The issue of enforced disappearances has impacted Sri Lankan’s across the ethnic divide for decades. The use of enforced disappearances during the “youth insurrections” of the 1970’s and 80’s and during the protracted armed conflict by both state and non-state actors is well documented. Despite several commissions of inquiry appointed by successive governments to investigate these incidents, the fate of thousands remains unknown. Several such commissions of inquiry have recommended legal reforms to address the issue of enforced or involuntary disappearances and to eliminate this phenomenon in the future. An overwhelming majority of these detailed recommendations remained unimplemented for decades. “….In order to address this issue comprehensively and to eliminate this phenomenon in the future as well as to fill an existing lacuna, the Commission strongly recommends that domestic legislation be framed to specifically criminalize enforced or involuntary disappearances.”- Report of the Commission OF Inquiry On Lessons Learnt And Reconciliation, 2011, 5.46
Sri Lanka signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) in December 2015 and ratified it in May 2016. In order to give legal validity to the ICPPED in Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka introduced the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill (Bill) which was gazetted on the 09th of February 2017 and subsequently tabled in Parliament.
CPA produces this basic guide to raise awareness on the proposed legislation. The next phase of the law-making process entails that the Bill is open to amendment at the committee stage debate. This basic guide is meant to inform those involved in the process and other stakeholders as to what is presently proposed. Subsequent to enactment, CPA will update this guide to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the new legislation.