Jan 21, 2017

"National Action Plan on Human Rights not referred to HRCSL yet" Featured

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) is yet to receive the draft of the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (NHRAP), chairperson of the commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama says.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) said that they are preparing the new NHRAP for the next five years (2017-2021) to fulfill its obligation to protect and promote human rights in Sri Lanka.

However, speaking to the state publication - Daily News, the Chairperson said the draft of ‘National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2017-2021’ has not been referred to the HRCSL so far.

“Several parts of it were sent to us and we sent our observations on them. However, we are still unaware of the draft action plan that was presented to the Cabinet this week. It could have been better if it was referred to the Commission prior to presenting it to the Cabinet. The Commission will ask for a copy of it from the Foreign Ministry. The Commission has a role in examining the legislation from a human rights angle and advising the Government on them, but many draft policies and Bills do not reach the Commission and we have to search out for them ourselves” she had complained.

Dr. Udagama had further said the HRCSL looks at the issue of decriminalising homosexuality from a scientific and human angle, adding that the country has a history of stalling progressive legislation citing ‘cultural implications’ as excuses.

“In 2005, when the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill was presented in Parliament, the same argument on ‘culture’ came up during its debate. In the same way, even now some say homosexuality is against our culture. However, if all segments of the society are not incorporated or allowed to have their natural behaviour, there is a serious problem in that society,” she had noted.

She pointed out that the country’s policies should be framed not based on religious beliefs, but on common grounds. “We need to tolerate the differences among various groups of our society. We cannot move forward if we become judgmental, reject other groups or label them. All citizens must have the space to live respectfully,” she had commented.

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