The Sri Lankan Office on Missing Persons: Truth and justice in tandem?

08 November 2018 Isabelle Lassée

In October 2015, by co-sponsoring United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 entitled "Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka", the Sri Lankan government formally committed to embarking on a transitional justice process following three decades of armed conflict. Several thousand people allegedly disappeared during this period, often in connection with the armed conflict or as a result of internal disturbances. It is in this context that the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was operationalized in 2018. This article discusses the nature of tracing investigations into the fate and whereabouts of missing persons of the type to be carried out by the OMP. It argues that these investigations, while ostensibly pursuing a humanitarian approach, cannot be artificially and hermetically separated from criminal justice processes. Further, it seeks to demonstrate that an integrated approach whereby strong linkages with criminal processes are provided for and encouraged best serves the interests of truth and justice.

About the author

Isabelle Lassée
South Asian Centre for Legal Studies

Dr. Isabelle Lassée is Co-Founder and Head of Programmes of the South Asian Centre for Legal Studies, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She holds a doctorate in international law with high honours from Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas.