Missing Persons Commission assures relief to families 



By Harischandra Gunaratna


The Chairman of the Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints on Missing Persons yesterday assured the members of the Dead and Missing Persons Association from the North and the East that it would do everything in its power to solve their problems.


Commission Chairman retired High Court Judge Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama urged the family members of missing and abducted persons to direct their complaints to the Commission without any fear and if they were facing any threats to bring them to its notice and action would be taken against those responsible. 


Paranagama said, "Information regarding missing persons has even been obtained from all hospitals including those in Colombo and if there is any information that a missing person is living overseas it would be conveyed to the External Affairs Ministry to verify from the foreign governments concerned." 


Paranagama assured them that the Commission would help the next of kin of the missing or abducted persons who could not be traced, sort out legal issues pertaining to lands and properties etc.   "We have already received around 10,000 complaints from both civilians in the North and the East and family members of the Security Forces personnel," he said, adding the Commission was quite conscious of the agony and suffering of the family members of the missing and abducted persons and would do its best to bring about a solution to their problems. 


The investigations into the complaints would be carried out by a team consisting of retired police officers, students of criminology at the Sri Jayewardenapura University and some independent persons, Paranagama added.    


A number of family members of missing persons told the commission that they were  facing legal issues in transferring ownership of lands and properties to next of kin since it could not be ascertained whether the missing persons were living or not.       


Over 100 members of the association living in Batticaloa, Vavuniya, and Kilinochchi etc. visited the Commission’s office in Colombo 06 and handed over around 500 complaints. 


They said that they were facing various issues after returning to their villages after fleeing to escape the torture of the LTTE.  "We are seeking assistance from the government to improve our livelihoods as we are forced to start everything from scratch after our villages were destroyed during the civil strife," an affected woman from Kalavanchikudy said. 


Government should pay the families of missing persons more than Rs.  20,000 as compensation as anything less was not adequate since women and children were suffering, she added. 


Another woman said that the contractors charged about Rs. 700,000 to re-build the destroyed houses in the war torn areas and would not complete the job after charging the money. The houses would fall apart after some months due to the poor quality of work, she added.     


Several members of the Association claimed that the Grama Niladharis were not performing their duties and they had to be bribed to get official work done by them  and added that they only helped the affluent. 


Though one woman said the police stations in the East didn’t have policemen who had a working knowledge of Tamil, another countered it by saying that there had been such an issue earlier, but the government had solved the problem to a great extent by posting officers proficient in Tamil to the police stations in the North and the East. 


A mother from Batticlaoa complained that a large number of schoolboys and girls had been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE and they never returned.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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