiatives taken by the President.