Missing Probe

August 14, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Wednesday ordered a new investigation into the disappearance of thousands of people in the island’s northeast during an ethnic war which ended four years ago. The announcement comes just days before UN human rights chief Navi Pillay is due to visit the island, amid international criticism of Colombo’s human rights record during the war against Tamil separatists.

President Mahinda Rajapakse appointed a retired judge to head a three-member panel to investigate “cases of persons from the northern and eastern provinces who went missing during the war”, a statement from his office said.

“The president indicated that the inquiries are being conducted in the interest of public security and well-being and in order to determine what measures should be taken to prevent such incidents,” the statement said without giving further details. Sri Lanka has resisted international pressure for an independent investigation into war crimes despite what UN calls “credible allegations” of up to 40,000 civilians killed in the final battles in 2009.

Instead it has conducted a number of its own probes into disappearances and extrajudicial killings during the conflict, whic