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Stop Child Cruelty Trust launches project to protect children

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Encourages children to reflect on their welfare via National Art and Speech Competition

Taking a novel approach to commemorate Children’s Day, Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SCC) recently launched the ‘#JustANumber Child Protection Month’ to increase awareness of the fundamental rights of children through various public programmes. One of the key objectives of this advocacy campaign is to compel the Parliament to change the Penal Code on Cruelty to Children, especially following the Supreme Court’s recognition of corporal punishment of children by schools as unlawful and a violation of a child’s right. To bolster this purpose, SCC will also join hands with like-minded Civil Society Organisations and Non-Governmental Organizations to form Sri Lanka’s first ever Child Protection Alliance.

The highlight of the virtual event was the introduction of the first initiative taken under the #JustANumber Child Protection Month – a National Art and Speech Competition. The competition aims to create a platform for children as young as 6 years up to 18 years to share their own, unique perspective on the country’s child protection crisis and encourage them to directly get involved in the decision making related to their welfare. For more details regarding the competition, please visit www.facebook.com/groups/211381800981039.

Commenting on the purpose behind the #JustANumber Child Protection Month was Chairperson of Stop Child Cruelty Trust, Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka. “Even with the unprecedented rise in child abuse on our paradise island, the relevant authorities appear to be crippled in their efforts to protect and promote our children’s rights. Child protection is a collective social responsibility and Stop Child Cruelty is fully committed to becoming the powerful force behind increasing knowledge and engagement to empower Sri Lankans across the country to recognise the child as a rights holder.”

During the past year, five children had been physically and sexually abused and killed in Sri Lanka. Despite having signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) three decades ago and being the only South Asian country committed to Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to end violence against children, the country still lacks a national child protection framework.

Addressing the event as the Chief Guest was former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga – a pioneering figure in implementing child protection legislation in the country. After signing the UNCRC in 1991, she authorised amendments to the Penal Code 308A Cruelty to Children in 1996, established the Child Protection Authority in 1998, and approved the Ministry of Education Circular 17/2005 to ban corporal punishment in schools in 2005.

While reflecting on the tremendous achievements of the special Child Protection Task Force of experts during her tenure, Mrs Kumaratunga reiterated that Government authorities should resolve the child protection crisis effectively without politicising matters by working cohesively with Non-Governmental Organizations. “Child protection is the ultimate measurement of the level of civilization in a society and I applaud the efforts of Stop Child Cruelty Trust in establishing the Child Protection Alliance to find solutions to the current child protection crisis in Sri Lanka,” she stated. Mrs Kumaratunga will also be the judge of the National Art and Speech Competition.

Professor Savithri Goonesekere, Emeritus Professor of Law and former Vice Chancellor at the University of Colombo was the keynote speaker at the event. As a former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, Prof. Goonesekere has been actively contributing towards legal and policy child protection reforms. “Strengthening law enforcement by rejecting the proverbial rhetoric by relevant authorities and responding to child cruelty by engaging with children is a creative strategy and perhaps the one effective way to address Sri Lanka’s child protection crisis”, she said.

The #JustANumber Child Protection Month will be hosting a range of events including a series of online forums that will take place every weekend from the 1st of October until the 20th of November 2021. To stay updated regarding the upcoming activities under the campaign and other events, visit www.facebook.com/stopchildcruelty. Those interested in getting involved towards the protection of children in Sri Lanka can visit www.stopchildcruelty.com or email info@stopchildcruelty.com.



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Two-year reconciliation project spurns Lord Naseby’s disclosure

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EU, Germany funded scheme costs Rs. 8 mn

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Peace Council (NPC) says war-related matters hadn’t been discussed at the nearly two-year-long reconciliation project that brought together students from Eastern, Jaffna, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa Universities.

More than 160 students have participated in the project that culminated with a conference on the theme of ‘Plural Sri Lanka: Paths to reconciliation.’ Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris delivered the closing address and responded to questions from the audience.

Pointing out that post-war reconciliation efforts had been badly hampered by allegations that the Sri Lankan military killed over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, The Island sought clarification as regards measures taken by the NPC to improve relations among the communities, and the following questions were raised:

The Island:

During your two-year long project did participants discuss specific war crimes allegations and disclosure made in the House of Lords in Oct 2017 that contradicted unsubstantiated accusations pertaining to 40,000 civilian deaths.

Executive Director NPC Dr. Jehan Perera:

“No, we did not discuss these war-related matters. The project was titled “Creative Youth Engagement for Pluralism” and it focused on the nature of Sri Lanka as a plural society and the value framework that should guide it.  The research papers highlighted the diversity within Sri Lankan society that goes beyond ethnicity and religion.  They included topics such as “Attitudes of Society on Education and Transsexuality: A Comparative Study on the Ideologies of a Community with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Education,” and “Pluralism and University Subculture: An Ethnological Study on Young Behavior towards Social Cohesion,” and “An Investigative Study of the Challenges Posed by the Changes in the Aboriginal Society.”

The Island:

What is the total cost of the project?

The NPC

: Rs 8 million was spent to train and mentor the writers of the 30 research publications in four universities, translate, review and publish their findings in book form and for the conference which brought the students to Colombo.

Question 3:

What is the GoSL’s contribution?

The NPC:

There was no direct financial support by the government. Four state universities supported through their faculty members and students.

The Island: What is the NPC’s stand on accountability resolution and announcement made in Geneva that the Sri Lankan military would be subjected to a fresh inquiry?

The NPC:

In order to get out of these allegations, there is a need for a credible and independent investigation. Our preference is for a national mechanism that is acceptable to all sides.  Accountability will need to be a part of the reconciliation process.  NPC favours the restorative justice approach which focuses on ensuring justice to victims. This includes an acknowledgement of wrongs done and reparations and institutional reform to ensure that there is non-recurrence. 

 The Island: Are you also engaged in post-war reconciliation projects funded by Norway?

The NPC:

NPC hasn’t obtained funds from Norway for the past five years.

The recently concluded project has been funded by a project called Strengthening Reconciliation Process here jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellsschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government.

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Speaker promises to appoint bi-partisan committee to look into incidents in Parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced in Parliament yesterday (06) that a committee consisting of senior members from the Government and Opposition would be appointed within the week to look into the incidents that took place in Parliament last Friday and Saturday and submit a report.

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High Court Trial-at-Bar orders release of several accused from 11 charges in CB bond auction case

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By AJA Abeynayake

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered the release of several accused, including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke and former Central Bank former Governor Arjuna Mahendra, from 11 charges out of 22 in connection with the Central Bank bond auction held on 31 March, 2016.

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar held that public property charges against the accused could not be maintained. Indictments had been filed against Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd (PTL), former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke, CBSL former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief dealer Kasun Palisena, Chairman of PTL Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa and Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara in connection with bond auction held on March 31, 2016.

The case against seventh accused Ranjan Hulugalle was dismissed on preliminary objections raised.

President’s Counsel Anil Silva, Counsel Asela Serasinghe, Hafeel Farisz, Sahan Kulatunga and Vishwaka Peiris appeared for the seventh accused.

The Attorney General’s stance regarding the future cause of action to be informed on 26 Jan. 2022.

The Attorney General had alleged that the PTL had been using the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to alter the final outcome of the Treasury bond auction and it had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle; the systematic conduct of the offences related to the fraud and had caused injustice to other primary sellers in the bond market, and the PTL had acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the government.

The case was postponed until 26 Jan. 2022.

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