The Human Rights Defenders act as the voice of vulnerable person or group or community to ensure universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) has to perform as a defender of HRDs. HRCSL has serious concern for the protection of the HRDs. For this purpose the HRCSL developed a guideline for the state authorities.
Thereby, the Commission held island wide discussions with number of civil societies in relation to strengthening the said drafted HRDs guideline. As a milestone, on 20th January, at the inaugural HRCSL meeting with the civil society committee for the year 2015 the commission presented the drafted human rights defenders’ guideline to be presented to civil society representatives. As a suggestion made during the said meeting it was decided that the commission will take measures to hold Meetings Island wide along with the HRCSL Regional Offices in order to promote the drafted HRD guideline.
Protection of the human rights defenders is a corporate responsibility of the state, the civil societies and the international communities. Conversely, the state authorities have a primary responsibility to protect the HRDs and ensure a favourable working environment where HRDs can operate free from any hindrance and insecurity.
On 10th July 2015 the HRCSL with the direct coordination of the HRCSL regional office in Anuradhapura held a meeting with the district civil society representatives in order to discuss the Human Rights Defenders’ Guideline and about further strengthening it. The Commission held another meeting on the 9th July at Vauniya, 10 June at Trincomalee, 27 May Batticaloa and 13th May at Jaffna.
There were a number of valuable comments and suggestions given by the civil society representatives in relation to the steps that should be taken in the future. They also pointed out the possible challenges over human rights issues faced by them.
Further the HRCSL decided to hold a discussion with the state authorities before finalizing the document.
See: The Guideline for Protecting Human Rights Defenders (Sinhala, Tamil and English) – drafted by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.