Families of the disappeared protest over Office of Missing Persons
Families of the disappeared conducted a protest in Vavuniya on 25 June over the lack of consultation with the victim community when enacting the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) bill.
The protest organised by the Forum for Searching Handed, Kidnapped and Forcibly Disappeared Relatives and the Vavuniya District Citizens Committee, was conducted in the Vavuniya Town with the protesters accusing the Sri Lankan President of continuing to protect people responsible for abduction.
They expressed further concern at the OMP legislation’s failure to address the longstanding issues of inadequate witness protection and win the confidence of the Tamil community. The protesters reiterated calls for a missing persons commission composed of international experts.
The Secretary of the Forum for Searching, Handed, Kidnapped and Forcibly Disappeared Relatives, Mrs P Baleswari, said, “We have emphasised that the OMP offices should be established only after taking into account the recommendations of the affected families in the North-East and also requested that we could specify trustworthy people to be involved in the activities of the office that had the confidence of the victim community.
The rights activist went on to add that the OMP had fail to outline how it would bring justice to the affected families, ensure the safety of witnesses and had only mentioned compensation procedures to the victim families. Ms Baleswari added,
“The office is not talking about how it will bring justice to the affected people, and instead keeps promising us compensations. Moreover there are no safety measures for the new witnesses who are going to record their statements trusting them. We have seen numerous commissions by Sri Lanka. What have they achieved? Who are the murderers? Who are the torturers? Who are the abductors?”