OMP to intervene on recovered bones in Mannar | Sunday Observer

OMP to intervene on recovered bones in Mannar

The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) will intervene in a case relating to bones recently recovered at the Sathosa Cooperative in Mannar against details provided by families of the disappeared, Chairman President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris said.

As the recently established permanent office to investigate thousands of cases of disappearances sets up operations, the OMP Chairman said his investigators would compare the details of the excavated bones with evidence provided by families of missing people, including DNA information.

“It’s a long-term process,” he said, adding that similar offices to trace disappeared persons in Chile, Guatemala and Cyprus took years to start investigations.

The OMP Chairman emphasised that the Office was not a court of law. “This is a humanitarian endeavour,” Pieiris added.

He said the Office of Missing Persons was still in the process of commencing operations, and doing outreach with affected families. “We have not started collecting victim testimony yet as we are consolidating existing records,” he said.

Pieris noted that the issue of enforced disappearances had been consistently politicised. “In reality it is a human problem – we have a real problem in this country, that is why each time a commission to look into missing persons is established, you have thousands of people going before them,” he explained.

Most disappeared people were men and most people who come before the commissions were women still searching for husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, he explained.

The OMP Chairman said that while tracing and investigation was the primary task, the Office would also look into providing psycho-social support for families and welfare and other support. “There is a 75-year-old mother in Matara whose three sons went missing in 1987-89 now faces practical issues about how to earn a living. She still does day labour at her age,” Pieris explained.

The OMP Chairman said that there were also 5,100 cases of missing service personnel that the Office would investigate. “Some military families have death certificates, but they still want to know what happened to their loved ones,” Pieris said.