Deputy Speaker MP Thilanga Sumathipala and HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama, HRCSL Commissioners Dr. U. Vidanapathirana and Gazzali Hussein, Assistant Secretary General of Parliament Tikiri K Jayathileka, National Project Coordinator- UNDP Thanuja Navaratne, HRCSL Commissioners Ambika Satkunanathan and Saliya Peiris; behind them is facilitator W.A.C.R. Peiris and HRCSL Education Officer K. Vilvaraj along with the participant MPs.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL)in partnership with Parliament of Sri Lanka, held a residential Study Conference on Human Rights for Members of Parliament at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya on 29 May supported by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNICEF ( United Nations Children’s Fund), OHCHR ( United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights) & UNHCR ( United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) under the United Nations Joint Programme on Human Rights. 29 Members of Parliament attended the Study Conference at which the Guest of Honour was the Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
The purpose of this Study Conference was to provide the Members of Parliament a better knowledge on the subject of Human Rights, considering the very important role they are entrusted with in promotion and protection of Human Rights of citizens in the country.
This Human Rights Study Conference for Members of Parliament was initiated as a result of the request of Members of Parliament themselves. Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) in collaboration with Parliament held a one day study conference for Members of Parliament inside Parliament on 4 December 2012, which was followed up with a discussion on the subject among Members of Parliament, HRCSL Commissioners and heads of UN agencies the same evening at Waters’ Edge Hotel. During these 2 sessions taken together attended by more than 90 Members of Parliament, basic lectures and discussions were conducted on Human Rights subjects and themes.
During these 2 sessions in 2012, a request was made by Members of Parliament to conduct a more detailed study conference on HR, by way of a residential workshop for MPs who are committed and are seeking to obtain a more in depth knowledge on the subjects connected to Human Rights .
The Residential Study Conference on Human Rights held on 29 May 2016 in NuwaraEliya was a result of this request. The Parliament Secretariat, HRCSL Commissioners and UNDP officials worked together guided and supported throughout by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, to complete this Conference on 29th May 2016, which was described by participating Members of Parliament as “informative, practical, useful and successful”.
The subjects and themes covered at the Study Conference included: Evolution of Human Rights Principles and Basic International HR Instruments, The Connection Between International Human Rights Law and the Sri Lankan Legal System, The Reporting Process to UN Bodies- Why and How?, Sri Lanka’s International HR Obligations and The Role of Parliamentarians, Caucuses and Parliamentary Committees to Enhance Effectiveness of Human Rights Oversight of Parliament and Sustainable Development Goals.
The subjects were covered by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament ThilangaSumathipala, Chairperson of HRCSL Dr. DeepikaUdagama , Commissioners of the HRCSL SaliyaPeiris and Ambika Satkunanathan , Political Science Dep of University of Peradeniya Prof. Navaratne Bandara and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawala .
All the Members of Parliament who attended the Study Conference were very attentive and keen on acquiring knowledge and enthusiastically interacted in the question and answer sessions requesting clarifications as well as sharing their knowledge. The Study Conference was very much an interactive experience and most participating Members of Parliament made requests for continuation of workshops on Human Rights, which will afford them practical knowledge on the subject. The Conference was mostly focused on ascertaining the connection between the day to day functions of a Member of Parliament and promotion and protection of Human Rights of the citizens of the country.