Decades of Disappearances Plague Sri Lanka

Although the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was defeated in 2009 after more than two decades of violence and internal conflict, the wounds and scars of those affected haven’t yet healed. There are still more than 100,000 reported cases of forced disappearances that are yet to be investigated by the Sri Lankan government. The Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty while releasing a report on forced disappearances in Sri Lanka, highlighted the need to provide justice to over a hundred thousand families waiting for their loved ones to return.

Irrespective of those who were detained or abducted by both state and non-state actors, Sri Lanka has been using vague terrorism laws like the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), to silent opposition voices and government critics. Salil Shetty said, “There is no community in Sri Lanka that remains untouched by the trauma of enforced disappearance. Most people in the country suffer the absence of a loved one or know someone who does. They have waited years, and in some cases, decades, to learn of the fate of their relatives. Until justice is delivered to these victims, the country cannot begin to heal, let alone move towards a more promising future. Hence, if Sri Lanka truly wishes to progress, it must answer the demands of victims and their families.

Prageeth Eknaligoda was abducted by government forces on 24 January 2010 for raising voice on corruption through cartoons, he never returned. His wife Sandya even went to the UN Human Rights Council, but the process is too slow, while his husband is still detained at an unknown army camp.

The Sri Lankan government has bene trying to restart reconciliation with the youth and human rights activists since October 2015. Although in 2016, Sri Lanka signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, it is yet to be fully implemented and the bill to establish the “Office of Missing Persons” still yet to be debated.



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