Report on child rights launched | Daily News


Report on child rights launched

The Save the Children launched a children’s consultation report on child rights in Sri Lanka to mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that was introduced to the world in 1989. Sri Lanka has been a state party to the convention for the last 28 years and this specific consultation was carried out to understand children’s views on the status of their rights today. The report on consultations with young child rights advocates from 24 of the country’s 25 districts and covers child rights from basic health and welfare to civil rights and freedoms.

One twenty eight children in the ages of 11 and 18 from Sinhala and Tamil communities representing all demographics took part in a series of consultations held from October to December 2019 to understand children’s perspectives on the realization of their rights and increase their awareness on the importance of those rights.

The children were given questions on the UNCRC’s reporting clusters and consultations took a child friendly approach, starting with an interactive session introducing the children to definitions, scope and country context to ensure that they were able to provide informed views.

The clusters cover the general measures of implementation; definition of the child; general principles; civil rights and freedoms; violence against children; family environment and alternative care; basic health and welfare; education, leisure and culture; and special protection measures.

Children that while the state had introduced child rights policies, implementation suffered because of lack of human and other resources. They believed that rural areas suffered the most.

Nearly 50 per cent children who were surveyed said they believed that discrimination on ethnicity, religion, disability or socio-economic status did occur. They strongly believed that legal action should be taken against instigators of racism and that discrimination against children of ethnic minorities should be prevented.

“This is one of the most pressing issues in society today. Children suffer because of the problems that adults have about race and religion,” one child said.

Many children in the estate sector felt they were marginalised and discriminated against for being “estate children”, while many felt that those with disabilities were treated unfairly.

Seventy one per cent of children in the surveys said the state had not taken enough measures to prevent violence against them. They believed that there was not enough awareness of child abuse risk factors, forms of child abuse and general awareness among children on how to stay safe and protect themselves.

They said this would empower them to protect themselves and their peers. They said they believed that adults, including parents, should be held accountable for not paying attention to signs of child abuse.

They noted that the media –traditional and social – violated the child’s right to privacy especially when reporting on child abuse. They complained of insensitivity when people post pictures of child victims of violence or abuse on social media. They also called out the traditional media for publishing every single detail of child victim without considering how this would affect the child.

Only 15 per cent of the children believed that the state had taken enough measures to protect children from drug abuse.

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