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Human Rights

Missing persons: 650 families eligible for allowance

By Nisali De Silva

Ganeshamma, a teacher whose husband went missing, teaches her Grade 5 students. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Joanna Atkinson – Image credit: icrc.org

Some 650 families of Sri Lanka’s disappeared are eligible for a Rs. 6,000 monthly allowance as approved by Cabinet earlier this week, Chairman of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Saliya Pieris said.

The Cabinet on Tuesday (03) approved the monthly interim allowance for the families of missing persons that have obtained a Certificate of Absence (CoA).

According to the OMP, a CoA is a legal document which provides for the status of a missing or disappeared person and enables families of the missing and disappeared to access administrative and financial services and other benefits in the absence of a Certificate of Death.

Speaking to RepublicNext, the Chairman of OMP said that family members of any missing person in Sri Lanka, irrespective of the context in which the disappearance occurred, are eligible to receive the allowance by furnishing their CoA.

“Up to now, around 650 families of missing persons have obtained a CoA. There is a process of obtaining a CoA from the Registrar General Department. One way the Department issues a certificate is by basing it on the interim report given by the OMP. Family members of any missing person, such as those who disappeared in the war, persons listed as missing in action or persons disappeared due to sociopolitical conflicts are eligible to receive compensation,” Peiris said.

In its 2018 August interim report, the OMP made recommendations to the Government regarding interim relief for the families of the missing and disappeared concerning the provision of financial aid, debt relief, housing, educational support, vocational training, livelihood development and employment quotas. The allowance which will be given is a part of the provision of relief.