Sri Lankan authorities renew their commitment to complete the national reconciliation process. The International Committee of the Red Cross presented a report titled 'Needs of the Families of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka: Living with Uncertainty’. For Foreign Minister, the process of reconciliation must be undertaken not to "appease international pressure or to keep the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” but because "we owe it to the people of our nation to forge a new future where all citizens will be treated with equal dignity and respect."
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Representatives of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) met to discuss the latter’s report titled Needs of the Families of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka: Living with Uncertainty. Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva chaired the meeting.
“The Deputy Foreign Minister reiterated that the Government of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe recognise the importance of dealing with the issues related to the families of missing persons and that it was with this recognition that the Government on 14 September 2015, announced in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, its commitment to establish, by Statute, an Office on Missing Persons based on the principle of the families' right to know,” said a Foreign Ministry press release.
The meeting comes just a few days after the High Commissioner for Human Rights UN Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein paid a visit to the country and urged it to "defeat the demons" of its 30-year bloody conflict, which saw the Sri Lankan military pitted against Tamil Tiger rebels.
Deputy Foreign Ministry de Silva stressed the achievements of the current Sri Lankan government, which signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The UN General Assembly adopted the former in 2006.
Now, for the first time in 16 years, the government will allow the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to visit and has approved, pending parliamentary approval, the issuance of Certificates of Absence for the missing.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera stressed the need for reconciliation in the country and appealed to the victims on both sides to join the consultation process.
“There are many here today who still have fears and doubts,” Samaraweera said; however, the process of reconciliation must be undertaken not to "appease international pressure or to keep the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein happy," but because “We owe it to the people of our nation to forge a new future where all citizens will be treated with equal dignity and respect."