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Geneva Conventions of 1949, Common Article 3.

Further protection is provided by the Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions which sets out the minimum standards for treatment of persons deprived of their liberty during a conflict, which include access to relief and communication with relatives. It also details the due process requirements that apply to all persons detained in connection with offenses arising from a conflict, which include being charged without delay, the presumption of innocence, the prohibition on forced confessions, and the right to an adequate defense. Sri Lanka has not signed Protocol II, but many of its provisions are recognized as customary international law and are therefore also applicable. See Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 1125 U.N.TS 609, adopted June 8, 1977, Article 5(2), Article 6.

Sri Lanka ratified the four Geneva Conventions in 1959. The official commentary to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) lists a set of conditions that provide guidance in defining a non-international (internal) armed conflict, foremost among them whether the insurgent party “possesses an organized military force, an authority responsible for its acts, [is] acting within a determinate territory and [is] having means of respecting and ensuring respect for the conventions.” Another important indication of the status of a given conflict is whether the government has deployed its regular armed forces against the insurgency. See International Committee of the Red Cross, Commentary, I Geneva Convention (Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1958), pp. 49-50. In Sri Lanka, the LTTE has an identifiable and organized command structure, is in de-facto control of part of the territory, and Sri Lankan armed forces have been deployed against the insurgency.

Although a nonbinding standard, the Declaration reflects the consensus of the international community against this type of human rights violation and provides authoritative guidance as to the safeguards that must be implemented in order to prevent it.

United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (Convention against Enforced Disappearances), adopted December 18, 1992, G.A. res. 47/133, 47 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 207, U.N. Doc. A/47/49 (1992