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President signs OMP ACT

Not confined only to those affected by war:

Another step in path to sustained peace:

President Maithiripala Sirisena yesterday signed the Office of the Missing persons Act. The Act was unanimously approved in August 2016, awaiting executive sanction which was granted yesterday.

Parliament passed the Act titled “Office of the Mission Persons Act No. 14 of 2016” for which the objectives include “to provide for the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons; to provide for the searching and tracing of Missing Persons; to provide assistance to relatives of Missing Persons; for the setting up of a database of Missing Persons; for setting out the procedures and guidelines applicable to the powers and functions assigned to the said office; and to provide for all matters which are connected with or incidental to, the implementation of the provisions of this Act”.

President Sirisena tweeted the signing of the Act last evening saying “I signed the Office of Missing Persons Gazette today”.

This marks another step forward in Sri Lanka’s path to sustained peace.”

Addressing a Press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the office would not be confined to those who were affected during the war.

“People in Lanka think we have sold the country and people abroad think we have done nothing. There are a lot of things we have done,” he said before going onto explain efforts of the government during the past three years.

“Transitional Justice has four mechanisms, and among those is the Office of the Missing Persons. This doesn’t only look at the period of civil disobedience, it also looks into the Sinhala insurrections in 71 and the JVP insurrection is also in that. But nobody talks of that” he said.

Karunanayake said that the Act will now follow the “normal” process.

The normal process will follow with the Constitutional Council nominating people and the President will then decide who the Chairman should be”.

Speaking at the Conference, Karunanayake also insisted that UN Special Rappateour on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism had made “irrelevant” statements.

“We have brought these issues up and hope the UN will make amends. They are only rappaterous who come and give a report and not a part of the UN” he said.

Earlier, Emerson speaking at a Press Conference at the United Nations compound in Colombo made critical remarks on the reconciliation process and mechanism.

Karunanayake further said that Accountability would not originate judicial action.

“Accountability is a different one, which I don’t want o bring at this moment, because I am ill equipped to answer it. It certainly is a very dexterous area and that is not an issue which is binding. All the others are only review process; they are nothing which originates judicial action,” he said.

December 10, 2015: Sri Lanka signs International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

May 24, 2016: The Cabinet of Ministers approves the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons, to help the thousands of families of missing persons across Sri Lanka discover the fate of their loved ones.

August 11, 2016: Parliament passes a bill to create the Office of Missing Persons, after briefly suspending sittings because of a frenzy of floor demonstrations by members of the Joint Opposition.

July 20, 2017: President Sirisena brings the act into effect.