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News : Good practice

​Commission makes suggestions to strengthen Office of Missing Persons

Graphic: Commissioners hold community discussions in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province

The Commission has published a series of recommendations to ensure that the new body is as effective and as accessible as possible.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has commended the adoption of the Office on Missing Persons Act, while also noting it would have had greater legitimacy with further consultation to incorporate the insights and concerns of affected families.

"We reiterate the importance of ensuring future mechanisms incorporate and reflect the concerns and insights of victims and affected persons, and urge the Government to undertake a transparent and inclusive process to establish these mechanisms," the Commission stated in a new report.

While the text of the Act is not yet available with the amendments, the Commission has restated a number of important elements that must be given serious consideration if the Office on Missing Persons is to be victim-centred and provide redress to families of the disappeared.

Some of the key elements the Commission highlighted include:

  • A public awareness campaign to build understanding and a sense of ownership among the public and, especially, to reach out to families of the disappeared
  • Ensuring adequate financial resources to allow the Office to build a strong institution and hire competent, qualified and committed staff
  • Establishing regional offices to ensure accessibility and foster public ownership of the Office
  • Appointing members to the Office who reflect the pluralistic nature of Sri Lanka, including meaningful gender and regional representation
  • Recruiting staff who are persons of unimpeachable integrity and reflect gender, ethnic, and regional diversity in order to serve different communities in a language they understand
  • Providing staff training on gender sensitivity, as most complainants are women, and on how to deal with victims who have suffered trauma and loss.

The report and recommendations are available on the website of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.

Date: 22 August 2016

Source: Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Image credits

  1. Commissioners hold community discussions in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province - Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka