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Friday, July 12, 2024

Full report: Interim Recommendations of the the Office of Missing Persons

5. Urgent Recommendations

40. A key objective of the OMP is to make recommendations to relevant authorities in order to reduce the number of incidents of missing persons and identify avenues of redress that take into account the best interest of the victims and the families. Specifically, the OMP is empowered to make recommendations with regard to commemorations, reparations, non-recurrence, and legal reform. Furthermore, the Act empowers the OMP to provide or facilitate the provision of interim relief and welfare measures to families of missing and disappeared persons.

41. The current socio-economic situation of many families of the missing and the disappeared is dire and cannot wait until a final reparations scheme is devised. In the interim, a key set of measures is required to provide urgent and immediate relief to the families.

42. In addition, there is an overwhelming demand and need for investigation and prosecution of enforced disappearances. These are not merely crimes of the past but are of a continuing nature until the fate of the missing or their whereabouts are clarified. Therefore, it is urgent for the State to ensure an adequate legal framework and empower relevant state actors to discharge their functions to ensure prompt and effective investigations and prosecutions.

5.1. Interim Relief Proposals

43. The OMP wishes to draw attention to the distinction between relief and reparations. Relief is the immediate assistance provided to the affected to relieve them of the economic, social and other burdens they have suffered, whilst Reparations cover measures to address the rights that have been violated and where the State is obliged to repair the consequences of the violations.

44. The acceptance of relief measures cannot be regarded as a waiver of the right to adequate, prompt and effective reparation for the damage caused and the right to seek judicial remedies for accountability. Previous efforts at compensation have created distrust amongst victims and in turn have created doubt over the State’s willingness to provide truth and justice.

45. The OMP makes the following recommendations to the Government for immediate policy formulation and implementation by way of interim relief:

a) Financial aid programme: Implementation of a financial aid programme to provide a monthly living allowance of Rs. 6,000 to the surviving spouse, child/children and/or surviving parent/s of a missing/disappeared person, who has no permanent income. This will be adopted as an interim measure and will cease when final reparations are provided.

b) Debt relief programme: Inclusion of the families of the missing or disappeared as a separate priority category in (a) the debt relief programme aimed at writing off debt (example microfinance loans) valued at or below an amount determined by the Ministry of Finance, or (b) financial aid programmes and loan schemes such as ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ of the Ministry of Finance, aimed at achieving economic stability and self-reliance.

c) Housing development programme: Facilitation of families of the missing or disappeared to be a separate priority category within the existing housing programmes of the Ministry of Housing; implementation of new housing programmes for the construction of permanent houses; or providing financial assistance for the completion of partially built houses.

d) Educational support programme: Introduction of a scholarship scheme under the Ministry of Education for the children of the missing or disappeared in the form of a monthly allowance of Rs. 2,000 to cover essential educational expenses required for the completion of their primary and secondary education.

e) Vocational training and livelihood development programmes: Introduction of technical training personal development courses with provision for on-the-job training.

f) Employment quota: Introduction of an employment quota of 1% within the state sector in order to facilitate family members of the missing/disappeared who have requisite skills, when vacancies in the public and semi-governmental sectors are being filled.

46. These proposals shall be applicable to families of missing and disappeared persons as defined under the Office on Missing Persons Act, including those missing consequent to the war, insurrections or are missing in action, and those forcibly disappeared.29 The proposals should focus on providing relief to the most vulnerable, including those who are in situations of poverty, single-headed households, and those with vulnerability levels based on the presence of children, caring for persons with disabilities or having disabilities themselves, special care for elderly persons, and victims of sexual violence.

5.2. Justice Related Recommendations

47. In recognition of the urgent need for justice and accountability, the OMP recommends the judicious adoption of the following measures to ensure prompt and effective investigation and prosecution of enforced disappearances as well as their non-recurrence:

Read full report of recommendations t as a PDF:OMP Report and Recommendation- English Final Version


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