Human rights activists whilst hailing the proposed Office on Missing Persons draft bill criticized the draft bill for lacking explicit provisions concerning how the information collected would be utilized to mete out justice through a judicial mechanism.

The Association of Families of the Disappeared and the Right to Life – Human Rights Centres explained that they hoped that there would be provisions to provide for the Office on Missing Persons to be interlinked closely with the special Court and justice mechanism.
President of the Association of Families of the Disappeared and the Right to Life – Human Rights Centres, Brito Fernando said that the proposed Act was primarily concerned with fact finding.

Former President and incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has opposed the proposed establishment of the Office as a move to punish war heroes when it was he who initially went to Geneva about the issue of disappearances and gave the civil movement political leadership, he remarked.

He opined that the Office could also help to get to the bottom of the assassinations of politicians such as Ranasinghe Premadasa, Rohana Wijeweera, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and Lakshman Kadirgamar.

“The Geneva Resolution proposed to look at what took place between 2002 and 2011 based on the pillars of truth, justice, reparations, reconciliation, and finally non-recurrence. For whatever the reason the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed to look at matters stemming from before 2002. This is good as there are incidents that have taken place since 1971 such as over 180 persons including pregnant mothers, infants, wives and elderly persons being massacred in Sathurukondan,” he said.

“During the period of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga Presidential Commissions appointed to look into such received about 26,000 complaints and they made 23 recommendations based on the aforementioned pillars and handed over a letter with 600 names of military personnel, civilians, politicians and monks whom they deemed should be held responsible for the disappearances, yet no action was taken even to provide parents of the disappeared with conclusive answers,” Fernando observed. (RLJ)