Included in their demand for the release of the list, protestors said in their June memo to President Sirisena that “the Government should collate this information intelligently and make [it] available to us to find out whether any of our loved ones are on such lists.” In their fourth demand, the relatives further stated that “the Government must release these lists to a representative group of families of the disappeared, their lawyers and any representatives they authorize”.

It is vitally important that this request is respected, and that the manner and timing of the release of the list conforms with the wishes of the families of the disappeared. Where explicitly authorized by the families, lawyers and other interlocutors may play a key role in terms of advising on what the evidence or absence of evidence contained within the list represents (based on the particulars of each case), and helping to ensure that proper aftercare arrangements are put in place so that the potential psychological impacts on family members can be effectively managed.

Meanwhile, this article provides some useful advice to public figures and media personnel on how to approach and conduct public discussion on sensitive issues such as this without causing unnecessary distress to affected individuals.