Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for “Disappearances” and Abductions in Sri Lanka

Recurring Nightmare

State Responsibility for “Disappearances” and Abductions in Sri Lanka

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Additional cases documented by Sri Lankan human rights groups
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Map of Sri Lanka

I. Summary

Who Is Responsible?

Who Is Being Targeted?

Unpunished Crimes

The Government’s Response

International Response

Key Recommendations

Note on Methodology

II. Background

The armed conflict

History of “disappearances” in Sri Lanka

III. Legal Framework

Sri Lanka’s obligations under international law

Sri Lankan national law

IV. Perpetrators and Victims


Sri Lankan armed forces

Sri Lankan police

Pro-government armed groups

Karuna group

Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)


V. Patterns of “disappearances” and abductions

Northern Sri Lanka

Eastern Sri Lanka


VI. Fate of the Missing

VII. State Response to the Crisis of “Disappearances”

Failure to investigate and establish accountability

Inadequacy of national mechanisms

Official denials

VIII. Sri Lanka and the International Community

Position of the international community

The government response to the international criticism

The need for a UN human rights monitoring mission

IX. Recommendations

To the government of Sri Lanka

To the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

To donor governments


Appendix I: “Disappearances” and Abductions Documented by Human Rights Watch

Northern Sri Lanka

Western Sri Lanka

Eastern Sri Lanka

Appendix II: Correspondence Between Human Rights Watch and Sri Lankan Institutions - Download PDF file (32 pages, 1.13 Mb)

March 2008 Volume 20, No. 2(C)