Death Certificates For Missing People
By Dinouk Colombage
Families in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi have been provided with death certificates for their missing relatives without a proper inquiry being conducted, TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said.
Premachandran alleged that two weeks ago over 30 families, all of whom had reported relatives as missing, were called to the Mullaitivu police station by the army. It was there that they were questioned about the personal details of their missing relatives before being handed a form to sign. “Once this form was signed they were given a death certificate, most of the families signed but some refused asking for a proper inquiry to be held”, he said.
Premachandran explained that these families had been told their relations were killed during the war, “some of the families refused to accept this explanation saying that they knew of their relatives being arrested by the security forces during the conflict.”
He went on to further question why the army was involved in this, “if they were notifying the civilians about the death of their relatives the army is not necessary.
Instead the police should be carrying out inquiries into these deaths without ignoring it by issuing death certificates.” Premachandran also said that he was aware of other such incidences reported in Kilinochchi last week as well.
Army spokesperson, Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya, however explained that he was not aware of this particular case but added that the military does assist the police and the divisional secretariat in such matters.
“In those areas communication is difficult, the police do not have the manpower to individually notify families, so they request our Civil Affairs officer to do so”, he said.
M. Jayawickrama of the Registrar General’s Department explained that in 2010 a temporary provision was gazetted which allowed the Divisional Secretariat to issue death certificates to families who requested them.
“Many families after the war, or even natural disasters, could not produce bodies to be issued with death certificates. This caused problems for those families when it came to the issue of land ownership. Now in the North families whose relations are missing can request a death certificate, of course some form of evidence is required”, he explained. Jayawickrama added that he was not sure of the events in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi, but added that it was most likely this which was happening. Earlier this week the Ministry of Defence had issued a statement denying reports that from October 2011 to March 2012 there have been 56 reported disappearances.
In their statement the Ministry of Defence claimed that the actual figure of disappearances is much lower and that only 18 people have actually been reported missing while a further 17 cases have been found to be false. Those who have been reported missing, according to the Ministry of Defence, are in fact criminals connected with the underworld.