Human Rights Commission Bill(Summary) - Sri Lanka

Human Rights Commission Bill(Summary) - Sri Lanka

By James McDonald

(Date: Jan 1996)

Amnesty International has recently issued a seven-page report entitled "Sri Lanka: The Human Rights Commission Bill." A summary of the report follows below. Those interested in obtaining a copy of the report should contact the Amnesty International section in their country; those in the U.S. should contact Amnesty International USA, 322 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10001; Attn: Publications.

A summary of the report follows:

The report sets out Amnesty International's observations on a bill for the establishment of a national Human Rights Commission before parliament in Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International welcomes the establishment of a Human Rights Commission in principle but underlines that its creation, although important, can never replace, nor should it in any way diminish, the safeguards inherent in comprehensive and effective legal structures enforced by an independent, impartial and adequately resourced and accessible judiciary. Amnesty International also believes that such an initiative should be accompanied by a determined government policy aimed at holding the perpetrators of human rights violations fully accountable, thereby ensuring that those who violate human rights cannot do so with impunity.

In Sri Lanka, the creation of a Human Rights Commission should go hand in hand with a thorough review of existing security measures and legal remedies such as fundamental rights and habeas corpus petitions in order to make these more effective instruments of human rights protection.

The document lists a number of concerns about several provisions in the bill which in Amnesty International's view could reduce the Commission's potential effectiveness. Amnesty International is distributing this document widely, including to all members of parliament, thereby hoping to assist discussions - particularly among those professionally or otherwise involved with human rights protection - about this important initiative to strengthen protection of human rights in the country.