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

The third subject on which government held consultations last week about implementation of the Human Rights Action Plan was that of the Internally Displaced. I had thought there were no great problems there, given the swift resettlement programme government had implemented, and in fact I think this is an area about which we can be proud. However, as the Plan indicated, we could do more to institutionalize practices and make sure people do not fall through the net.

This section of the Plan begins with the need to adopt a National Policy on Displacement, something we had realized three years ago was lacking. Indeed I have now realized that preparing National Policies is not something we are very good at. Half the problems about land, that it seems now bedevil discussions about devolution, could be resolved easily if we had the National Land Policy that the 13th Amendment introduced, but which has been completely forgotten over a quarter of a century.

Part of the problem is the total lack of responsibility with which Cabinets are constructed and functions allocated. While rethinking is sometimes advisable, very few of the changes that occur are the result of thinking. Thus new Ministers come in, without an institutional memory to rely on, which means that those thus inclined simply use their Ministries as tools of electoral success. Of course there are several who do want to do a good job, but they are not helped by the absence of clear guidelines, or creative understanding in the officials who are shuffled around amongst newly conceived Ministries.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2012
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