The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) highlighted that no draft of a law criminalizing enforced disappearances has yet been presented to the Parliament.
Director of Policy and Programmes at the AHRC and the Asian Legal Resource Centre, Basil Fernando said that if the Government wants to strengthen the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), it could pass the law Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera promised the United Nation Human Rights Council in 2015 June.
Together with such a law, a special unit of the CID should be instituted and given the task of investigating into the alleged cases of enforced disappearances and given adequate personnel and resources, he added.
Commenting on the Government’s proposed move to establish an Office of Missing Persons, he noted that looking for murderers is not the work of a fact-finding office, which is what the proposed ‘Office of Missing Persons’ is.
There is nothing that the proposed Office of Missing Persons can do about it, except to include their observations in the proposed database and while it is a good thing to have a database (albeit an additional one) for missing persons, including those assumed to have been killed and whose bodies have been disposed of, criminal justice cannot be relegated solely to a database, he remarked.
As for soldiers who are missing in action, it is for their units to account for what happened to them and to inform their families and if there is a failure to do this, it should be looked
into under the relevant laws and regulations of the armed forces, Fernando observed.
Sri Lanka signed and ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), yet due to the dualist legal system in practice, has yet to pass a piece of legislation making the ICPPED enforceable domestically.