Commission supports steps to heal trauma of enforced disappearances
Graphic: Parliament of Sri Lanka at night
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is supporting a Bill that aims to provide healing to families affected by enforced disappearances.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is supporting the passage of a Bill that aims to provide healing to families affected by enforced disappearances.
The Commission included its observations on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances Bill in a letter to the nation's President.
"The Commission believes the Bill is a positive step towards addressing the long history of disappearances in Sri Lanka and stemming impunity for gross violations of human rights," the Commision said.
"The Commission is of the view that enforced disappearance of a person is one of the most serious of human rights violations bringing untold sorrow to loved ones. As your Excellency is well aware, enforced disappearances have taken place in the Northern and Eastern as well as the Southern parts (during two insurrections) of the country, and affected all communities in Sri Lanka."
Disappearances have had a devastating impact on families, sometimes resulting in families being torn apart following the enforced disappearance of the sole breadwinner.
"Enforced disappearances have created thousands of women-headed households in Sri Lanka that have struggled to meet the basic needs of their children, including access to education," the Commission noted.
"Further, the emotional impact of not only losing a loved one but also of languishing for many years, even decades, not knowing the fate of the disappeared person has had a devastating psychological impact on family members. We have also witnessed many parents falling ill or passing away due to their inability to withstand the continuing sorrow and pain.
"Hence, enforced disappearances are not only a legal and human rights issue but also a social issue that has devastated the lives of thousands of Sri Lankans. More importantly, the Bill would send the message that citizens are protected from this most cruel and inhumane crime.
"Enacting the Bill would most certainly contribute immensely towards re-building ethnic relations damaged by the ethnic conflict and strengthen the journey towards reconciliation.
"Addressing this issue and enabling families to learn the truth about their disappeared loved ones is an important, courageous step Sri Lanka will be taking to re-affirm values of humanity, empathy and respect for the rule of law as a country."
The full version of the letter and the Commission's observations on specific provisions of the Bill are available on the Commission's website.
Date: 5 October 2017
- Parliament of Sri Lanka at night - Malinda Rathnayake, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2zijwSo