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The National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2011 – 2016 as well as the full series of  Sri Lanka Rights Watch are available at the Peace & Reconciliation Website.

I looked last week at the provisions in the LLRC Action Plan for dealing with questions about disappearances, and noted the importance of the recommendation regarding greater transparency and precision as to the actual facts. This is also important regarding detainees, where much confusion has resulted from conflation of two separate issues.

I should note that there is also a third, which is even more serious now, given that we have dealt quite effectively with the first two issues. I refer to those who have nothing to do with the conflict, but should definitely be considered under the Action Plan recommendation to create ‘a special mechanism to examine cases of persons being held in detention (for long periods without charges)’. The recent visit to the Prisons that we undertook with the Human Rights Commission brought home to us graphically what statistics had already indicated, that large numbers are held in remand with no prospect of their cases being heard. At Welikada itself there are over 1000 remandees, some of whom have been in remand for years, while the State continues to ponder as to whether charges can be brought.

I had been astonished at the failure in coordination that sometimes led to this situation. At the consultations the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies persuaded me to commence at the Reconciliation Office even before I was appointed to convene the Task Force on the Human Rights Action Plan, I found the Government Analyst’s Department for instance, which participated actively and helpfully, noting that sometimes reports they sent in were lost, and sometimes they travelled miles for cases only to be told that the prosecution was not ready.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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