Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday appointed seven members to a special office set up for determining the status of all persons who went “missing” during the brutal civil war against the LTTE.
The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) aims to bring in reparations to the victims of the nearly three-decade long armed conflict in the country. “The OMP law was passed in August 2016 and will now be operational. The OMP is tasked with determining the status of all missing persons in Sri Lanka and is the first pillar of the transitional justice mechanisms under design and implementation,” a government release said.
The commissioners have been appointed for a three-year period under the chairmanship of leading legal luminary Saliya Peiris. The panel also includes two members from the Tamil minority and one from the Muslim community, it said.
According to the release, the commissioners were selected in an open and competitive process conducted by the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka and were nominated by them for appointment to the President. “The OMP will be an independent body reporting to Sri Lanka’s Parliament and is expected to bring a degree of closure to surviving family members of Sri Lanka’s internal conflicts and will set the stage for sustainable reparations for victims and their families,” it said.
The demand to set up such an office was created by Sri Lanka’s human rights record coming under international focus since the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009.
The 2018 government budget has allocated Rs. 1.3 billion to make the OMP operational, the release said.
Analysts said the relatives of the missing would now be able to obtain death certificates to formalise their legal status.
A government commission appointed in 2013 to probe the disappearances said nearly 25,000 people were reported missing due to various conflicts which includes over 5,000 from the government forces.