Peiris told that the commission met with family members of those reported missing, along with civil society groups and members of media. “We engaged in a productive discussion with them where they raised the many concerns they had about the process,” he said, adding that the majority of the families appeared to be disheartened and frustrated but also hopeful they may receive the answers they are searching for.
With the OMP commencing its operations, he said the office hopes to gain the trust of the people through its process. Earlier, member of the OMP, Dr Nimalka Fernando was quoted assuring the families that their problems will be addressed and asking the families to place their trust in the newly formed office.
However, according to regional correspondents attending the meeting, the public had raised their concerns, claiming they were finding it difficult to have faith in the office after the long period they have had to go through without receiving any answers about their missing family members. As a result, many are said to have requested an international mechanism to be put in place.
Meanwhile, Peiris also said much still needs to be done with the setting of the OMP such as hiring necessary staff. “It will happen simultaneously along with the public process,” he said, adding that, however, a time frame cannot be given as it is an ongoing and complex process.
The series of regional level consultations are considered a vital and the initial step in the process to operationalise the functions of the OMP to assist the families of missing persons. Commencing in Mannar, the OMP will visit Matara, Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Kandy, Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Ampara in the first phase.
The office while understanding the urgency and frustrations of the families has requested them to be patient so that the office can ensure the vital processes put in place.