All posts by Outreach Unit

MEDIA BRIEFING citizen participation in the Constitution making process

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  • All should be able to think of it as ‘Our Constitution’- Lionel Guruge
  • Media has a crucial role to play spreading awareness on process- SG Punchihewa
  • A historic and decisive moment to ensure the country gets the Constitution it deserves- Dr Saravanamuttu
  • CSO role to educate the citizen on how to engage
  • Current constitution cannot protect people or help them reconcile- Lal Wijenayake

A CSO collective called the Citizens’ Initiative for Constitutional Change(CICC) organised a press conference on 12 January in Colombo, to give publicity to the process of collecting citizen input to feed into the government’s current constitution-making exercise.

Speakers at the press conference included Attorney at Law and Chairman of the Public Representation Commission, Lal Wijenayake, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi, Human Rights Activist S.G.Punchihewa, Women and Media Collective Coordinator, Kumudini Samuel, Rights Now Executive Director Attorney-at-law Sudarshana Gunawardana, as well as the Transparency International Senior Manager, Shan Wijetunge. CPA Senior Researcher, in charge of its Outreach Programs, Lionel Guruge chaired the briefing.

Guruge urged the media to give maximum coverage to the process of facilitating citizen participation in constitutional reform and said it was most important that all citizens of the country, Sinhala, Tamil Muslim, young and old, and all minorities are be able to think of it as “Our Constitution.” It was important for detractors and diverse opinions to be given a voice, too, but the process should not be disturbed by them.

CPA Executive Director Dr Saravanamuttu said that CPA and similar organisations of the CICC had been committed to constitutional reform for over a decade, and it was now a historic and decisive moment to ensure that the country gets the constitution it deserves. Since the political developments of 2015 it remains to bridge the democratic deficit by addressing the areas that require reform, particularly abolishing the Executive presidency and devolving executive power among the Cabinet and Parliament, bringing about a new electoral system, and constitutional settlement of the national question which remains at the heart of this country,  as a functioning democracy, which accommodates and answers to the grievances and aspirations of all of its people .

Dr Saravanamuttu gave the example of the constitution making process in South Africa which was inclusive to such an extent that poor villagers were able to voice their concern about their cattle being stolen– leading to a guarantee of the right to private property for citizens, being included in the constitution. “Every citizen should be encouraged to come forward and contribute,” he stressed adding that the purpose of the Citizens Initiative  was to take this awareness as far as possible and make the case for a  new constitution, as well as to educate citizens on the structure of the state , the executive and overall framework of the process so that their submissions are focused, direct and deal with the principal concerns of the country. It was important to ensure that as many people as possible participated in this exercise.”This is a chance to be a part of decision making in terms of the supreme law of the land. Proactive participation in the constitution making process will ensure that we are full fledged citizens in a functioning democracy.”

Media has at times been good at causing controversy, retorting or stirring dissent, but now it has a chance to play a vital and positive role and make a real difference in the future of the country, according to human rights activist, author and attorney-at-law S.G Punchihewa who spoke about specific provisions in the constitution that had been identified as requiring strengthening. These included the sections on human rights, the five paragraphs on fundamental rights and different aspects of the 13th Amendment. Punchihewa discussed the requirement to include “Right to life,” in the Constitution. Broader interpretation is required, as in India where this covers air, food , water and environment with recourse. It is important also to strengthen the Human Rights Commission by reinforcing its powers, he stressed. Language equality was another matter which needed to be unconditionally emphasised.

Transparency International Senior Manager Shan Wijetunge opined that “this is the best opportunity, not to be missed, that we have ever had to join together and be part of this historical process, as the current government is only in power for 2 years. In South Africa, for example, millions of suggestions were received.” Wijetunge outlined four main categories of provisions that were under discussion, including the reform of the Executive Presidency, fundamental rights, power sharing, and electoral system reform, and said that they were ready to present recommendations to the government including such suggestions as:abolishing the Executive presidency, limiting the cabinet to 25 members, scientific categorisation of ministerial portfolios, having a fixed election calendar, holding LG and PC elections together to save on expenditure,setting a ceiling to the election expenditure on election campaigns.

