By Zahrah Imtiaz
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday confirmed the appointments of the seven members to the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) which was established in September 2017.
At a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat, the President appointed President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris as Chairman of the Office with six others also being appointed as members to work with him.
The members are: Jayatheepa Punniyamoorthy, Major General Mohanti Antonette Peiris, Dr Sriyani Nimalka Fernando, Mirak Raheem, Sumanasiri Liyanage and Kanapathipillai Venthan.
OMP Chairman Peiris speaking to Daily News said all members would meet next week to decide on their future course of action and how the office would be set up.
The OMP (establishment, administration and discharge of functions) was established through Act No.14 of 2016 and amended by Act No.9 of 2017 and came into effect on September 15.
The Act stipulated that the OMP would, “Provide for the establishment of the office on missing persons; to provide for the searching and tracing of missing persons; to provide assistance to relatives of missing persons; for the setting up of a database of missing persons; for setting out the procedures and guidelines applicable to the powers and functions assigned to the said office; and to provide for all matters which are connected with or incidental to, the implementation of the provisions of this act’.
In December 2017, the Constitutional Council nominated the names of seven persons to the OMP, having selected them from over 100 applications and the 2018 Budget allocated Rs 1.4 billion for the OMP.
The OMP is one of the four big transitional justice mechanisms proposed by the government, o0thers being an office to handle reparations, a truth commission and a judicial mechanism to address allegations of wartime abuses.
According to the last Paranagama Commission appointed to investigate into missing persons; close to 19,000 persons have been confirmed to have gone missing during the three decade war. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has recorded 12,000 cases of enforced disappearances related to the Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna (JVP) uprisings and during the armed conflict between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)and the Sri Lankan government forces from 1980 to 2010.