Legal Assistance

Mannar mass grave litigation prolonged

Mannar mass grave

On December 20, 2013 construction workers of the National Water Supply and Drainage were digging trenches to lay water pipes adjacent Thiruketheeswaram Temple, Mannar when they discovered skeletal remains which was reported to the Police and then to the MC Mannar.

CHRD represents families in the mass grave litigation pending before the Mannar Magistrate Court. Families are still searching for their disappeared loved ones need to credibly determine who the buried individuals are, whether government security forces, paramilitaries, or the LTTE killed them, whether they were tortured, and how and when they were killed.

To date, the investigation has not met with international best practices. There is no assurance as to the integrity of the 83 skeletons exhumed or that they have been stored in the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital with appropriate chain of custody. It is deeply concerning skeletons were exhumed without first mandating a forensic archaeologist/ anthropologist to determine the age of the grave.

The CID has tried to halt excavations by (i) claiming that the site was an ‘ancient cemetery’; and (ii) telling the court that a well alleged to contain additional skeletons could not be found.

The CID also told the Magistrate Court to send samples for testing in the U.S. However, we must learn lessons from Matale, from which 153 skeletons were exhumed in 2013. The CID sent samples for testing in the U.S., but there was no transparency as to the selection of foreign experts or the chain of custody of the sample sent. As a result, the forensic archaeologist in the Matale case testified that the U.S. lab results were not credible. The same result would occur here: samples should not be sent to a foreign lab without oversight from international experts.

The court ordered CID to discuss with the counsels of the families of the disappeared to finalize the international institutions of forensic experts to send the remains for further analysis to find out the age of the mass grave

CID is in the process of meeting with the counsels of the families of the disappeared of the mass grave in order to finalize the international forensic institution.

CHRD has carried out consultations with the representatives of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation and Peruvian Team of Forensic Anthropology in to move forward in this regard.

Further excavation of newly identified well area is fixed for April, 2016, however it is yet to take place.

Contact Details

No: 3A 1/1, Kinross Avenue,
Sri Lanka.

Telephone: (+94) 11 250 6001
Fax: (+94) 11 250 6002

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