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Reparations Office devising psychosocial support prog.

The Office for Reparations is presently formulating a new psychosocial support programme to aid aggrieved persons, The Morning learnt.

“We are embarking on a programme to provide psychosocial support for aggrieved persons in collaboration with the relevant Government officers. We will commence with the conduct of an assessment of the needs,” Office for Reparations Sri Lanka Chairperson Dharani Wijayathilake told The Morning yesterday (25).

According to Wijayathilake, the assessment of needs is done through multiple stakeholder consultations. She added that a holistic approach for the entire programme would be considered.

However, Wijayathilake added that the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed the progress of the programme. “We have still not gone to the field either,” said Wijayathilake.

Aggrieved persons, as defined under the Office for Reparations Act, No. 34 of 2018, include persons who have suffered damage as a result of the loss of life or damage to their person or property, in the course of, consequent to, or in connection with the armed conflict which took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces or its aftermath, due to political unrest or civil disturbances, or such damage being in the nature of prolonged and grave damage suffered by individuals, groups or communities, or due to an enforced disappearance (as defined in the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance Act, No. 5 of 2018), and relatives of a deceased person or a person missing in the circumstances referred to above.

Officials at the Office for Reparations told The Morning that a total of 7,727 aggrieved persons had been provided with compensation since 2019 to December 2020, amounting to a total sum of Rs. 1.012 billion.

From January 2019 to December 2019, 5,034 aggrieved persons had been paid a total sum of Rs. 717.19 million. However, from January 2020 to December 2020, 2,693 aggrieved persons had received compensation amounting to a sum of Rs. 295.07 million.

When inquired as to the reasons behind the reduction of compensated aggrieved persons in 2020, the official said that it was due to the pandemic, where the manual functioning of the Office had not taken place for three months from March 2020.

The official further mentioned that currently, compensation is given to those who have suffered due to death, injury or the loss of property.

The Act came into operation at the end of 2018 to provide compensation and reparations to victims of violence and to act as a measure of reconciliation and security. Primarily, the Act establishes the grant of reparations to persons who have suffered due to the armed conflict or its aftermath, due to political unrest or civil disturbances, or due to the enforced disappearances. The Office started its operations in April 2019, under its Board of Directors – Dr. J.M. Swaminathan, Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) W.W. Rathnapriya Bandu, A.A.M. Fathihu, Sellathamby Sumithra and Chairperson Wijayathilake.