Press Trust of india

Office on missing persons in Lanka becomes operational

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Colombo, Mar 13 : Sri Lanka today operationalised the Office on Missing Persons, an 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 Office on Missing Persons has officially got underway,” an official release said.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed seven members and the Chairperson of the OMP on February 28.

“The main purpose of the OMP is to address the suffering of thousands of families living in all parts of the country whose loved ones have gone missing or disappeared during multiple conflicts in Sri Lanka,” the release said.

The OMP will search and trace missing persons, clarify the circumstances in which they have gone missing and their fate, make recommendations towards addressing incidents of missing persons, protect the rights and interests of missing persons among others.

It will also make recommendations to the authorities concerned to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

The OMP said its seven members represented a cross-section of society, having experience in the field of human rights as activists, public servants and professionals.

“We are deeply committed to the welfare of all the victims of Sri Lanka’s conflicts and we are conscious of the duties entrusted to us by Parliament. We are also mindful of the need to perform our functions impartially and objectively. Moreover, our obligations to the disappeared, the missing and their families are paramount in this endeavour,” it said.

The office is the result of UN Human Rights Council resolutions passed against Sri Lanka, as allegations remain that the government and military committed major human rights abuses as it brought to an end a protracted civil war.

The OMP came under fire from the nationalists and the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa backed opposition, which alleged it a betrayal of the troops which fought the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the civil war.

According to an estimate, around 20,000 people are believed to be missing after the end of the war, which killed over 100,000.

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