PAFFREL ED Rohan Hettiarachchi spoke on the much debated subject of electoral reforms, including women’s representation and stressed that a simple election system is needed which does not squander the country’s assets- approximately Rs 4000 million of public funds were spent on each election(by the Elections Department alone). Furthermore there should be a system of ensuring that all can vote, eg doctors, or prisoners, as was the case in Afghanistan where ‘mobile voting’ is available, although it cannot be said that their democracy was more advanced than in Sri lanka . He recognised that there was a very small time period to get a lot of work done and said “we must all try our best.”


Women and Media Collective Coordinator Kumudini Samuel spoke about the need to strengthen women’s rights through the constitution, and a more effective legal system, with a broader focus being placed on socio economic rights, the right to livelihood, right to housing, food, and health.  She also advocated for an Independent Women’s Commission and enforcing political rights for women.

Attorney-at-Law and Chairman of the Public Representation Commission Lal Wijenayake said that CPA and a number of other CSOs have been requesting that the constitution making process is not limited to parliament but should be with maximum public participation. “There are mechanisms in place but is there enough time?the people are eager and enthusiastic to engage. ”he said adding that a newspaper advertisement in three languages had been issued on 12 January to invite the participation of the people, to a large scale program from 18 -22 in Colombo at Visumpaya at 9.30 a.m, which was for the purpose of gathering public input. In the rest of the country, the District Secretariats  are organising such venues, and are to give notice at least a week prior to the events, although media has a very important role to play in increasing awareness on the exercise.

He said that the questions people asked were “why do we need a (new) constitution ?” and “Isn’t the existing one enough ?” and he pointed out that in the last few years, people had been on their knees, and Government Servants had been tied to trees , as the existing constitution was not able to protect them, and even 6 or 7 years after a protracted war, it had not been able to help the people of Sri Lanka reconcile. “ My duty now is to listen, rather than speak” he said in closing.

Rights Now Executive Director Sudarshana Gunewardana said that nation building usually starts after independence but the process of bringing people together as one nation  has not been a success in Sri Lanka as evident from both the insurrection in the South by rural youth and the 30 year war in the North which were caused by people not feeling as though they were part of this nation. Finally it was now an opportunity to collect everyone’s views and make a completely new “agreement” that respected the needs of everyone.

A media representative questioned as to how the challenge of language barriers would be overcome in this process and CPA Senior researcher Lionel Guruge assured that every measure would be taken to ensure that required translations would be provided in the field work of the Citizens Initiative, which was making arrangements to provide simplified translated primers.

Further media questions were answered and a CPA publication titled “ Why do We Need a Constitution?” was distributed to attendees. This press conference was the latest in a series of events held by CPA bringing awareness to the process of garnering citizen engagement in the current Constitution drafting process.

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By pooling in the resources of all organisations involved in the CICC, the Initiative aims to conduct broad scale workshops across the country to raise awareness on the governments’ proceedings with regard to the Constitution process, as well as encourage and identify recommendations of the public for the new Constitution. As the government declared the establishment of a Public Representation Commission entrusted with the task of compiling public submissions, the CICC at its various workshops will encourage citizens to contribute to this Commission. Parallel to this Initiative, a youth campaign titled ‘My Constitution; A Youth Movement for a New Sri Lankan Constitution’ has also been launched and aims to encourage youth populations to contribute to the new Constitution process.

More information about the citizen initiative is available from ciccinitiative@gmail.com or lionel@cpalanka.org

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Introduction to Programme on Citizen Participation in Constitution Making

Outreach CPA hosted a meeting for Civil Society to introduce its Programme on Citizen Participation in Constitution Making, 13th October, at the OPA, Colombo.

Senior Researcher from CPA Outreach, Lionel Guruge introduced attendees to the objectives of the proposed programme, which are mainly to ensure that citizen recommendations and aspirations were included in the formulation of a new Sri Lankan Constitution. This had not been the case in the formulation of the previous Constitution and its amendments.

