Press Trust of india

Lanka missing persons office under fire from oppn party

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Colombo, Mar 4: Sri Lanka’s office of missing persons has come under fire from the nationalist party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, alleging that some of its members have campaigned in favour of 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.

“This is nothing but a mechanism to try war heroes (soldiers who defeated the LTTE),” Udaya Gammanpila, a leading Joint Opposition supporter said today.

He said that President Maithripala Sirisena who pledged not to go ahead with the OMP had buckled under pressure from the West and the UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al Hussein.

Last week, Sirisena appointed seven members to a special office set up for determining the status of all persons who went “missing” during the decade-long civil war against the LTTE.

Under the Chairmanship of Saliya Peiris, a leading legal luminary, the Commissioners comprise of two members from the Tamil minority and a Muslim.

“Look at their names, they are all characters from the dubious non-governmental organisations who have never raised their voices against the LTTE terrorism,” Sarath Weerasekera, a  former legislator said.

“Some of them have campaigned for the LTTE against the state,” Weerasekera added.

The OMP is expected to bring solace to the tens of thousands of relative of the missing due to armed conflicts both in the south and the north of the country.

The government legislator Ajith Mannapperuma rubbished the accusation that OMP would lead to persecuting the members of the military.

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 LTTE ended in 2009.

The OMP law which was passed in August 2016 will now become operational with the appointment of commissioners for a three-year term.

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, the government said.

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