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Tuesday, 01 May 2018 03:19

28.04.2018 - Need to Expedite Operationalising of The Office of Missing Persons

The inaction of government due to the ongoing political crisis involving the coalition partners in the national unity government continues to erode public confidence in its problem solving capacities. This concern is especially marked in regard to the transitional justice process. So far only the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), which is one of the four transitional justice mechanisms promised in October 2015 has been established.

The Chairman of the Office of Missing Persons, Saliya Peiris PC, has announced that beginning from May 12, 2018, the OMP will meet the public including family members of the disappeared. He said arrangements had been made to hold public meetings countrywide till early July. He also said they were still in the process of recruiting staff and setting up procedures.

The National Peace Council notes that progress in operationalising the OMP has been slow even though it was constituted by the appointment of commissioners in February this year. The commissioners need to be supported by investigators, report writers and administrative staff. The government needs to take a genuinely victim-centered approach to prioritize these issues that will make a real difference to victim families in the short to medium term. This means expediting procedures that will enable the OMP to become fully operational. Failure to do so would not only frustrate the victims but also the Commissioners who have been appointed to serve in the OMP. War victims are more likely to put their trust in the government if they recognize that a difference is being made in their lives.

NPC is concerned that the continued delay in operationalising the OMP, and establishing the other transitional justice mechanisms, will erode the confidence of war victims, the larger Sri Lankan public and international community in the government’s seriousness of purpose with regard to the transitional justice process. NPC also believes that the bureaucratic impediments to expediting the full functioning of the OMP serves as a learning point for the other envisaged transitional justice mechanisms. This will be particularly relevant to the envisaged Office of Reparations, where the need to provide compensation to victims will always be very urgent.

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.