23September2017

Sri Lanka urged to deliver before "opportunity for reform is lost for good"

Adding to the growing frustration of the global rights community that expected Sri Lanka to fulfil its pledges on 'good governance',  an international legal watchdog has called upon the government to "deliver on its commitments before the opportunity for progressive reform is lost for good”.

In a statement urging the Sri Lanka to operationalize the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and establish transitional justice mechanisms without further delay the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) warns that Tamils who overwhelmingly voted the present government to office would lose faith.

The act to establish the OMP was approved by the parliament in August 2016.

OMP anniversary

On the one-year anniversary of the enactment of a law establishing the OMP, the ICJ called on the Sri Lankan Government to swiftly operationalize the Office.

ICJ also urged the Government to set up other transitional justice mechanisms it committed to in the context of a key 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution.

“The delay has already resulted in affected communities losing hope and faith in the Government’s transitional justice agenda, as is evident by continuous protests in the North,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia and Pacific Director.

Ongoing protests by relatives of disappeared Tamils have been continuing for nearly six months.

'Stop the disconnect'

The President allocating the subject of the OMP to himself without handing over the duty to a dedicated ministry has been denounced by ICJ as unconstitutional.

The Government’s failure to follow Constitutional provisions when setting up an important office such as the OMP, which has a permanent mandate to search and trace the whereabouts of “missing persons”, leaves the office exposed to future uncertainty - a move that affected communities can ill afford after a long and unjustifiable delay in setting up the OMP, the ICJ notes.

“The Government must act, and act now, to stop the disconnect between the hopes of affected communities and the lack of substantive progress of the transitional justice agenda from growing further, and deliver on its commitments before the opportunity for progressive reform is lost for good,” CJ’s Asia and Pacific Director Rawski added.

© JDS

 

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