Sri Lanka’s Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Tuesday signed the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Bill at the Parliamentary Complex in Colombo, making it a legal act, his office said.
On 11 August, Sri Lanka’s Parliament unanimously approved a bill to set up an office to help find some 65,000 people reported missing during the country’s civil war with the LTTE, and clarify the circumstances under which they disappeared. The draft bill of OMP was passed with amendments in
Parliament without a vote. It was adopted despite objections raised by the joint opposition which alleged that the bill will betray the military.
The joint opposition backing the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa created a rumpus in parliament when the bill was introduced on August 11. The joint opposition MPs said that the legislation was passed violating both the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament. They urged Jayasuriya not to place his signature to the Bill giving it the legal effect. They had called it a betrayal of the security forces who had fought the LTTEs over three decade of separatist campaign. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) on Monday recommended an effective communication strategy in all three languages to reach out to thousands of families of the disappeared to the OMP.
Among the other recommendations were to make available the financial resources needed to build a strong institution and hire competent staff, establishment of regional offices of the IOMP, the OMP membership must reflect the pluralistic nature of the island.
To ensure integrity of the staff that are to be recruited and to provide gender sensitivity training to the staff. Over 20,000 people are said to be missing in the island some of them since the late 1980s.