The Bill provides for the provision of individual and collective reparations for aggrieved persons. As per the Bill, “aggrieved persons” mean persons who have suffered a violation of human rights or humanitarian law, their relatives and missing persons.
The scope of the legislation is not limited to the conflict in the North and the East, but also “any political unrest or civil disturbance, systematic gross violations of the rights of individuals, groups or communities of people of Sri Lanka, and enforced disappearances”.The Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority Act, No.29 of 1987 will be repealed by the new Bill.
The Office for Reparations shall consist of five members appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council (CC). In the event of the President failing to make the necessary appointments within a period of 14 days of receiving the recommendations, the persons recommended by the CC will be deemed to have been appointed as the members.
The Office of Missing Persons can send recommendations on reparations to be made to aggrieved persons to the Office for Reparations.The proposed Reparations Office also can directly receive applications for reparations from aggrieved persons or their representatives.
The new office will be responsible in deciding the criteria for eligibility for aggrieved persons to obtain reparations and/or financial compensation, the quantum of reparations, and which body has to pay them. Implementation of such policies on reparations and guidelines is subject to the approval by the Cabinet.
The proposed office has the power to gather necessary information by requesting reports, records, documents or information from governmental authorities or any other sources. The Bill particularly mentions that “the receipt of reparations shall not preclude aggrieved persons from pursuing any remedy available in law to such persons, against any person who may have violated the rights of such persons”.
The Office for Reparations within three months of the commencement of its functions should appoint an Information Officer to respond to the queries made under the Right to Information Act. The Bill also provides for the establishment of a Secretariat which will be charged with the responsibility for the administration of the affairs of the Office for Reparations. The Office for Reparations should submit annual reports, including its audited accounts, to Parliament.
As per the Bill “individual reparations” mean, any monetary payment or material benefit provided to an aggrieved person, micro-finance and concessionary loans, educational programmes, training, and skills development programmes, administrative assistance, and welfare services including psycho-social support provided to an aggrieved person, measures of restitution, including the provision of land and housing, and other appropriate measures identified by the Office for Reparations.
“Collective reparations” mean, remembrance of deceased persons, including memorials, development of infrastructure, educational programmes, training, and skills development programmes, community development programmes or services, and other appropriate programmes as identified by the Office of Reparations in consultation with affected communities.