The Government recently announced an interim allowance of Rs.6,000 monthly to family members of missing or disappeared persons who have obtained a “Certificate of Absence” on behalf of their absent kin.
The disbursement of the interim allowance, which was one of the key recommendations made by the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in its first interim report released in September 2018, will be implemented from next month.
The Government passed the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provision) (Amendment) Act No.16 of 2016, to enable the Office of the Registrar General to issue a CoA to families of the missing and disappeared.
A CoA can be issued in respect of persons who are missing or disappeared as a result of the war and also due to political unrest, civil disturbances or enforced disappearances. A CoA can also be issued to members of the armed forces or the police reported missing in action.
The CoA is a legal document which provides for the legal 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.
According to the OMP annual report for the year 2018 tabled in Parliament last week, the National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry has handed over to the OMP, 14,641 complaints it received related to missing and disappeared persons. Additionally, the OMP has received 129 new complaints through letters, telephone calls, visits to the OMP Head Office, public meetings and through direct meetings with families of the missing and disappeared.