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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.

After several discussions with government officials on the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, I reverted last week to what we had begun in the Reconciliation Office in February, before I was asked to convene the Task Force on the Plan. This was a series of consultations with Civil Society on the Plan, and as mentioned previously, a number of good ideas had come up with regard to areas of particular concern, Women and Children, the Law’s delays and Prisons.

It is always refreshing to get a different perspective on the measures to be taken, and I was reminded again of the need to consult regularly with civil society, since it is easy for bureaucrats to lose sight of the fact that the rules and regulations they work by were initially created principally to provide a better service to the public. Rarely do bureaucrats summon up a sense of indignation about abuses that occur, and I feel this is essential if action is to take place with the speed that is needed.

Facilities for children in remand are a disgrace, but those responsible for implementing them seem totally to have forgotten the clear rulings given by Justice Shirani Thilakawardana in this regard. Following her ruling, there should have been a thorough overhaul of the Probation Department, with clear guidelines issued as to daily duties, but this has not happened. Though the National Child Protection Authority does its best now, and the new Secretary to the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Development has been a tower of strength, the structural reforms needed, with procedures for monitoring and reporting on a regular basis, have not been set in place.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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