Sri Lanka’s presidency has said that death certificates for thousands of people missing presumed dead from the country’s civil war will be given out only after proper investigations.
The statement on Friday followed comments from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that those missing were “actually dead” had caused anguish among relatives that the government would close the issue without addressing what happened to their loved ones.
“After the necessary investigations, steps would be taken to issue a death certificate and the necessary support for the families to rebuild their lives,” Rajapaksa’s office said.
It also noted that Rajapaksa in his earlier comments that emerged on Monday did not refer to the number of people reported to be missing since the end of the drawn-out Tamil separatist war in May 2009.
But official figures show that more than 23,500 complaints in respect of missing people had been registered with the authorities. Among those were some 5,000 security personnel.
The question of missing people has been a hot-button issue for successive Sri Lankan governments.
It was among the topics discussed during a meeting Rajapaksa had with the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer, last week, but they did not mention numbers, the statement said.