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Friday, 26 October 2012






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Children play pivotal role in SL's socio-cultural life – Part II:

SL has passed LEGISLATION PROTECTING children’s rights

Statement by Plantation Industries Minister and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe at the Third Committee 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on promotion and protection of the rights of children on October 18, 2012

Legislation was also passed on a number of areas to strengthen children’s rights and enhance their protection. New laws include the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act No. 34 of 2005 which provides for protection orders to be urgently obtained to safeguard those suffering and at risk of domestic violence, including both women and children and the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children (Amendment) Act No. 8 of 2003.

This Act strengthened child labour laws by increasing the minimum age of employment from 12 to 14 years, and prohibiting the employment of children under 14 while enhancing the sentence for violation of this provision. This is in conformity with the compulsory age of education for children which is 14.

Several other measures have been taken with regard to the prevention and punishment of trafficking in persons and their exploitation. A special focus of these initiatives has been the protection of children. These measures have involved a number of stakeholders including the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the NCPA, the Police and other agencies and offices of government. The Attorney General has also initiated a process of providing legal advice to the Police in the conduct of investigation into alleged violations. The Attorney General’s Department maintains a separate unit called the Prosecution of Child Abuse Offenders Unit to expedite the institution of criminal proceedings against persons accused of having committed all forms of abuse of children.

Children's welfare

A new National Project has been launched by the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Department in partnership with the Police Department to enhance the efficacy of the criminal justice response to child abuse to better protect the rights of children in the country.

The resources for the project are provided by the GoSL and UNICEF. The primary objectives of this project are to expedite the processing and the passage of cases of child abuse through the several phases of the criminal justice system and to prevent secondary victimization of child victims of abuse in consequence of their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe

A secondary objective of the project is to enhance the professionalism in the conduct of criminal and forensic investigations, and the conduct of prosecutions. The project is presently being implemented as a pilot activity in 4 Provinces in the island including the Eastern Province and the Northern Province, the former theatre of conflict.

The implementation of the project is monitored by a National Steering Committee headed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and involves the participation of representatives of the Attorney-General, Inspector General of Police, Chairman of the NCPA, Secretary to the Ministry of Health and a UNICEF representative.

We have, on previous occasions, placed before this Committee and other international forums the sterling record of our achievements in welfare for children: free education, nutrition, preventive health care and child protection. Nevertheless, the government is determined to improve on its record. We have emplaced a national framework for the achievement of these goals. The overarching National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP) has a specific thematic section on children. This is a plan devised as a result of our engagement with the Universal Periodic Review Process, our engagement with treaty bodies and special procedure mechanisms of the UN system.

National policy priorities

Most importantly this plan is a consolidation of government responses and initiatives to implement national policy priorities. Our plan ranges from focusing on health and nutrition, protection of vulnerable children, juvenile justice, children affected by armed conflict, adolescent health and well being, early childhood care and development, education, child labour and alternative care.

It also addresses macro-issues such as discrimination, right to leisure, coordination among stakeholders and duty bearers and constitutional recognition of child rights.

Going forward, we need to build on our considerable successes of the past and ensure that our most precious resource: our children are protected, empowered and equipped to face the future and take ownership and leadership of Sri Lanka’s collective future. Concluded


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