Remedy for the missing

Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority (REPPIA) was established in 1987, in consequent to the 1983 July riots, by an Act of Parliament No. 29 of 1987. The objective of REPPIA is to assist in the rehabilitation of affected persons through compensation. As provided by law, REPPIA provides financial assistance to affected persons, properties and industries.

REPPIA is mandated to provide compensation to persons affected by conflicts such as wars and/or riots. It has taken a broad range of activities to rehabilitate the persons affected by the conflicts and restore their lives. For instance, REPPIA has implemented various loan schemes for housing, self-employment and cultivation. In addition to the assistance given to the individuals, it has undertaken a few rehabilitation programmes for affected communities.

Though the REPPIA has succeeded in reimbursing conflict affected persons, it is not mandated to provide reparations, which are payments of time, effort and/or money to undo past transgression(s). In addition to a limited mandate vis-à-vis time, the REPPIA is unable to provide reparations because it provides limited forms of remedies; it is vulnerable to political influence; allocated limited funding; has a conventional compensation scheme; and, only recognizes limited types of harms.

Limited mandate vis-à-vis time

The REPPIA is not authorised to provide compensation to the persons affected by conflicts prior to the enactment of the REPPIA Act (1987). Therefore, victims from the JVP insurgencies of 1976 and 1981 cannot be provided with compensation.

Limited forms of remedies available

Reparations are more than compensation. It includes five elements such as restitution, rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and non-recurrence. The REPPIA Act does not empower the REPPIA to facilitate the all five elements of the reparations. For example, the REPPIA is not mandated to facilitate memorialisation. Moreover, the REPPIA cannot provide collective reparations.

Political influence via appointments

REPPIA members are appointed by the Minister. Since the Minister belongs to a certain political party, this may lead to political influence. In fact, authorities at REPPIA indicated that REPPIA has been politically influenced in the past.

Limited funding

It is reported that the REPPIA’s current funding allocation is insufficient to deal with the thousands of pending applications.

Conventional compensation scheme

The REPPIA has a fixed compensation scheme and it does not consider the specific or unique needs of victims. For example, it provides Rs. 100,000 to the next kin of the deceased killed during the war irrespective to the individual’s circumstances.

Recognizes limited types of harms

The REPPIA provides compensation for the death, injury and property damage. It does not, however, provide compensation to the victims of sexual abuse, displaced persons or to the next-of-kin to disappeared persons.

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