Thu, 06 Oct 2011 09:18:12 GMT

Sri Lanka unveils new human rights action plan

Colombo, Oct 6 (PTI) Amidst international criticism over its rights record, Sri Lankan government today 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 Geneva.

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 Lanka.

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

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