A High-level Meeting was convened by the President of the General Assembly to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disapearances today (17/2) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations delivered a statement during the plenary segment of the meeting.
This event was held in order to review the positive impact of the Convention during these first ten years and to discuss ways and best practices to prevent enforced disappearances, to combat impunity and to protect and promote human rights for all. The full statement can be found below
H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera delivers the statement during the 10th Anniversary commemoration of the International Convention of the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances
General Assembly High Level Plenary Meeting to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the International Convention to Protect All Persons from Enforced Disappearances
H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
17th February 2017
Mr. President, Excellencies,
I would also join other dignitaries from various Member States to echo the expression of our gratitude to the President of the General Assembly for organizing this high level meeting.
The text of this Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2006 and entered into forced in December 2010 when 20 States joined the Convention. As we all know, this convention places an obligation on States to investigate acts of enforced disappearance and to bring those responsible to justice. Since 2007, the number of State Parties to this convention has gradually increased and it is encouraging that currently the number stands at 55.
Sri Lanka signed this Convention on 10 December 2015. On 25 May 2016, Sri Lanka ratified the Convention and accepted the competence of the Committee under article 32 to receive and consider communications in which a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under this Convention. Sri Lanka is the only Member State from South Asia to ratify this Convention.
One of the important steps taken by the Government, soon after the ratification of this Convention, was the passage of Act no 14 of 2016 of 26 August 2016, which established an Office of Missiong Persons (OMP).
This office is an independent institue and its primary mandate is to search for and trace missing persons and clarifying the circumstances in which such persons went missing. Other aspects of the OMP mandate include making recommendations to relevant authorities to address the incidence of missing persons, protecting the interests of missing persons and their relatives, and collating data related to missing persons from previous processes carried out by other entities and to establishing a centralized database. Unlike previous mechanisms, the mandate of the Office of the Missing Persons covers all missing persons regardless of the time period during which such person became a missing person.
The Parliament had also approved the Bill to amend the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) Act No 19 of 2010 for the issuance of 'Certificates of Absence'.
Sri Lanka made the above strides in laying ground work to deal with the issue of enforced disappearances with guidance from the UN mechanisms, most importanly, from the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. The Working Group visited Sri Lanka in November 2015 and subscribing to this Convention was a key recommendation by this group.
As a country which has come out of a long drawn conflict, Sri Lanka could subscribe to the fact that mechanisms such as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances could immensely help countries in their post-conflict reconciliation efforts.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to emphasize once again that Sri Lanka will continue to implement this Convention in good faith in coming months and years, and work on the issue of enforced disappearances with the objective of ensuring the right to truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. We also look forward to continue to work in close cooperation with the internaitonal comuity in Sri Lanka's journey towards economic and social progress, reconciliation, and achieving durable peace for all our people.
I thank you Mr. President.