While assuring that the OMP would address cases of missing persons irrespective of their ethnicity, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Chairman Saliya Pieris PC today said the Commission would trace the missing and make recommendation to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
In a statement, he said the OMP was mandated with four key tasks which include tracing the missing and disappeared persons, clarifying the circumstances in which the act took place and protecting the rights and interests of those missing/disappeared and their next of kin.
“The OMP will also identify avenues of redress for those affected and make recommendations to the relevant authorities in order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” he said.
He said given the magnitude of the problem and the complexity with respect to the multiple tasks required to search for the missing and the disappeared, the OMP will function as a permanent office, as legislated.
“It will be the task of the present members to establish a credible, efficient and strong institution, which over a period of time will be able to provide relief to the many affected persons and communities,” he said.
He assured the OMP will address the many cases of missing and disappeared persons irrespective of ethnicity, religion and region.
“The main purpose of the OMP is to address the suffering of the many thousands of families living in all parts of the country whose loved ones have gone missing or disappeared during multiple conflicts,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the missing and disappeared cases that the OMP will examine cover both civilians and combatants.
“We are deeply committed to the welfare of all the victims of Sri Lanka's conflicts. We are also mindful of the need to perform our functions impartially and objectively. Victim-centeredness will set a guiding principle for the operationalization of the OMP. We recognize that the establishment of such a mechanism is long overdue,” Chairman Pieris said.
He added the families of the disappeared and of the missing have suffered the tragic loss of their loved ones and many of these families have waited years for answers as to whether their loved ones are alive or dead.
“This long wait has deepened their anguish, frustration and trauma. In what we hope is a shared vision for lasting peace and co-existence, we invite the people of Sri Lanka to provide us the strength and support required to achieve the objectives of the OMP Act,” he said.(Lahiru Pothmulla)