Sri Lanka, highlighting the programs the unity government has been pursuing to ensure the rights of the children at the 77th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva today, said the island nation is recording “considerable progress” in protecting and promoting the rights of the child.
Delivering the opening statement at the Review of the 5th & 6th Periodic Reports of Sri Lanka to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Monday, the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation Chandrani Senaratne said the Government has been vigorously pursuing programs for the full realization and promotion of the rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols to which Sri Lanka is a party.
“It is a process to which our Government attaches a great degree of importance,” the official said adding that ten multi-sectoral government agencies are responsible for the promotion and protection of child rights and their wellbeing.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child will be reviewing children’s rights in Sri Lanka after 8 years on 15 -16 January.
The official noted that, during the ongoing Constitutional reform process in Sri Lanka, it has been recommended to give constitutional recognition to a series of key provisions pertaining to rights of the child contained in the CRC and its Optional Protocols.
As a result of progressive state policies that have been consistently followed, including the provision of free and universal access to primary and secondary education and access to free health care, Sri Lanka has been recording considerable progress in protecting and promoting the rights of the child, Senaratne said.
She highlighted that over decades Sri Lanka has built a viable child protection system, which covers the entire country with over 1,500 dedicated staff at grass root levels and administrators and the Ministry of Health, with the support from UNICEF and other stakeholders, is implementing a Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan based on evidence-based global interventions.
IN education, Sri Lanka has achieved close to universal participation in primary education and high attendance in secondary education and the child labor situation in the country has significantly improved with only 1% of the estimated child population in the country (age 5 to 17) associated with child Labor.
The Government maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding cases of violence against children and is committed to bring perpetrators to justice as expeditiously as possible, the official said adding that the matters relating to juvenile justice assume high importance in the Government’s program to protect child rights.
“As a country that is emerging from long-years of conflict, Sri Lanka is also in the process of taking special measures to normalize the lives of children affected by conflict and guarantee to them the rights enjoyed by the rest of the child population,” Secretary Senaratne said.
Highlighting few of the many efforts made and being made by the Government to uphold child rights and implement the provisions of the CRC, the Sri Lankan official said however there are many challenges.
“Of course, our job is far from being completed. We recognize the difficulty of not being able to catch up with challenges that emerge almost on a daily basis such as online safety of children and artificial intelligence replacing humans in the work place, which has direct impact on youth finding their path towards independent living,” she noted.
The official expressed confidence that the recommendations of the CRC will assist the Government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the progressive steps taken so far in the promotion and protection of the rights of all Sri Lankan children.