SRI LANKA: Over 30,000 disappearances remain unresolved


Urgent Appeal Case: UA000321
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances and abductions,

The United Nations Human Rights Commission is currently having its annual meeting in Geneva. AHRC believes that this is an opportune time to insist that the UN establish an International Tribunal to investigate and bring to trial the perpetrators of the forced disappearances in Sri Lanka.


Even by official Sri Lankan government figures, over 30,000 people have \”disappeared\” – unofficial estimates put the figure at around 60,000. This immense human tragedy remains unresolved as the families of the victims despair over the inability of the Sri Lankan government to investigate the cases. The scale of the tragedy puts the investigation and trial out of reach of the government, and must be taken on by the UN, as in the case of the Balkans war crime trials.


AHRC is of the belief that the forced disappearances constitute a Crime against Humanity, and has submitted a Paper outlining the legal arguments for this.


AHRC is also making a verbal presentation at the UNHRC meeting urging the UN to establish an International Tribunal on the disappearances in Sri Lanka.


The case is quite convincing, but it requires your support through the writing of letters to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (with a copy to Mary Robinsn, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights), to add weight to the appeal. There has never been a better time to let the UN know how important you think it is that the forced disappearances in Sri Lanka cannot be forgotten until they are dealt with through proper investigation and through the trial of criminals responsible for the disappearances.





Following is a smaple letter which you may use as a guide to writing your own letter.





Secretary-General Kofi Annan

United Nations Office in Geneva

The Palais des Nations



21st March 2000


Dear Mr. Secretary-General,


I have been deeply concerned for some time about the \”disappearances\” that have occurred in Sri Lanka. I see the war crime trials for the Balkan war, and can’t help but feel sympathy for the people of Sri Lanka, who still have not

seen any proper investigation into their families and friends who have \”disappeared\”. Surely they must not be made to wait any longer for the UN to step in.


These so-called \”disappearances\” are clearly, in reality, extrajudicial killings, and amount to a Crime against Humanity. The scale of the disappearances is so immense – somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000; the fact that we still do not know the exact figures and that no-one has been tried yet over this catastrophe should prick the conscience of the international community, and stir it to immediate action.


The UN obviously needs to set up an International Tribunal to investigate this Crime against Humanity and to conduct trials that bring to account the people responsible for wrecking so many lives. I urge you to establish such a committe with haste, sure in the knowledge that this is the only way to heal

the wounds inflicted on almost every family in Sri Lanka.


yours sincerely,






Kofi Annan

Secretary General

United Nations Room S-3800

New York NY 10017

Fax: 603-2910707



Mary Robinson

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights

Palais des Nations

8-14 avenue de la Paix

CH 1211 Geneva 10


Fax: 41 – 22 – 917 0022 (Hotline – Human Rights)

Fax : (41 22) 9170213





Ms. N. Font de Berlioz

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disapperance

UN Centre for Human Rights

United Nations Office

Palais des Nations

CH-1211, Geneva 10


Fax: (4122) 917 0022



And diplomatic representatives of Indonesia accredited to your country

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA000321
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,