Activists call for child protection framework, say Sri Lanka lags behind

ECONOMYNEXT – Child protection activists in Sri Lanka called for a national child protection framework on Friday (01), noting that the island is lagging behind in its commitment to protect the rights of the child. child.

This despite the fact that Sri Lanka is the only country in the region to commit to the UN’s 16.2 sustainability goal to end violence against children, activists said at a forum that marked World Children’s Day.

“We must remember that our country and our governments have taken on a sacred obligation to fulfill the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1989,” said Savithri Goonesekere, professor emeritus of law and former vice-chancellor of the University of Colombo. . the forum organized by the Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SCCT).

“They have a duty to guarantee the rights of the child and the protection of the child receives adequate attention,” Goonesekere said in his opening speech.

Although Sri Lanka has been largely successful in providing free education and health care for children, the country still has a long way to go in terms of child protection.

“We need to go further in the area of ​​child protection. Since these are binding obligations, the state has duties and children have rights.

The forum also saw the launch of “Child Protection Month #JustANumber” to increase awareness of children’s human rights through various public programs.

One of the main objectives of this advocacy campaign is to compel parliament to amend the provisions of Sri Lanka’s Criminal Code on cruelty to children, following the recent Supreme Court recognition of corporal punishment inflicted on children. children by schools as illegal and a violation of children’s rights.

SCCT will join with other civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to form Sri Lanka’s first-ever Child Protection Alliance, according to a statement.

The forum noted that in the past year five children have been physically and sexually assaulted to death in Sri Lanka.

Goonesekere is also a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo and a former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children.

She was joined by former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and SCCT President Tush Wickramanayaka.

Sri Lanka signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989 and is the only country in South Asia to have committed to Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to end the violence against children.

However, forum speakers said the country still lacks a national child protection framework.

Former President Kumaratunga said the authorities should effectively address the child protection crisis without politicizing the issues by working consistently with NGOs.

“Child welfare is the ultimate measure of the level of civilization in a society and I applaud the efforts of the Stop Child Cruelty Trust to establish the Child Welfare Alliance to find solutions to the current crisis. of child protection in Sri Lanka, ”she said.

As part of Child Protection Month #JustANumber, SSCT will be hosting a series of events that will take place every weekend from October 1 to November 20.

SCCT President Wickramanayaka said, “Even with the unprecedented increase in child abuse on our island, the relevant authorities appear to be paralyzed in their efforts to protect and promote the rights of our children.

“Child protection is a collective social responsibility and Stop Child Cruelty is fully committed to becoming the powerful force behind increasing knowledge and commitment to enable Sri Lankans across the country to recognize the child. as a rights holder. “

SSCT also organized a national art and speech competition on the child protection crisis in the country. Children from 6 to 18 years old can participate.

For more details about the contest, visit www.facebook.com/groups/211381800981039. (Colombo / Oct02 / 2021)


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