COLOMBO, June 20 (PTI): The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday appealed for details of people who went missing during the country’s three-decade civil war after a list of such persons was published by an international rights group.
Last month, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) listed about 280 names of enforced disappearances which included at least 29 children.
ITJP called it the largest single group of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka’s history with hundreds of people disappearing at the same time and place with multiple eye witnesses both inside and outside the country.
The number has since been increased to 351 and all of them have been described as those “who are alleged to have disappeared while in the custody of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in May 2009″ when the civil war ended with the defeat of the LTTE militant group.
The foreign ministry said the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) is the permanent and independent entity in Sri Lanka that is vested with the tasks of searching and tracing of missing persons and clarifying the circumstances in which such persons went missing, and their fate, making recommendations to relevant authorities towards reducing the incidents of missing persons, protecting the rights and interests of missing persons and their relatives, and identifying proper avenues of redress to which such missing people or their relatives may have recourse.
Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges and encourages anyone in Sri Lanka or overseas to kindly share with the Office on Missing Persons,” it said.
The OMP became operational in May and have toured the former conflict zones in the north and east to meet with relatives of the missing.
The OMP was one of the institutions which the UN Human Rights Council recommended to be set up through three successive resolutions which urged for independent international mechanisms to probe alleged human rights abuses blamed on both Sri Lankan government troops and the LTTE.
The opposition has accused the OMP of targeting security forces who had fought the LTTE during the brutal separatist conflict.