Sunday July 22, 2018

Sri Lanka President sets up office to trace war missing

By Our Political Correspondent

Jul 20, 2017 19:10 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - On Thursday, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena issued a gazette notification setting up the long-awaited office of missing persons in line with a piece of legislation that parliament approved almost a year ago.

“I signed the office of missing persons gazette today,” President Sirisena said on twitter. “This marks another step forward in Sri Lanka’s path to sustained peace.”

Sri Lanka had been under pressure to set up the OMP as part of its commitments to the international community to ensure ethnic reconciliation and reparation for victims of the country’s decades-long ethnic war.

The parliament unanimously approved the bill last year entitled "Office on missing persons (establishment, administration and discharge of functions)", despite members of the so-called "joint opposition" trying to scuttle it.

However, with no majority to defeat the bill, MPs loyal to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa created a rumpus in the assembly forcing its temporary suspension.

When granted time to express their views on the bill, the dissident MPs refused to accept the offer at which stage Speaker Karu Jayasuriya put the bill to a vote and had it passed without any opposition.

The then Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera presented the bill after the cabinet had approved the creation of an office of missing persons (OMP) with wide powers to investigate the disappearance of more than 20,000 people.

The minister said a vast number of cases remain unsolved despite the end of the decades-long Tamil separatist war in May 2009.

The JVP saw the creation of the OMP as essential to ensure non-recurrence and deliver justice to those missing.

The OMP will be asked to recommend compensation and clear the way for next of kin to take legal action against anyone responsible for the disappearance of their loved ones.

The Constitutional Council is now expected to nominate the seven members who will guide the OMP. (COLOMBO, July 20, 2017)


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