May 18, Colombo: On the eighth anniversary of the end of the war, Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has urged the Lankan government to immediately enable the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) that has been approved by the parliament last year to help families of missing persons to discover the fate of their loved ones.
Following a petition submitted by the families of missing persons in the North to him, TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said his party would continue to urge the government to implement the OMP Act as soon as possible.
The OMP bill was enacted in Parliament on 11 August 2016 and certified into law by the Speaker on 23 August 2016.
The passage of the bill allows the Sri Lankan government to set up an Office on Missing Persons to help several thousands of families of missing persons across Sri Lanka to discover the fate of their loved ones, and the circumstances under which they went missing.
However the OMP Act is yet to be operationalized.
Addressing an event to mark the International Press Freedom Day in Colombo on Tuesday, MP Sumanthiran said the relatives of the missing persons are undergoing torture for the past several years as they still believe that their missing persons are alive.
Speaking to media the Tamil MP pointed out that the OMP Act needs to be brought under a ministry by the President as stated in the Constitution.
After 2015 General Election, the President assigned the subject of National Integration & Reconciliation to himself by way of a Gazette notification.
According to a report by Verité' Research, the Constitution and the 19th Amendment prohibit the President from assigning the subject of the OMP Act to himself and therefore, the operation of the OMP Act will require the President to assign the subject of the OMP Act to a minister other than himself.
MP Sumanthiran says the Tamil party will not accept the predicament as an excuse as amendments to a piece of legislation can be brought at any time.
However, the President had assured that the Act would be operational after incorporating the proposed amendments, the MP said.