Amnesty concern over disappearances

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 October 1999, 19:38 GMT]
Amnesty International said today it is concerned for the safety of three Tamil men reportedly arrested by Sinhalese home guards on October 8 this year, who have since "disappeared".

Witnesses report that Seenithamby Sathasivam (42), Somanathan Panchchadcharam (51) and S. Velautham (56) were handed over to security forces personnel, possibly the Army, but the Army denies they are in their custody, the London based human rights group said.

The arrests took place at Sinnawathai, a Tamil border village in the eastern Batticaloa district where the men had been living there with a number of other Tamil families after being displaced from the village of Malayarkaddu following tension between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities in the area.

Amnesty said a Sri Lankan member of parliament has raised concern about the men’s "disappearance" with the government-funded Committee against Undue Harassment and Arrest, which has reportedly asked the Inspector General of Police and the Army Commander to investigate the case.

The United Nations Working Groups on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), which is visiting Sri Lanka this week, recommended, following visits in 1991 and 1992, that the home guards be brought under stricter control, Amnesty noted.

"In the past five or so years, human rights violations by the home guard, although no longer so frequent, continue to be reported from time to time," Amnesty said.

Amnesty is urging that "an independent and impartial investigation into the [missing people’s] whereabouts be undertaken, that the findings be made public and those responsible be brought to justice and that, if [the missing] are in detention, they be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence, or immediately released".


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