The Australian Tamil Congress calls upon the UNHRC and the International Community to impress on Sri Lanka the need to address the issue of missing persons urgently

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses deep concern over the lack of concerted actions by the Government of Sri Lanka on addressing the issue of the missing persons, as the continuous protest by their relatives has gone past one hundred days. The reports of intimidation and disruption of the peaceful protests by the Sri Lankan armed forces is deeply troubling.

Despite its commitments made to the member states of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at this year’s session in March, the Government of Sri Lanka has barely made any progress in ascertaining the whereabouts of the tens of thousands of persons missing – including those who have been made disappeared during the last days and after the end of war in May 2009. The Office of the Missing Persons (OMP), legislated in August 2016 has yet to become operational, and the government has not demonstrated ‘a comprehensive strategy … … to pursue the different transitional justice processes in a coordinated, integrated and appropriately sequenced manner.’

The UNHRC Resolution 30/1 adopted in September 2015 and the follow-up Resolution 34/1 adopted in March 2017 requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to continue to assess progress in the implementation of its recommendations in respect of Sri Lanka.

With impassioned protests by the relatives of the missing for the past 100 days in Killinochchi (and other places) reaching a breaking point, statements by the Governor of Northern Province stating no inquiries could be held regarding missing persons and  lack of any actions from government leaders are making matters worse.

We, therefore, earnestly request the OHCHR to send high level representatives to talk to the protesters directly, defuse the situation, and offer assistance with the setting up of a credible mechanism that will help ascertain the fate of the missing persons speedily.

ATC also calls upon the international community, in particular the Australian Government, to raise the missing persons issue at the highest levels of the Sri Lankan
Government, impress on Sri Lanka the need to operationalise the OMP promptly, and facilitate its functioning effectively.