Mahinda fears missing persons office will betray armed forces

150819160321-sri-lanka-mahinda-rajapaksa-august-2015-exlarge-169Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the proposed Office of Missing Persons (OMP) has many provisions designed to persecute the armed forces.

He said that in the midst of all the political and economic chaos in the country, the Government has placed before Parliament draft legislation to set up an Office of Missing Persons.

“This is one of several institutions to be established ‘to deal with the past’ in terms of the UNHRC resolution that the yahapalana government co-sponsored with the Western powers in September last year. The Office of Missing Persons Bill has many provisions designed to persecute our armed forces,” he added.

Rajapaksa noted that OMP will not be a part of Sri Lanka’s State law enforcement and justice system, but an independent body incorporated by Parliament which gives its members the power to function outside the normal rules and regulations that guide state institutions.

“Even though it is described as an ‘office’ the proposed OMP will be a tribunal for all practical purposes which can examine witnesses, issue summons and hold hearings. Its officers can enter without warrant, at any time of day or night, any police station, prison or military installation and seize any document or object they require for investigations. Anyone who fails or refuses to cooperate with the OMP may be punished for contempt of court,” he said.

He also said the seven ‘members’ of the OMP are to have experience in fact finding and expertise in human rights law and international humanitarian law which means that the appointees will for the most part be representatives of western funded NGOs or those who have worked with western sponsored international war crimes tribunals.

Rajapaksa says it is clear that the proposed Office of Missing Persons is meant to be an integral part of the judicial mechanism to deal with allegations of war crimes that the Government has undertaken to establish.

He warned that if the draft legislation becomes law, every member of Parliament who votes for it will be held responsible by the people for betraying the country and the armed forces. (Colombo Gazette)


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