The Cabinet of Ministers today approved draft legislation to issue Certificates of Absence, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Issuing a statement, it said the draft legislation which involves an amendment to the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 19 of 2010 will now be gazetted and the process of presentation to Parliament will commence.
“This measure will help tens-of-thousands of Sri Lankans whose family-members and loved ones are missing and who are unable to address practical issues relating to their disappearance,” the statement said.
It said Sri Lanka has one of the largest case-loads of missing persons in the world. Since 1994 alone, the Government Commissions have received over 65,000 complaints of missing persons.
“The suffering of the families of those missing is aggravated as the government does not recognize the status of missing persons. This means that the families of missing persons face many issues including inability or difficulty in facilitation of property transfer and ownership, applying for compensation and accessing frozen assets. Although a number of ad hoc measures have been taken in the past, they have failed to address issues faced by the families of the missing,” it said.
Certificates of Absence have been used in a number of countries where there are high incidences of missing persons. This practice has been considered as an effective interim measure that balances the psychological and practical needs of family members and loved ones without dismissing the need for active investigation into cases of missing persons.