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Amnesty calls on Sri Lanka to commit funds to support transitional justice process

Amnesty International has called on the Sri Lankan government to commit funds to support the transitional justice process for victim survivors, ahead of today's national budget announcement for 2021. 

In a statement, the rights group expressed their concern that the budgets of the Office on Missing Persons and the Office on Reparations, which have produced minimal progress, "may be scaled back". 

"If their budgets are slashed, the government would cripple the limited gains made by the transitional justice process. This week, the authorities must allocate sufficient funds for both offices to continue their vital work to deliver effective redress for victims,"  said David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International. 

Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into office in November 2019, interim relief payments to families of the disappeared have stopped, "putting them under further financial strain". 

"Fearing that the work of the Office on Missing Persons will enable war crime charges to be brought against the Sri Lankan military, the government has also stated that it will review the Act establishing the Office," the statement added.

In October 2015, Sri Lanka co-sponsored UN resolution 30/1, pledging to undertake a meaningful transitional justice process, including the setting up of a hybrid court with international judges, security sector reform and a political settlement that addresses the root causes of the conflict on the island. 

However, in February this year, the Rajapaksa administration withdrew from the resolution and insisted a "domestic process" to address concerns over transitional justice. 

"Sri Lanka's history is replete with examples of domestic accountability mechanisms that have failed to deliver truth, justice and reparations for victims or to hold perpetrators accountable," Griffiths highlighted. 

Read Amnesty International's full statement here.

Tamil families of the disappeared have rejected the Office of Missing Persons for its repeated failures and lack of progress in providing justice. In a letter  Despite the formation of the government-sanctioned, Organisation for Missing Persons (OMP) in September 2017 - which promised to help provide answers and justice for the missing persons – the families of the disappeared have rejected it for its repeated failures and lack of progress in providing justice.

In September, the families of the disappeared wrote to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. 

“We lodged [our] first five cases with established evidences on 20/07/2019 (…) [but] there has been no progress in their investigations over the past 13 months."

"It is well evident the fact that none of the government with the Sinhala ethnocratic ideology in the Sri Lankan parliament would pronounce a meaningful justice for the people from the deprived communities like us in the country," they added. 

Read more here: Families of the disappeared urge UNHRC to help provide 'meaningful justice' for missing relatives. 

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