A UN Committee has urged Sri Lanka to adopt a comprehensive Bill of Rights that fully incorporates economic, social and cultural rights, bearing in mind the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the fifth periodic report of Sri Lanka on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In a statement today the Committee said it is concerned that at present most economic and social matters relevant to the individualor groups are confined to the Directive Principles of State Policy Chapter of the Constitution.
“As stipulated in article 29 of the Constitution, these Directive Principles do not confer or impose legal rights or obligations, and are not enforceable in any court or tribunal. The Committee notes that the Supreme Court through the constitutional equality principle has derived the right to education from the Directive Principles, but that jurisprudence has so far not led to the establishment of a comprehensive catalogue of judicially enforceable economic, social and cultural rights,” the Committee said.
The Committee recommended that Sri Lanka build on the national momentum and expedite its Constitutional reform process, including the adoption of a comprehensive Bill of Rights that fully incorporates economic, social and cultural rights, bearing in mind the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights.
The Committee recommended that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka be established as an independent body by the new Constitution, and that its mandate is extended so that its investigate powers also cover economic, social and cultural rights.
It also recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that the Commission has sufficient resources and that its recommendations are duly considered by the relevant State bodies. The Committee encourages the State party to ensure that the Commission seek re-accreditation by the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
The Committee encourages the State Party to take into account the recommendations of the 2017 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers on her mission to Sri Lanka, in order to ensure that judiciary is fully independent and duly representative.
The Committee also urged Sri Lanka to amend the Penal Code with a view to decriminalizing consensual same-sex conduct. It recommends that the State party take urgent steps to combat and prevent violence against LGBTI persons and ensure their equal enjoyment of all human rights, in particular their right to health, education, work and housing. It also recommends that the State party develop and implement training programs to educate and sensitize law enforcement, teachers, health care workers and public employees on LGBTI related issues. (Colombo Gazette)