Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, said revisions to the existing Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, which contains five recommendations, had been submitted to the President as well as the Minister of Justice for their perusal, two weeks ago.
The recommendations submitted for the reversal of Section 15 of the Human Rights Act specifies the Human Rights Commission should be endowed with the power to enact recommendations when an individual’s rights are violated upon submitting them to the High Court or Appeals Court; Power to enact interim orders; Ability to conduct investigations into matters of national concern; Authority to issue warrants bearing the signature of the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission in the face of warrants being ignored by individuals.
The Commissioner of the Human Rights Council should be able to intervene in a Court case, if reasonable doubt is cast that human rights are violated during a trial (especially in a criminal tribunal).
Dr. Mahanamahewa noted the island’s Human Rights Act No. 26 of 1996 was obsolete.
“There are 58 human rights commissions strewn throughout the Asia Pacific Region. Sri Lanka is a member State of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Forum. The quality of our human rights should commensurate with these standards. According to Chapter IV of the 1978 Constitution, all government servants must ensure the human rights of the citizens as well as defending them and promoting them. But, these have not been practically enacted. The recommendations submitted by us will legally fortify this Chapter,” Dr. Mahanamahewa told Ceylon Today.
He also said the proposed revisions solely contain the recommendations of the HRCSL and not that of any other institution or body.
These recommendations, according to the Commissioner, have been brought forth following extensive discussions with all relevant stakeholders.
He also said the recommendations were not submitted targeting March 2014 sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, but added that these recommendations would be advantageous to Sri Lanka, especially during the upcoming UNHRC sessions