Lankan Parliament approves law to trace missing persons
Sri Lanka’s Parliament on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to set up an office to help find some 65,000 people reported missing during the country’s armed uprisings, including a brutal civil war with the LTTE, and clarify the circumstances under which they disappeared.
The draft bill to establish an Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was passed with amendments in Parliament without a vote. The bill was adopted despite objections raised by the joint opposition which alleged that the bill will betray the military.
The government had earlier said there have been strong requests for providing true information on disappeared or missing persons to their relatives to know their actual fate.
“It will enable such families to reunited, closure with regard to such disappearance, or granted with reparations and other relief and support,” officials were quoted as saying by the Colombo Gazatte.
A proposal made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of National
Policies and Economic Affairs, to establish a independent institution as office on missing persons by a Parliament act, was approved recently by the cabinet.
The Office on Missing Persons will help search for and trace missing persons and submit recommendations to authorities to take measures on missing persons, protect the rights of missing
persons and their relatives, identify channels that missing persons and their relatives can obtain reliefs and inform them the same.
The office will also collate data related to missing persons obtained by Government institutions and other institutions and centralise all available data within its database, the report said. Sri Lanka has one of the largest case-loads of missing persons in the world.
In fact, since 1994 alone, the government commissions have received over 65,000 complaints of missing persons. These include people who went missing during the government’s nearly three-decade-long war with Tamil separatists and a Marxist uprising.
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