Image: A relative of a disappeared writing on the memorial wall at OMP on 30 Aug 2019. © Sunanda Deshapriya.
UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka- Statement on the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
“No-one has been forgotten”
Today we stand up for the rights of the victims of enforced disappearances and their relatives.
In 2010 the UN General Assembly declared that the date of 30 August would be observed as International Day of Enforced Disappearances. Enforced Disappearances are heinous crimes and the UN marks on this date its solidarity with victims and to express deep concern about the continuation of enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, as well as harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared.
Sri Lanka also has a long history of disappearances. This is evidenced by the numerous national commissions of inquiry which have looked into such allegations over many decades, as well as by UN reports. Today we are reminded of all the families, across the country, that are still looking for answers to the whereabouts and fate of their disappeared loved-ones and accountability for the perpetrators of these crimes.
Therefore, the UN was encouraged by Sri Lanka’s ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2016 and particularly by the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons in 2017.
The Office of Missing Persons has a colossal task ahead. It will need the full support of all relevant State authorities in order to fulfill its very challenging mandate. Only with long term sustained efforts it could provide answers and relief to the suffering of many thousands, and thus contribute, along with other institutions, to the commitments of the Government to advance the right to truth, serve justice, provide reparations and guarantee that no such crimes will occur in the future. The UN stands ready to continue supporting the government of Sri Lanka in the fulfilment of this commitment.
UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer