Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed seven members to the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and handed over the over the appointment letters to the commissioners of the OMP on Wednesday at the Presidential Secretariat.
The OMP law was passed in Parliament in Aug 2016 and the office became operational in September 2017 after President signed the gazette notification to operationalize the OMP.
The OMP is the first pillar of Sri Lanka’s four transitional justice mechanisms under design and implementation. The others are Office to handle reparations, a truth and reconciliation commission and a judicial mechanism to address allegations of wartime abuses.
The Acting Secretary General of the Constitutional Council in October 2017 called for applications to appoint members to the OMP.
Applications were called from persons with previous experience in; fact finding or investigation, human rights law, international humanitarian law, humanitarian response, or possess other qualifications relevant to the carrying out the functions of the OMP.
The Commissioners were selected in an open and competitive process conducted by the Constitutional Council and were nominated by the Council to the President for appointment.
President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris has been appointed as the Chairman of the OMP while Ms Jayatheepa Punniyamoorthy, Major General Mohanti Antonette Peiris, Dr Sriyani Nimalka Fernando, Mr Mirak Raheem, Mr Somasiri K Liyanage, and Mr Kanapathipillai Venthan have been appointed as members for a 3 year period.
Sri Lanka’s national Budget for 2018 also made an allocation of Rs 1.3 billion to establish the OMP.
The OMP will be an independent body reporting to Sri Lanka’s Parliament and is expected to bring a degree of closure to surviving family members of Sri Lanka’s internal conflicts and will set the stage for sustainable reparations for victims and their families.