South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders committed to addressing human rights issues at both national and regional levels, congratulates the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for signing the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. SAHR also welcomes the efforts by the GoSL towards establishing an office of missing persons and a Commission on Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-recurrence.
Enforced disappearances are a serious concern in South Asia. SAHR reiterates article 15 of the convention which states that “State Parties shall cooperate with each other and shall afford one another the greatest measure of mutual assistance with a view to assisting victims of enforced disappearance, and in searching for, locating and releasing disappeared persons and, in the event of death, in exhuming and identifying them and returning their remains.”
Although India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are signatories to this, it is not considered a crime within domestic legal frameworks in the sub region. Enforced disappearances is a continuing offence. Sri Lanka has the second highest number of reported cases of enforced disappearances as reported to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and even though the number has reduced compared to the time of the war no efforts have been made to locate and determine the fate of those disappeared. Therefore we hope that the Government of Sri Lanka will take all necessary steps to ratify this convention immediately without reservations and with the express recognition of the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances according to articles 31 and 32 of the Convention.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights.