- Stop Child Cruelty Trust submitted to the UNHRC, 42nd session of Universal Periodic Review, urging the International Community to hold the GOSL accountable to fulfil its obligations to protect our children
Child protection is a national crisis in Sri Lanka, with over 17 children being physically or sexually abused and murdered in the past 24 months. The relevant authorities have taken little or no action to do anything meaningful to resolve the crisis. Therefore, Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SSC) reached out to the International community to protect and promote the rights of 25% of our citizens, 5.2 million children. SCC, a registered Civil Society Organization committed to child rights submitted a proposal to the 42nd Session of the fourth cycle of the Universal Period Review (UPR) of UNHRC which is scheduled in January/February 2023 in Geneva.
SCC highlighted six key focus areas, which included:
- Failure to implement a National Human Rights Action Plan
- Failure to end corporal punishment in schools and in homes
- Failure to protect the Human Rights Of Children Attending International Schools
- Failure to recognize the child as a rights holder
- Failure to implement the Juvenile Justice System
- Failure of the Police, Probation And Childcare Departments to protect children
Among the ten key recommendations, implementing the historic Supreme Court directive of 2021 to ban corporal punishment unequivocally, concluding the ‘Child Protection and Justice Bill and regularising international schools by the Ministry of Education to provide the same non-discriminatory Constitutional Protection to them.
Dr Tush Wickramanayaka, Founder and Chairperson of Stop Child Cruelty Trust and Co-convener of Sri Lanka’s FIRST Child Protection Alliance speaking about their submission to UNHCR said, “As a nation, we have failed our children. At the conclusion of the third UPR review of Sri Lanka in 2017, The High Commissioner of UNHRC encouraged the State party to achieve concrete results in implementing the National Action Plan on Human Rights. In endorsing the rights of children, the High Commissioner recommended putting an end to corporal punishment in all settings and taking measures to promote positive non-violent forms of discipline and end child labour. However, the emphasis to protect and promote the rights of children has been diminished in the National Action Plan of 2017-2021. The section on the elimination of corporal punishment that was applauded in the Plan from 2011-1016 was removed from the Plan from 2017-2021. As a consequence, the severity of abuse has got worse with children being beaten to death.”
“SCC has made recommendations on ways to reduce and mitigate these atrocities. Our main focus is to end violence against children, especially corporal punishment. We have a multi-pronged sustainable national action plan, the ‘Pentagon Proposal’, we have created advocacy on all issues relating to child rights/legal reforms with National and International authorities. For the first time, we have obtained the signatories in agreement from all party leaders to include child protection to the heart of the National Security Agenda. During a special debate on child protection in Parliament on 8 November 2022, school children delivered an appeal signed by over 5000 citizens to all MP’s #225maona urging the public representatives to prioritize child protection in every political agenda. “
Dr Wickramanayaka has just returned from Geneva where she attended a four-day conference of the Pre-Sessions of the UPR, a platform dedicated to CSO’s of States Under Review in 2023. “It was an amazing experience and a lot of exhausting individual discussions with Permanent Representatives of State parties to present facts and gain support for our children as we were the only dedicated child rights organization from Sri Lanka. With the overwhelming responses, I am confident we can change the path of our country to create an environment without violence for the true beneficiaries of the future, our children. I wish to thank the indefatigable efforts of my team”, declared a jubilant child rights defendant.
Those interested in getting involved in the #Noguti campaign can visit the website at www.stopchildcruelty.com and the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stopchildcruelty or email firstname.lastname@example.org.