Sri Lanka briefs UN on steps taken to safeguard rights of children

A Sri Lanka delegation, presenting the country’s first report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, briefed the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the panoply of laws and executive and policy measures adopted by Sri Lanka to safeguard the rights of children and to ensure the wellbeing of children.

Emphasizing that most of such measures even preceded Sri Lanka’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Mrs. Dharshana Senanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, at the head of Sri Lanka’s delegation, clarified “With the ratification of the Optional Protocol, the national laws have been further strengthened in such a manner as to cover all elements of the offences stipulated in the Optional Protocol.”

The delegation elaborated on legal and regulatory reforms such as the formulation of a Child Protection and Justice Bill on par with international standards, intended to better address the concerns related to children in conflict with law or in need of care, and the establishment of guidelines for the operation of day-care centers.

Outlining the promotional and preventive activities undertaken by Ministries and other agencies in Sri Lanka to advance the best interest of the child, the delegation drew attention to the role of National Monitoring Committee (NMC) as an inclusive and robust monitoring mechanism.

Responding to questions raised by the Committee, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ambassador A.L.A Azeez apprised the Committee on the progress made in the implementation of national action plans. specially with regard to the rights of children as well as on the multi-stakeholder approaches adopted for their development and follow up.

The Sri Lanka delegation comprising representatives of the Attorney General’s Department, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), the Department of Probation and Child Care, Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva highlighted the best practices adopted by the Government through its various agencies to effectively enforce the rights and obligations under the Convention and its Optional Protocols, particularly in the areas of prevention, prosecution, promotion and protection.

Enhancing training and capacity building for officers including on gender sensitive approaches, and awareness raising and partnership with all stakeholders to prevent abuses of children remained among national priorities aimed to advance the objectives of the Optional Protocol, the delegation recalled. A strong emphasis was made on Sri Lanka’s continuing commitment to improve the quality of data management related to issues covered by the CRC and its Optional Protocol and integration of gender in Sri Lanka’s SDG vision and programmes.

Commenting on the implementation of the Optional Protocol, the Committee’s Rapporteurs for Sri Lanka Review, Assane Thiam and Ms. Mikiko Otani appreciated Sri Lanka for the constructive spirit in which it engaged with the Committee, and for the positive measures taken to advance the objectives of the Optional Protocol.

They, along with other members, expressed hope that Sri Lanka would do more in areas such as developing disaggregated data, necessary for targeted socio-economic measures and interventions.

Members of the Committee expressed sympathies for the loss of innocent lives and injuries caused by terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, which included the killing of around 50 children, and wished the country and people speedy recovery.

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