As envisioned in Budget 2019 proposals by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the payment of a monthly interim allowance of Rs. 6,000 to families of missing persons including family members of the armed forces and the police missing in action, the Finance Ministry said.
Issuing a statement, the Ministry said that across the island, in addition to heartbreak and trauma, families of missing persons had been undergoing severe economic hardships due to the disappearance of their loved ones, in most cases the breadwinner of the family. The Office of Missing Persons (OMP), in its interim report published in August 2018, had recommended providing interim relief to families of missing persons that had Certificates of Absence. Budget 2019 incorporated these recommendations.
The Cabinet recently approved a joint memorandum from the Finance Minister and National Integration, Official Languages, Social Progress and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister to provide interim relief as envisioned in the budget.
The interim relief is of Rs.6000 monthly bank deposit to the recipient of a certificate of absence. It will be provided until the newly-established Office of Reparations provides compensation and other forms of reparation. Interim relief will also not be a waiver of the right to adequate, prompt and effective reparations to seek judicial remedies.
So far, 656 certificates of absence have been issued to families of missing persons in both the North and the South, some of whom include families of armed forces personnel who are missing in action. In order to facilitate the speedy issuance of certificates of absence, the Cabinet also approved the recruitment of additional officers to the Registrar General’s Department on a contract basis.