Government asserts OMP not a law-enforcement or judicial body

The Government today asserted that the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) is not a law-enforcement or judicial body.

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that the OMP does not aim to benefit only one community and does not threaten another.

“It is merely a truth-seeking mechanism. It aims to investigate and find out the truth about those identified as “missing” or who have disappeared during conflict. According to the international Committee of the Red Cross, over 16,000 individuals have gone missing during the civil war. Of them, 5100 belonged to the armed forces. These are the very same individuals who fought against the terror that the LTTE created. We as a nation, have a responsibility to find the truth about where they are, and to bring an end to the agony faced by their families and loved ones,” he said.

The Minister said the OMP mandate cuts across all ethnic and religious boundaries and seeks to investigate persons missing in connection with the conflict of the North and East and its aftermath.

“The mandate of the OMP ensures that it will carry out searching and tracing of missing persons, clarifying the circumstances in which such persons went missing and their fate, making recommendations to relevant authorities in order to reduce incidents of missing and disappeared persons, and identifying proper avenues of redress available to the families of the missing persons and informing them of the same,” he said.

The Minister said that despite its role as an investigative body, the OMP is not a law-enforcement or judicial body such as a court of law, and the OMP Act clearly states that “the findings of the OMP shall not give rise to any criminal or civil liability.”

“The myths that have been spread about the OMP claiming that it is a witch hunt to prosecute our war heroes is a lie. The OMP cannot prosecute perpetrators of violence. These rumors are political manipulations to deter the fair and just actions taken by the government towards peace and reconciliation,” he added.

Samaraweera said that the OMP gives the chance for renewed faith and hope for those who have lost their families and friends. (Colombo Gazette)