SRI LANKA: No action on 12,000 complaints registered at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka 

Over 12,000 cases are pending before the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) as there are no ‘commissioners’ to order inquiries into them, according to a report published in Daily Mirror.

According to the Constitution of Sri Lanka the Commissioners must be appointed by the Constitutional Council. However, this is not possible as the government of Sri Lanka has taken the decision not appoint the Constitutional Council as it considered to be undermining the power of the executive president to appoint and dismiss civil servants at will. This decision has made the HRCSL dysfunctional and this situation has been recognised and noted by the United Nations.

More than 5,500 cases remain pending at the Commission in Colombo alone and in the regional offices island wide due to the non-appointment of the Commissioners since April 2009. Added to this, Ms. Chandra Ellawala, an officer of the Commission, has told the Daily Mirror that they have received nearly 7,500 complaints since January 2010.

According to the report, Ms. Ellawala also said that they are currently doing only the preliminary investigations on complaints received by them.

“We can’t make any recommendations without the Commissioners. We are not empowered to issue recommendations. If the case is only fit we complete the inquiries,” she added.

The complaints made to Commission are about torture and abuse of power by the police, involuntary disappearances by military and police, abductions, unfair treatment of minorities, problems of displaced persons and other human rights abuses.

Impeding avenues of complaint making and the subsequent inquiries is, quite blatantly, part of the state policy of guaranteeing impunity to the perpetrators, who, in the vast majority of cases are agents of the state itself.

The dysfunctionalism of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission by the State is nothing less than deliberate. Even if the Commission was to become effect today, how long would it take to cover the backlog of cases? And that of course does not take into account the new cases that are arriving every day of the week.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-186-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,