Commonwealth Secy-Gen meets Sri Lanka’s HRC delegation
“The goal of the Commonwealth’s partnership with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is to support Sri Lanka’s national efforts and plans to provide access for all its citizens to a life of dignity and opportunity in keeping with the values of the Commonwealth” – Sharma
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma received the Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Justice Priyantha R P Perera, and his delegation at Marlborough House yesterday.
The group is in London to take part in a Commonwealth roundtable on reconciliation, being held at the Commonwealth Secretariat from 1 to 3 May. The roundtable is enabling several Commonwealth member countries that have sought peace and reconciliation after conflict and had to deal with the attendant challenges of such a process to share experiences. Other national human rights institutions taking part are those of Kenya, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka delegation includes Commissioner Prathiba Sri Warna Mahanamahewa; the Regional Coordinator for Jaffna, Thangavel Kanagaraj; the Regional Coordinator for Vavunija, Malalaratnage Rohitha Priyadharshana; and the Regional Coordinator for Batticaloa, Abdul Careem Abdul Azeez.
In his meeting with the Sri Lankan delegation, the Commonwealth Secretary-General focused discussions on the Commonwealth’s plans to support the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in achieving specific targets that the Secretary-General had identified in his statementissued at the conclusion of his last visit to Sri Lanka in February, and contact with the Human Rights Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat thereafter. The goal of the Commonwealth’s partnership with the Commission is to support Sri Lanka’s national efforts and plans to provide access for all its citizens to a life of dignity and opportunity in keeping with the values of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka have agreed on two immediate areas of technical assistance, which are expected to be carried out over the next three to six months. This will entail strengthening the capacity of the Commission on effective use of national inquiries as a means of human rights protection, and on its role in taking forward an agenda aimed at national reconciliation.
Commonwealth Secretariat technical assistance in the above-mentioned areas is part of strengthening the effectiveness and authority of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. This will ultimately work towards helping the Commission regain its ‘A status’ accreditation with the UN International Coordinating Committee for national human rights protection mechanisms. This status is accorded to human rights institutions that comply fully with the Paris Principles, the international standards for these institutions.
Also discussed were remaining challenges of land resettlement of people who had been displaced by conflict; reconciliation efforts linked to Sri Lanka’s trilingual policy of Sinhala, Tamil and English; and the importance of an effective grievance reporting system.