UN Human Rights Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is pressuring the Sri Lankan government over the fate of hundreds of detained and thousands of missing Tamils.
During high level discussions, Al Hussein has paid special focus over the fate of the some 4000 Tamil civilians who went missing during the war, Tamil prisoners who are detained without formal charges, as well as the release of land back to the civilians which is still under military control. Some 300 Tamil political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act continue to languish in jails, with no formal charges.
Speaking to reporters soon after his meeting with the Northern Province Governor H.M.G.S. Palihakkara on Sunday, the UN Human Rights Chief said, “the discussions focused on the challenges the province faces as well as plans and achievements in connection with this region. We are seeking more information in terms of those detained and those missing,” he said.
Al Hussein added that these issues, along with the issue of land will be taken up during his discussions with the highest officials of the State. Al Hussein will wrap up his four day tour after meeting President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Meanwhile, during a meeting with Al Hussein, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, has impressed upon the need to determine the fate of the missing Tamil civilians, who have been missing for years. Wigneswaran had also handed over a list containing the names of several thousand Tamils who had gone missing.
During his tour to Jaffna, the UN Human Rights Commissioner had also met relatives of those who went missing during the war. Subsequent to his visit to the North, Al Hussein travelled to Trincomalee where he met with the Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed and the Governor of the Eastern Province Austin Fernando.
On Monday, he visited Kandy, where he paid a courtesy call on the Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters, and upon his return to Colombo, Al Hussein met with Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi, in the presence of Chief of Defence Staff, Commanders of the Army and Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Navy. (By Munza Mushtaq © CT)