Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons needs full state support: UN

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Integration-friendly school program at Hindu College, Colombo.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons needs the full support of state authorities to fulfill its mandate of finding the fate of disappeared people and ensuring accountability for those responsible for their disappearance, a United Nations official said.

“Today we stand up for the rights of the victims of enforced disappearances and their relatives,” UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer said in a statement to mark the International Day of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August.

The UN has said it is encouraged by Sri Lanka’s ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2016 and particularly by the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons in 2017.

“The Office of Missing Persons has a colossal task ahead,” Singer said.

“It will need the full support of all relevant State authorities in order to fulfill its very challenging mandate.

“Only with long term sustained efforts it could provide answers and relief to the suffering of many thousands, and thus contribute, along with other institutions, to the commitments of the Government to advance the right to truth, serve justice, provide reparations and guarantee that no such crimes will occur in the future.”

Singer said the UN stands ready to continue supporting the government of Sri Lanka in the fulfilment of this commitment.

“Sri Lanka also has a long history of disappearances,” Singer said referring to disappearance that took place during three largely youth-led insurgencies in the island’s north ad south since 1970.

“This is evidenced by the numerous national commissions of inquiry which have looked into such allegations over many decades, as well as by UN reports,” Singer said.

“Today we are reminded of all the families, across the country, that are still looking for answers to the whereabouts and fate of their disappeared loved-ones and accountability for the perpetrators of these crimes.”
(COLOMBO, 30 August 2019)