Commonwealth human rights experts are supporting the Parliament of Sri Lanka in drafting a new fundamental rights chapter for the country’s proposed new Constitution.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the Parliament, convened a dialogue last week for members of the Constitutional Assembly to engage with international experts on global best practice in constitutional human rights.
The Constitutional Assembly, consisting of all 225 members of Parliament, began its work in April 2016 with the objective of preparing a new Draft Constitution for Sri Lanka.
Under the Constitutional Assembly, several sub-committees were formed, including the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights. This sub-committee was mandated to assist in drafting a chapter on human rights which will enshrine into law strengthened protections for all Sri Lankans.
Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights and the Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, said he appreciated the assistance received from the Commonwealth Secretariat.
“At my request, the Secretariat has facilitated the visit of three erudite and distinguished experts in the field of constitutional protection of human rights. Their knowledge and experience has enriched the discourse surrounding the constitutional reform process,” he said.
“We are receptive to the experience of others in order to develop, refine and enhance our own efforts in developing a new constitutional instrument for Sri Lanka. I am certain that this ongoing co-operation will continue to be of invaluable assistance to us in this vital national endeavour.”
The experts included Advocate Mikateko Joyce Maluleke, Legal Adviser to the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, South Africa; Professor Diego López-Medina, Professor of Law, Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia; and Professor Imer Flores, Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with the Parliament of Sri Lanka has been longstanding. In February, the Speaker of Parliament hosted a Commonwealth regional seminar for parliamentarians to strengthen their capacities to promote and protect human rights, which led to the adoption of the Kotte Declaration.