Saturday, 20 October 2018 03:13

Civil Society Voices Concerns on Sri Lanka’s Report to UNHRC

NPC coordinated civil society discussions on Sri Lanka’s sixth periodic statement on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement will be presented to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The participants, who included members of NPCs District Inter Religious Committees from 16 districts, discussed the report in five groups covering different topics.

The first group discussed Constitutional, legal framework and independence of judiciary, views under the Optional Protocol and right to life. Some of its recommendations:

  • There should be amendments to ensure that deliberations in International Covenants automatically become law in the country
  • Right to life should be legalized until the new Constitution is introduced
  • The national policy (2016/17) on reconciliation to be legalised immediately
  • Measures are needed to improve publicity on Transitional Justice

The second group discussed Non-discrimination, violence against women, abortion and maternal mortality, corporal punishment and the rights of minorities. Some of its recommendations:

  • Land rights should be given to women
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity should be reformed to include homosexual orientation
  • Proposals made on abortions should be implemented soon
  • Tri-lingual law should be confirmed
  • Strict prohibition on corporal punishment in schools

Group 3 discussed counter-terrorism, former combatants, enforced disappearances, prohibition of torture and ill treatment and detentions. Some of its recommendations:

  • All former combatants should be given security and the space for freedom of movement
  • Disabled former combatants should get the assistance given by the government
  • The powers of the Office on Missing Persons officers should be increased
  • A person arrested for an ordinary offence should be presented at courts within 24 hours instead of 48 hours

Group 4 discussed internally displaced persons, prison overcrowding, trafficking in persons and security sector reforms. Some of its recommendations:

  • Data and information should be available on resettled people
  • The resettlement policy should be made public
  • Instead of prison punishments, a community based Reform Act should be developed

Group 5 discussed freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and participation in the political process, good governance and freedom of religion. Some of its recommendations:

  • There should be more awareness on the Right to Information Act
  • Investigations into attacks on journalists should be speeded up
  • The government should practice good governance
  • There should be social activities to promote cooperation among religions
  • Children should learn about religions other than their own