In a landmark decision, Sri Lankan cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft legislation to enable issuing ‘certificates of absence’ for some 65,000 people, who went missing during the brutal three decade-long war with the LTTE, to settle long-pending issues of property for their kin.
“This measure will help tens-of-thousands of Sri Lankans whose family-members and loved ones are missing and who are unable to address practical issues relating to their disappearance”, the foreign ministry said.
Sri Lanka has one of the largest case-loads of missing persons in the world.
In fact, since 1994 alone, the government commissions have received over 65,000 complaints of missing persons. These include people who went missing during the government’s nearly three-decade-long war with Tamil separatists and a Marxist uprising.
The suffering and distress of the families of those missing is exacerbated as, at this point in time, the government does not recognise the status of missing persons, the ministry said.
“This means that the families of missing persons face a range of practical issues including inability or difficulty in facilitation of property transfer and ownership, applying for compensation, qualifying for social welfare payments and pensions and accessing frozen assets,” it said.