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Government Gazette

Upholding human rights

PRESIDENT Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government have received encomiums in Geneva for their commitment to human rights, despite a malicious propaganda campaign launched by various elements including the LTTE.

In his meetings with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louis Arbour and International Human Rights Council Luis Alfonso, President Rajapaksa has outlined the measures taken by the Government to protect human rights and investigate cases of rights abuse.

Alfonso in particular has appreciated steps taken by the Sri Lanka Government to not only appoint a Presidential Commission to probe human rights violations but also to permit an international panel of eminent persons to be present as observers.

It is true that we live in extraordinary times, with the State battling a ruthless terrorist outfit not only on the battlefield but also in the field of propaganda. No country fighting a terrorist group can claim to have a 100 per cent perfect human rights record as civilian liberties are affected to some extent in such an environment.

But it is incumbent upon the State to preserve and protect human rights to the greatest possible extent and probe any rights violations swiftly.

These are just the steps the Government is taking. There should also be no hesitation on the part of the authorities to admit any shortcomings in these processes. The Prime Minister has expressed regret for transporting Tamil-speaking lodgers to Vavuniya.

Similarly, the authorities have taken cognisance of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons’ Interim Report, which criticised some aspects of the Presidential Commission probing several high-profile cases of rights violations.

President Rajapaksa has also set up a 24-hour unit to deal with complaints on abductions and disappearances.

Special attention is being paid to catch the killers of the two Red Cross workers whose bodies were found recently in Ratnapura, as explained by the President to top Red Cross officials in Geneva.

Security Forces and Police personnel serving in operational and non-operational areas are also being educated on the importance of protecting fundamental rights.

The Human Rights Commission has started a pilot project for inculcating the concept of human rights among schoolchildren, our future leaders.

It is only through such an all-encompassing programme that we can ensure a society which upholds and protects human rights.

Computer literacy: Overcoming the Challenges

COMPUTER literacy and English language skills are necessary to build a competent employee required by the corporate sector. However this competency is absent in many educated youth. This is in spite of increased Government and parental spending.

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The business of education

POOR parents see education as an indispensable asset and are willing to make enormous sacrifices to educate their children. But the government has let down the poor in spite of the Constitutional guarantee of right to education. Its supplies have not corresponded with the explosive demand for education today.

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Accessibility - Whose responsibility is this?

Politicians, decision makers, business leaders and other professionals are aware that Sri Lanka can no longer afford to waste the precious innate human potential and also the increase in number of unwanted dependants. ‘Designing for inclusion’ is the effective way to arrest these colossal wastes and make everyone ‘meaningful equal partners’ in development.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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