The UN has called on Lankan authorities to accelerate efforts to ascertain the fate or whereabouts of victims of enforced disappearances and to provide reparations to those who have suffered, and to hold perpetrators accountable.
UN resident coordinator in Sri Lanka Marc-André Franche in a statement issued to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on Wednesday, said: Enforced disappearances have left a painful scar on the nation’s history and continue to shape the lives of thousands of Sri Lankans who exist in a state of ambiguity, where their loved ones are neither present nor definitively absent. With little progress in the last decades, families in Sri Lanka are struggling more than ever to learn the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Their relentless pursuit for answers has often exposed them to further victimization – intimidation, stigma, and marginalization.
As the world marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, our thoughts turn to the victims of this heinous crime and those who have suffered the anguish of not knowing the fate of their loved ones. This day resonates deeply in Sri Lanka, where many families and communities across the country have endured years of uncertainty and suffering, forced to live in the shadows of unanswered questions.
In recent years, Sri Lanka took some important steps towards addressing the legacy of enforced disappearances. The signing of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) in 2015 and the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) were important milestones. The “List of Complaints and Information Regarding Missing and Disappeared Persons,” received and published by the OMP, has served as a foundation upon which we measure progress in delivering justice.
Yet, much remains to be done to ensure the victims’ rights to the truth, to justice, and to reparations. We call on the authorities to accelerate efforts to ascertain the fate or whereabouts of victims, to provide reparations to those who have suffered, and to hold perpetrators accountable. Establishing the truth is essential for victims, survivors, and families as well as for the society at large, for it is through truth that healing can begin and the process of reconciliation can start.
The United Nations stands in solidarity with the victims and families of enforced disappearances and reiterates its support to the relatives of the forcibly disappeared in their struggle for truth, justice, and reparation.
As we mark this day, let us renew our dedication to ensuring that enforced disappearances become relics of the past. Let us stand up for the rights of victims, uphold the principles of justice, and forge a future where no family is left in the grip of uncertainty. Addressing this legacy is not only a matter of justice but an essential foundation for Sri Lanka to chart a path of progress and sustainable development.