Sri Lanka unveils new human rights action plan

Sri Lankan government unveiled its five-year action plan to protect and promote human rights.

Colombo: Amidst international criticism over
its rights record, Sri Lankan government on Thursday unveiled its
five-year action plan to protect and promote human rights.

The `National Action Plan for the Protection of Human
Rights` gets underway with immediate effect, the senior
minister and President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s human rights envoy,
Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

"The action plan was developed through a participatory
process involving both government and civil society partners`"
Samarasinghe said.

Its three fold objectives are the achievement of genuine
and substantive improvements in the protection and promotion
of human rights, promotion of greater awareness and the
promotion of coordination of human rights activity among
diverse stakeholders.

Samarasinghe added that the plan covers civil and
political rights, women`s rights, economic social and cultural
rights, labour rights, rights of migrant workers, the rights
of the internally displaced and the prevention of torture.

"Each of these areas will address laws, policies and
practises that require action," Samarasinghe stressed.
He said all government ministries will coordinate the plan
providing muscle to the local Human Rights Commission.

Samarasinghe headed the government delegation at last
month`s 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council held in

Sri Lanka spent a nervous time at the sessions
entertaining fears of a possible motion condemning the island
nation`s rights record during the last stages of the military
battle with the LTTE as a result of the UN secretary general
Ban Ki Moon`s advisory panel report released in April.

The report called for an independent investigation into
the acts during the last stage of the military battle whilst
blaming both the government and the LTTE for war crimes.
However the session passed without any motion against Sri

Samarasinghe said the action plan would be presented to
all UNHRC member countries at its next session to be held in


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