By Skandha Gunasekara
The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) has received over 13,000 files on missing/disappeared persons from the former Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, OMP Chief Saliya Peiris told the Daily FT.
According to Peiris, the files were handed over to the Ministry of Integration by various Grama Niladharis following a Ministry announcement to the public to submit instances of missing or disappeared persons.
“We have received over 13,000 filed from the former Ministry of National Integration. We are currently going through these cases. Some may overlap with the cases we have already received through our own investigations,” the OMP chief said. Furthermore, addressing a media workshop for journalists organised by Internews yesterday, Peiris revealed that the OMP expects to establish 12 provincial offices across the country.
“We want to establish a total of 12 provincial offices. Of these, five will be in the North and three in the East of the island. This will significantly help expedite our investigations” Peiris said.
In addition, Peiris went on to note that Sri Lanka had the highest number of missing person cases in South Asia.
“Although we don’t have official numbers, Sri Lanka has the highest number of missing or disappeared cases in South Asia.” Furthermore, Peiris pointed out that the process of tracing missing or disappeared persons was a long-term process. “In the 1970’s, there were roughly 4000 disappearances in Cyprus. In the early 1990’s, Cyprus set up their Office of Missing Persons. But, even now, their tracing process is still ongoing,” Peiris said, highlighting the fact that the process could be that long in Sri Lanka as well.