CHR urges LLRC to ensure free, secure environment in Trincomalee, Mannar

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 November 2010, 06:54 GMT]
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) – Sri Lanka in a statement has requested the LLRC to ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidence without fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions in Trincomalee and Mannaar. Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is to conduct its sittings in Trincomalee on December 17, 18 and 19. The LLRC would record the evidence from relatives of affected persons in the Trincomalee district due to abduction, disappeared in round up by military and killing by security forces between the year 2001 and 2009, LLRC sources said. CHR has issued the statement as a press release Sunday.

The statement signed by the CHR’s Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon follows:

LLRC’s visit to Jaffna is commendable and the sessions they held are a step towards the healing process. Nevertheless certain incidents which occurred in the Kayts Island on November 14, reports of a systematic intimidation campaign to discourage residents from appearing before the LLRC and the threatening of a Jaffna based journalist, makes the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) wonder whether the LLRC took adequate action to ensure an environment where one can give evidence without fear of future persecution.

Overall there was inadequate media attention to the sessions in Jaffna. A look at the news papers show that there was minimal representation Colombo based main stream media, except one, and civil society organizations, except representatives from the US and Norwegian embassy. It is also a well known secret in Jaffna that local journalists do not cover stories in the islands fearing attacks by groups which had a militant past. Nevertheless it was this minimal outside presence that allowed the Uthayan and Yaal Thinakural news paper reporters to cover the sessions in Kayts. Otherwise Thina Murasu, the EPDP news paper would have been the only local news paper to cover the Kayts sessions.

It’s very important that LLRC take necessary actions to prevent a repeat of what took place in Kayts and ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidence without fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions in Trincomalee and Mannaar. In the same time, the Civil Society and the Colombo based media must provide adequate attention and coverage to the LLRC sessions held outside Colombo.


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