Sri Lanka is to operationalise the much awaited Office of Missing Persons (OMP) during the first quarter of next year, Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM), Mano Tittawela said. Accordingly, this will be the first transitional mechanism and will be fully operational. This statement was made last week when Sri Lanka shared its peace building experience with the United Nations Peace building Commission in New York. “The Constitutional Council will begin interviewing suitable candidates for OMP commissioners very soon.

A budget and organizational framework are already in place and we are working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), among other international entities to provide training and expertise to the OMP to help it become operational to the highest professional standards,” Tittawela said. He further stated that the Draft legislation for a Truth Seeking Commission was also complete and under discussion and consultation with experts before being presented to the Cabinet of Ministers.

“The civil society led drafting committee drew upon international best practices, while ensuring that the TSC model tailored to the unique Sri Lankan context while also drawing from recommendations made by the Consultation Task Force.” Tittawela also admitted that the process for transitional justice was progressing quite slow. “We often feel that we are going too slow on transitional justice, indeed UN Special Rapporteur Mr. Pablo de Greiff, told us as much last month, but we are going to get there and we will need your continued help and partnership on this journey,” he said. “Having now studied other transitional justice experiences in post-conflict settings, we know how complex and difficult such processes are, and we are aware that no country has operationalized four mechanisms in a two-year time frame.

Perhaps our original time-frames were too ambitious but our objectives, and our commitment, remain unchanged, and our determination is strong and firm because we fully realize the importance of these processes for sustainable peace and reconciliation in our country, without which economic progress cannot be achieved in a meaningful manner” Tittawela added.