Today August 30 is International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The United Nations stands in solidarity with the victims of enforced disappearances, their families and communities, here in Sri Lanka and across the world.
Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation. They experience mental anguish, alternating between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news of the whereabouts of their loved ones. The families and friends of the victims also live with the insecurity that the search for the truth may expose them to danger.
It is women who are most often at the forefront of the struggle to resolve the disappearance of family members. In this capacity they may suffer intimidation, persecution, and reprisals.
The feeling of insecurity generated by unresolved enforced disappearances is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and all of society.
The establishment of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in 2016 was an important step by the Government of Sri Lanka. Building and maintaining the trust of victims and their relatives is essential for the success of the OMP. A fully independent and effective institution, with the resources, skills and political support needed for its crucial work can help provide victims and families some answers.
Today we recognise the courage, commitment and determination of families and victims from all communities, who, despite many challenges, have continued to voice their demands for justice and answers about the fate of their missing loved ones and we stand by them.