‘A’ status for human rights commission of Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has been re-accredited with ‘A’ status by Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in recognition of its efforts to promote and protect human rights, Commission Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama said. GANHRI promotes and strengthens National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to be in accordance with the Paris Principles and provides leadership in the promotion and protection of human rights.

GANHRI‘s Sub-Committee on Accreditation which met from May 14-18 in Geneva, Switzerland re-accredited ‘A’ status to HRCSL after a rigorous process of review. ‘A’ status means that the institution is in full compliance with the Paris Principles adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993. The review takes place every five years.

Speaking yesterday, Dr. Udagama said HRCSL had only received ‘B’ status in the previous reviews in 2000, 2007 and 2009. She pointed out that the HRCSL has been working tirelessly over the past several years to win public confidence as an independent body.

“We voiced our concerns even when the matter was politically sensitive. At times, we were criticised due to this reason. We came forward for the rights of socially discriminated groups, prisoners and women. We strongly recommended the Government to establish the Office of Missing Persons (OMP). We have taken a keen interest on economic and social rights of the people,” she said highlighting the performance of the Commission over the past years.

The Paris Principles set out six main criteria for NHRIs and they include having a broad mandate, based on universal human rights norms and standards, autonomy from Government, independence guaranteed by statute or Constitution, pluralism, adequate resources and adequate powers of investigation.

The institutions that receive the ‘A’ status can participate fully in the international and regional work and have voting power. They are also able to participate in sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and take the floor under any agenda item, submit documentation and take up separate seating. HRCSL Commissioner Ambika Satkunanathan in a Tweet in her account said, “Grateful our hard work has been recognized and rewarded”. UNICEF SriLanka Child Protection Manager Ramiz Behbudov reacting to the Tweet said, “Great news for SriLanka. This will allow UNICEF to further enhance our partnership with the HRC SL to advance child rights monitoring in the country. We thank HRCSL Commissioners for their unyielding determination, principled position and positive optimism for getting the HRC to this point”Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Mahishini Colonne congratulating the HRCSL said, “So proud of the Commission’s remarkable work. Wish the Commission more strength, power and wisdom to keep on working for the rights of all Sri Lankans”.