By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
The controversial Office for Reparations Bill received the approval of the House yesterday.
The Office of Reparations Bill is aimed at providing legal provisions for the establishment of the Office for Reparations, to identify war-affected people eligible for reparations.
Similar to the Office of Missing Persons, the establishment of this new office is part of the matters envisaged in the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka adopted on 1 October 2015.
The Bill is meant to identify aggrieved persons eligible for reparations, and to provide for the provision of individual and collective reparations to such persons to repeal the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority Act No. 29 of 1987. As part of implementing the resolutions by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Cabinet endorsed a Bill to be enacted by Parliament for the payment of reparation in respect of war-affected and missing persons. However, there was resistance within the Cabinet for the reparation formula which includes benefits to families of former LTTE combatants. The formula has been worked out by Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan.
Some Ministers including Patali Champika Ranawaka opposed benefits being provided to families of ex-LTTE cadres.
The Cabinet memorandum was prepared by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The UNHRC in its resolution on Sri Lanka called for proposals for transitional justice in Sri Lanka. The establishment of the Office of Missing Persons was one such step.