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Sri Lanka: Certificates of Absence for Missing Persons


Parliament was told yesterday that the government intends issuing Certificates of Absence to families of those who have been reported missing irrespective of the causes attributed thereto.

Minister of Home Affairs, Wajira Abeywardena informed Parliament that the government was considering issuing Certificates of Absence for approximately 20,000 persons who have been reported missing.

“We have already received Cabinet approval for this proposal and are now working out a modus to issue such certificates. The Legal Draftsman’s Department will shortly complete the Draft Bill to legalize this step” the Minister said.
Such Certificates of Absence will be issued to families of missing persons. The spouse and/or children can produce the Certificate of Absence and be entitled to obtain pensions and other benefits received by widows of the dead from the Widows and the Orphans Pension Fund. In the event that a missing person returns to his or her family the payment of such pensions and benefits from the Widows and the Orphans Pensions Fund will be discontinued.

The Minister’s statement came in response to a query during a Private Member ‘s motion debate from UNP MP Buddika Pathirana. Pathirana asked that Parliament initiates immediate investigations to ascertain whether the missing persons reported during the war in the last three decades were in fact dead or not and if dead, to only issue death certificates to their next of kin.
By Skandha Gunasekara


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