From Our Member Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka – Recognizing the Struggle: State’s responsibility towards the Families of the Missing in Sri Lanka
17 March 2016 3:48 pm

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Sri Lanka has a long history of enforced disappearances dating back to the 1970s yet no legislation has been put in place criminalizing the act or towards protecting the rights of the families of the disappeared. No Commission has been successful in providing the answers the families have been looking for. Almost all of them have highlighted the need for recognizing the special vulnerabilities of the Families of the Disappeared and have recommended financial and psycho-social support. Be that as it may, to date no clear policy has been adopted to address the numerous grievances faced by the families.

Despite Cabinet approval for the issuance of ”Certificate of Absentee” to register a Missing person necessary legislation is yet to be passed to facilitate the issuance of such so that the families can proceed to access basic entitlements and services. Assurances were made to criminalize enforced disappearances, ratify the International convention for the protection of all persons from Enforced Disappearances despite this no progress has been made towards its execution. Given the history of failed commissions it is doubtful whether the proposed office for Missing Persons to be set up by Statute whatever its form maybe which has great potential to address their grievances will accomplish the needs.

In this backdrop the Law and Society Trust (LST) – a long time FORUM-ASIA member – invites you to be part of a forum titled “Recognizing the Struggle: State’s responsibility towards the Families of the Missing” – which will take place on Friday 18 March 2016 in Colombo Sri Lanka – aimed at urging the State to provide interim relief measures to the families during this period of transition. LST believes this to be crucial at this time and hour considering their special vulnerability consequent to the loss of a loved one, prolonged delay of the Government of Sri Lanka in responding to their needs, the time consuming nature of the transitional justice process as well as in their imminent participation in the process.

At this forum LST hopes to coordinate efforts to urge various stakeholders engaged in providing services to the Families of the Disappeared and to ensure that various structures and mechanisms that are put in place conform to international standards.

LST hopes this step in coordinating the efforts of various stakeholders (victim groups, civil society organisations, INGOs, Government officials, Diplomats, and media) is a step in the right direction towards addressing the collective and individual grievances faced by the communities and thereby place trust and confidence between communities, existent structures, and mechanisms and pave way for meaningful participation in the transitional justice process and thereby achieve reconciliation.

For more information or to register, please click here.