In Sri Lanka, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) has urged upon families of disappeared to have trust in the newly set up mechanism and support it. Addressing a public meeting in Trincomalee today, OMP chairperson Saliya Peiris assured the families that the office is a permanent one unlike previous commissions and is preparing to carry out its work with due diligence. His comments came as couple of dozens protested against the meeting while several hundreds boycotted it questioning its legal provisions. However, around eight hundred people registered for the meeting with suggestions on way forward.
The OMP chairman assured the families that their identity would be kept secret for providing any information on disappearances. Several families who attended the meeting, complained one or other of their relatives were picked up by security forces during or in immediate aftermath of the war but never returned. Sri Lanka has around 16 thousand missing persons which is one of the highest in the world. Mr. Peiris said that OMP is in the process of establishing itself and gaining relevant expertise through similar experiments of other countries like Cyprus, Peru and Guatemala. The office came into existence early this year as part of Sri Lankan government commitment to UNHRC for addressing the war crimes.
The OMP chairman accepted that such disappearances are not easy to investigate and it may take decades to reach a conclusion. However, he asserted that families who have lost their near and dear ones years ago are still hopeful and they are not willing to move ahead without proper investigations.