Sri Lanka declares 65,000 missing during civil war
A Tamil woman cries as she holds up an image of her family member who disappeared during the civil war with the LTTE at a vigil to commemorate the international day of the disappeared in Colombo Photograph: (Reuters)
The new Sri Lankan government acknowledged on Wednesday for the first time that about 65,000 went missing during its 26-year war with the separatist Tamil Tigers. This is being seen as a further step towards reconciliation.
President Maithripala Sirisena has agreed to address past human rights violations through independent probes and to implement a resolution by the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UN and rights groups have long urged justice for the families of the missing, including the ones allegedly abducted by state-backed groups and paramilitary outfits.
Before losing the 2015 elections, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had firmly opposed any international interference in what he believed was an internal issue.
A specific office will be in charge to independently investigate each case of the thousands of missing cases, mostly belonging to the Tamil ethnic minority.
The government will issue a certificate of absence which will help relatives, allowing them to temporarily manage properties and assets of missing people, to obtain provisional guardianship of their children and apply for government welfare schemes.
Many relatives have been critic, accusing the government of doing almost nothing to find the missing people as promised in the UN resolution.
The government will make an oral representation in Geneva later this month to show its progresses in implementing the resolution.