Government and civil groups to work together on human rights
by Melani Manel Perera

The Sri Lankan Government has accepted 177 recommendations (out of a total of 233) made by the UN Commission on Human Rights. The role of advocacy groups is fundamental in making the general public aware of the content of the periodic review.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Sri Lankan government and civil society groups have agreed to work together on human rights issues. Officials from the government, civil society organisations, and the United Nations will start with a shared approach and will seek a joint path of cooperation and dialogue between the parties.

Meeting in the Sri Lankan capital on 22-24 August, the various stakeholders reiterated their commitment to the implementation of recommendations made by the United Nations following the Universal Periodic Review, which the government accepted last March.

Some 43 civil society associations attended the event but some 94 took part in the Universal Periodic Review process.

The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), the Movement for the National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) and the Law and Society Trust (LST) played an important role in facilitating dialogue between the various parties and motivating human rights groups to participate. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also played a vital role in getting other government departments to cooperate.

During the periodic review, civil society groups played an important role by raising awareness about human rights programmes, carrying out educational campaigns, translating the recommendations into Sinhala and Tamil, informing specific groups about their content, most notably women and workers (fisherman, plantation labourers, etc.).

At the three-day meeting, participants were divided into eight working groups according to sector and examined the recommendations accepted by the Government of Sri Lanka, 177 out of a total of 233.

The latter included: meeting the needs of the people impacted by the civil war; ensuring the full return and resettlement of Internally Displaced People; guaranteeing the participation of minorities in the decision-making process and offering them equal economic and social opportunities; boosting the protection of Tamils so that they can enjoy full economic, cultural and social rights; fighting child labour as well as discrimination against the most vulnerable groups, including women.