Draft Legislation HRCSL advice not sought – UN Experts

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By 2017-12-17

The UN Working Group Friday said, they are seriously concerned that there is no institutionalized practice by the authorities to systematically seek the views of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), on draft legislation, despite the clear mandate of the Commission to review legislation as provided for in Section 10 of the HRCSL Act, No.21 of 1996.

The UN Working Group said, the Human Rights Commission should be able to access a wide variety of places of deprivation of liberty without hindrance from the authorities, including for unannounced visits.

The UN experts urged the Government to ensure that the advice of the Human Rights Commission is sought on draft legislation, allowing it an opportunity to provide comments and engage in a constructive dialogue with the Commission concerning its recommendations.

Furthermore, the group noted that the HRCSL is understaffed and its funding and recruitment processes seem cumbersome.

The independence and financial autonomy of the Human Rights Commission is essential for the effective discharge of its functions and it is the duty of the Government to ensure...... that this is preserved. The Human Rights Commission will be designated as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) for Sri Lanka in accordance with the terms, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The Working Group was pleased to learn that the Government sought the views of the Human Rights Commission prior to its designation as the NPM and notes that the Commission agreed to undertake this role. However, the Human Rights Commission is likely to require further resources, both financial and human, to enable it to effectively discharge the NPM mandate as it is already overstretched in its ability to implement its current mandate. The Working Group also urged the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that such adequate additional resources, both in terms of the personnel and financial allocation, are allocated to the Human Rights Commission so as to enable it to discharge its NPM functions effectively.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention conducted its official country visit to Sri Lanka from 4 to 15 December 2017.

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