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All Certificates of Absence for war missing to be issued before year-end


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The release of Certificates of Absence for people who went missing during the war years will be completed within this year, the Home Affairs Ministry assured yesterday, releasing a statement.

Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the Ministry had already issued a considerable number of certificates for missing persons in the country and would complete the process before December.  

Abeywardena has also warned that if anyone provides false information about a missing person, they are liable to five years of imprisonment under the charge of misleading the Government. 

 The certificate is being issued for any person who was reported missing and has not been heard of for a period exceeding one year. A relative of any such a person can apply to register their kin as “missing” and obtain a certificate.  

The application must be forwarded to the Registrar General or the District Registrar. After going through the relevant stipulated procedure, officials will issue the ‘Certificate of Absence’. That person’s name will be entered into the ‘Register of Missing Persons’.

The Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons proposed to the Government to issue a ‘Certificate of Absence’ to relatives of individuals reported as missing during the conflict until conclusive evidence is unearthed about what happened to them.  

The Certificate of Absence entitles the holder to the same rights as the holder of a certificate of death, and is a process that is followed by the International Red Cross. 

Certificates of Absence have been used in a number of countries with high incidence of missing persons and has been considered as an effective interim measure that balances the psychological and practical needs of family members and loved ones without dismissing the need for active investigation into cases of missing persons.

In June the Cabinet of Ministers approved draft legislation enabling the issuance of Certificates of Absence enabling family of missing to address practical issues relating to their disappearance.

  The draft legislation which involves an amendment to the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 19 of 2010 was gazetted on 8 June.


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