Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2022
30 August 2022
"Forced disappearances negate the very existence of the human being and deny the person in question the basic legal protection to which every man or women is entitled, no matter whether they are guilty or innocent." - Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the opening for signature of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (February 2007)
The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, marked globally, highlights the need to prevent enforced disappearances and to combat impunity for this heinous crime. Today, we also remember the many families and communities suffering, not knowing the fate of their loved ones.
I have met with many families of the missing from across Sri Lanka. For them, the uncertainty as to the fate of a loved one continues to be a painful reality that is raw and fresh. They relentlessly ask for answers to the whereabouts of their loved ones. Without answers, they suffer every day, wavering between hope and despair. In their search for truth and justice, they too have often been victimised.
By signing the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) in 2015, Sri Lanka took a first step in that direction, recognising the right of families to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation, and the fate of the disappeared person. The Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was another step in the right direction, and the ‘List of Complaints and Information Regarding Missing and Disappeared Persons’ received and published by the OMP offered a useful baseline against which to measure progress in clarifying cases. More needs to be done to win the confidence of the families of victims and provide credible processes for addressing their grievances in accordance with international standards.
The United Nations stands in solidarity with the victims and families of victims of enforced disappearances, and we continue to encourage authorities to take steps to urgently determine the fate or whereabouts of victims, provide reparations, and bring perpetrators to justice.
United Nations in Sri Lanka