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OMP to fund Mannar mass grave excavation despite concerns over independence

The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) has said it would fund the excavation of Mannar mass grave site "as long as necessary". 

The OMP has faced fierce criticism from Tamil families of the disappeared and civil society organisations for its lack of independence however, with mothers of the disappeared boycotting OMP hearings. 

In a letter last month mothers of the disappeared explained their concerns: 

"There is no transparency adopted in the selection of the Commissioners for the OMP. Selections were made by the Constitutional Council in which Sinhala Politicians are also members, who repeatedly said that they will not allow any members of the Security force to face justice. Can OMP guarantee that alleged perpetrators will be brought to justice? 

Out of the seven Commissioners is a former senior Security force officer. How can we go and seek justice from him? Can OMP take steps to remove him as its Commissioner? 

Repeated requests to have some OMP Commissioners from the UN and other international experts were rejected. How do you expect us to have confidence in OMP, given the long and failed history of Sri Lankan Government appointed Commissions to deal with abuses against Tamils? Can OMP include UN and other International experts as Commissioners?" 

The skeletal remains of an estimated 63 people have been excavated from the site.  

“We had already granted funds for the excavation site project in Mannar and have expressed our willingness to support this endeavor in future too,” OMP President, President’s Counsel, Saliya Peris told the Sunday Observer.