Govt. readies for next UN session with national plan for human rights

- www.ft.lk

Says all national and international agencies will be notified of progress, names eight areas in Cabinet-approved proposal and engages all ministries for implementation  

By Uditha Jayasinghe
Making early contingency plans for the next United Nations General Assembly Meeting, the Government yesterday adopted the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights.

The Sri Lankan Government in May 2008 at its Universal Periodic Review had voluntarily pledged to the UN Human Rights Council to prepare an action plan to protect human rights on various issues in the island nation.
Three years later the Cabinet-approved plan was launched with every Government ministry charged with the task of implementing the action plan. Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is also the Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights, addressing the media said that the Cabinet approved the five-year action plan which will be presented to United Nations in March and other international forums, countries and INGOS.
“This will prove that the Government has a political commitment to protect human rights,” Minister insisted, adding that the monitoring of the plan would be done centrally.
“There are many Government ministries, departments and agencies that cover different aspects of human rights. For example, the Department of Immigration, Police, Justice Ministry and so on have different human rights to protect. Therefore, it is not practical for the Government to implement this through one organisation.”   
The action plan has three main objectives – to improve the protection of human rights, create awareness about human rights and promote and coordinate human rights activities among diverse stakeholders.
The Minister said the action plan had been divided into nine thematic areas including civil and political rights, women’s rights, rights of migrant workers, rights of Internally Displaced Persons and prevention of torture, which would be handled by various ministries relevant to the subjects.
“I will take this to the UNHRC and the Human Rights Council. Progress will be reported to the UN General Meeting as well as a host of other agencies and governments – anywhere there are organisations that are concerned about the human rights of Sri Lanka.”
The international community, including the European Union, NGOs and INGOs along with other UN agencies, will be notified of the action plan’s progress. “We want to ensure that this get maximum publicity,” he insisted.
The Government will also present results of the action plan to UN sessions in July and September, which will include the next UNHRC sessions.

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