New Constitution will include a Bill of Rights

first-amendmentThe new Constitution will include a Bill of Rights that takes into account not only civil and political rights but economic, social and cultural rights as well, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

He said that the new Constitution will address the needs of all citizens and communities and allow greater participation for the public in decision making processes relating to matters in their respective areas.

“This would enable more accountable and more responsible government in the country. Such a Constitution, with electoral reform and restoration of stronger Parliamentary government would be essential to ensure reconciliation and lasting peace with justice and rule of law,” he said.

The Foreign Minister expressed these views during a speech made at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.

Samaraweera said that there is full realization that in order not to slip back into unfortunate conflicts such as the insurrections in the South and the problems in the North which ultimately led to terrorism, it is important that all citizens must feel that they have equal opportunities and have the ability to contribute to nation building.

He said that all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity and language must feel that they are equal partners, sharing equal rights.

The Foreign Minister also said that Sri Lanka has also initiated dialogue with diaspora groups and individuals with a view to working with them and obtaining their ideas, views, and assistance for the reconciliation process that is currently underway in the country including projects that directly relate to the welfare of the people.

He said that on the international stage, Sri Lanka is once again working closely with the United Nations Organisation and its systems and procedures.

“We liaise closely with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and his office and we remain open to working with the OHCHR to obtain technical assistance to address several important issues including justice and accountability related issues,” he added.

In keeping with the Government’s approach of working closely with the international community, Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka has forged stronger relations with the United Nations and its agencies to obtain financial and technical assistance including through the UN’s Peacebuilding Fund for formulating resettlement plans, meet the immediate requirements of those being resettled, training and capacity building, and reconciliation projects.

Overall, he says Sri Lanka will pursue a policy of engagement, dialogue and cooperation with all countries and international organizations, and will remain open to the ideas of others, their views and opinions while sharing Sri Lanka’s own experiences and views pertaining to matters that concern not only Sri Lanka, but the global community at large. (Colombo Gazette)

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