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http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/widget/generator.php?str=http://wp.me/pQcws-1rs&barcode=urlI was surprised to be invited last week to a consultation on the Rights of Elders organized by the Human Rights Commission, since this was not an area I knew about. In fact the Rights of Elders do not figure in the Human Rights Action Plan, which led to questions as to whether the latter should not be amended, to include these as well.

I was wondering why the topic had not been introduced, during the initial consultations about the Plan when we first began preparing it in 2008, but the reason became apparent when Mrs Jegarajasingham, who had been Secretary to the Ministry of Social Services under whom the subject comes, noted that a National Policy on Elders had in fact been adopted by Cabinet. That covered a lot of ground, and it clearly made no sense for the Human Rights Action Plan to duplicate what had already been agreed. However it would seem that that Policy had not been implemented, which seems to be the fate of many good intentions in Sri Lanka.

I don’t think this is intentional, but it certainly is a national hazard, given the large number of institutions owing allegiance to different authorities that have to be coordinated to give effect to policy – and our general failure to set up effective coordinating mechanisms. I could understand then why Minister Samarasinghe, having been asked to chair the Inter-Ministerial Committee, appointed me to convene the Task Force to promote implementation, because in addition to having worked with a number of the relevant agencies previously, I did not represent any institution that could be seen as invading the space of other institutions that fiercely guarded their own turf. This has enabled the Task Force to develop coordinating mechanisms in a number of areas, where we make it clear that there is no lead agency, it is simply that one must take the lead to ensure action.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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