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The full series of Sri Lanka Rights Watch as well as the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2011 – 2016 are available on the Peace & Reconciliation Website

One of the biggest problems with promoting Human Rights in Sri Lanka is that it has turned into either a business, or a battle, or both, for many. Those NGOs which believe it their duty to attack government, and use the funds they obtain primarily for this purpose, bear a heavy responsibility in this regard, but so do those elements in government which therefore react by being antagonistic to all NGOs. Many I know do extremely good work, and most are extremely well intentioned. Sometimes the overlap and failure to monitor and report coherently arises from incompetence, but often it is because government has not prescribed easy and effective systems of reporting and coordination.

Indeed, elements within government too often do not coordinate. There is also, often, a lack of clear cut job descriptions and reporting mechanisms. Recently for instance, in surveying the work of several Women’s and Children’s desks in terms of my efforts to facilitate District and Divisional Level Reconciliation Committees, I was struck at how different were the levels of involvement and achievement.

In the first place I should note that I was pleased at how the service has grown, as compared with when I first monitored its progress when I was Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. I also found a very competent and thoughtful person in charge in Colombo, and in a few stations – such as Vavuniya South and Kilinochchi, since I believe one should give credit where credit is due – there was innovation and coordination. The latter sent a pair of police officers, Sinhala and Tamil, the latter a fluent bilingual, who showed how easy it is to work together to ensure communication and mutual understanding.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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