‘Certificates of Absence’ for the war missing

The Sri Lanka Cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft legislation enabling the issuance of Certificates of Absence. Though the Cabinet took a decision in this regard in September, the latest move has sought to provide statutory back-up.

Only a couple of weeks ago, the Cabinet’s nod was given for the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP), a Bill for which was issued in the gazette late last month to attract comments from the public.

The latest move is expected to help tens of thousands of Sri Lankans whose family members and loved ones are missing, according to an official release. Pointing out that Sri Lanka had “one of the largest case-loads” of missing persons in the world, the release mentioned that since 1994, various commissions constituted by the government had received over 65,000 complaints of missing persons.

Explaining the rationale behind the Certificates of Absence, the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based non-government organisation, had said last year that under legal and policy directives in Sri Lanka, families were required to have death certificates to address practical issues such as the facilitation of property transfer and ownership, the ability to formalise new partnerships (remarriage), qualifying for social welfare payments and pensions.

However, since a number of families had refused to accept the death certificates, the Certificates of Absence had been devised, keeping in mind both the family members’ concerns and the need for investigation into cases of disappearances.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 8:40:42 AM |

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