The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its findings on children’s rights in Sri Lanka, which it reviewed along with seven other countries during it meeting in Geneva from 15 January to 2 February.
The findings cover how the respective State is doing with regard to children’s rights, detailing positive developments, main areas of concern, and recommendations for action. The findings, officially known as concluding observations.
The Committee, which is composed of 18 independent experts, monitors how States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are complying with their obligations. The review on Sri Lanka was held at Palais Wilson in Geneva, on 15 -16 January.
In its Concluding observations on the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Sri Lanka, the Committee recommended for Sri Lanka to take urgent measures in areas of violence to children, including corporal punishment, sexual exploitation and abuse, economic exploitation including child labor, administration of juvenile justice, and reconciliation, truth and justice.
The Committee expressing deep concern that high numbers of children are subjected to abuse and violence, including corporal punishment, which remains legal in the home, in alternative care settings, in penal institutions, as well as in schools, called on the government to prohibit corporal punishment however light, in all settings, unequivocally by law and without any further delay.
The Committee further called on the government to repeal any legal defense, and ensure that these laws are effectively implemented and that legal proceedings are systematically initiated upon their breach.
The Committee said despite noting the efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, it is gravely concerned about the high number of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children including in alternative care institutions, religious institutions, the community and the home, child prostitution and online child sexual exploitation and abuse, including child pornography, which are furthermore frequently met with impunity.
The Committee urged the State party to develop an effective and comprehensive policy for preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, including through child pornography, and for promoting the recovery and social reintegration of child victims, taking into consideration the root causes that place children at risk.
While noting the efforts undertaken by Sri Lanka to eliminate child labor, the Committee noted that a considerable number of children are economically active, including as street vendors, in domestic service and many other work, and that children are reportedly trafficked to be forced into domestic work urged the government to further strengthen and implement existing legislation.
The Committee expressing concern on Sri Lanka’s slow progress in implementing its commitments under the Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 concerning the truth, justice and reconciliation processes for the violations during the armed conflict, urged the government to implement those commitments in an effective and timely manner, while ensuring that children, and those who were children at the time, be given a voice in national reconciliation and transitional justice processes and be supported as victims, witnesses or claimants.