UN welcomes Sri Lanka in Human Rights Commission
by Melani Manel Perera

The Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), a network that coordinates relations between individual associations and the United Nations, has granted full status to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. The needed criterion (missing since 2000) was independence.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – After waiting for several years, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has obtained A status which will enable it to attend the UN Human Rights Council.

The Commission’s president, Dr Deepika Udagama, is happy for the important recognition. "It is an achievement not only for the Commission but for the whole country".

An A grade represents a considerable achievement for organisations that deal with human rights protection. It is awarded by the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), a global network of national human rights institutions that coordinates the relationships between individual associations and UN bodies working in the human rights field.

The Alliance applies the Paris principles of 1993, according to which an NGO must meet the following international standards: full mandate, operate on the basis of universal human rights rules and criteria, autonomy from the government, independence guaranteed by statute or the Constitution, pluralism, adequate resources and independent power of investigation.

At the meeting held in Geneva from 14 to 18 May, GANHRI certified the independence requirement that he Commission did not have in the 2000 evaluation.

“The HRCSL has been working tirelessly over the past several years to win public confidence as an independent body," said Dr Udagama explained.

“We came forward for the rights of socially discriminated groups, prisoners and women. We strongly recommended to the Government to establish the Office of Missing Persons (OMP). We have taken a keen interest on economic and social rights of the people," she added. 

Contacted by AsiaNews, some commentators expressed satisfaction with the recognition. At the same time, they note that "the Commission must work hard on individual cases, much more than now".

"Of the 120 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) reviewed as of January 2018, only 77 have been granted A status,” said Nihal Chandrasiri, acting director of the Research and Monitoring Division and Inquiries and Investigations Division of the HRCSL.

“Aside from Sri Lanka, India and Nepal are the only countries in South Asia to have the A grade NHRIs. Only 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have NHRIs with A status accreditation.”