CPA Executive Director, Dr Saravanamuttu emphasised the responsibility that civil society bears to ensure that the Constitution reflects people’s aspirations and needs. Speaking on the actions of previous governments, he stated that when good governance was spoken of people laughed; when eradication of corruption was mentioned people stated that ‘this was Sri Lanka’. However today, these have been included into the spectrum of public policy. He further stated that we, as civil society, must not forget that it was us who included these actions into public policy, and it will be incumbent upon us to participate in the making of the supreme law of the land.

Human rights activist SG Punchihewa emphasised that in making a new Constitution, civil society must be sensitive to various factors such as the ambiguity of laws in the Constitution which subsequently lead to ambiguous implementation of laws. He stated that this was the case in the section of the current Constitution dedicated to Sri Lanka’s obligation to international treaties. He further emphasised the need to preserve and promote language equality in the Constitution.

Parliamentarian and President’s Counsel Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne speaking at the programme  said that a special committee to make recommendations for the preparation of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka has been appointed under the guidance of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He said  that Officials of the Legal Draftsman Department, intellectuals from the legal sector, parliamentary officials and representatives are included in the committee. He added that no final decision has been made by the government on how they may proceed with this initiative; yet a number of options are being discussed, including the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to oversee the process, or the Parliament adopting a ‘whole-house’ approach i.e. the whole Parliament acting as one body for the purpose of drafting the new Constitution. Dr. Wickramarathne further stated that currently there hasn’t been a discussion on a Constitution making process beyond parliamentary intervention but that the government is very much in favour of a Constitution that includes public participation and that the government-led approach for such an initiative would depend on what option the government decides to take for the drafting of the Constitution.

Attendees of the event included civil society organization representatives, academics, former ministers, legal professionals, media, Trade Union members and University Students. Former Auditor General Mr. Sarath Mayadunne, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Executive Director of PAFFREL Mr. Rohana Hettiarachchi were also among the attendees.

bana-1

A number of suggestions and considerations for the new Constitution were made by the attendees of the event, including;

  • As stipulated in the 13th Amendment, the inclusion of Tamil language as another official language in a separate Article is misleading and unnecessary; therefore to include Sinhala and Tamil as the two official languages of Sri Lanka in one Article
  • To remove any mention of religion from the Constitution and promote a secular Constitution
  • More attention given to the minority Tamil population in the Estate Sector
  • To include the suggestions and representation of minorities such as Burgher, Malay, and Indigenous populations of the country
  • The inclusion of a structured mechanism for the devolution of power including the duties of the Provincial Councils
  • The inclusion of the Right to Life and Right to Health in the new Constitution
  • Inclusion and greater representation of women in the new Constitution – women’s issues to be considered a national issue instead of being isolated as a burden of women alone
  • There was also concern raised regarding the timeline of the government in drafting the new Constitution as many believed one year is not sufficient enough to formulate a truly representative Constitution that includes the aspirations of the public. Other civil society organization representatives stated that a campaign of this scale would be difficult for one organization to conduct in isolation and promoted the suggestion of a concerted effort from all interested civil society organizations so that they may pool in their resources for a successful program. Some were also of the opinion that the government must be proactive in this process so that citizens are given assurance that the government is indeed interested in promoting a representative Constitution.

Press cover of the event can be found at:

http://www.ft.lk/article/483049/CPA-Director-encourages-civil-society-participation-in-constitution-making

http://varunmultimedia.me/videos/btv/vmtube/hiru-news/hiru-news_-13-10-15/play.html?1

http://varunmultimedia.net/videos/btv/vmtube/sirasa-news/news-1st-sinhala_-13-10-15/play.html?1

http://www.rupavahini.lk/main-news/sinhala-news/8677-2015-10-13.html

http://www.news.lk/news/politics/item/10280-pm-appoints-a-committee-to-create-a-new-constitution

http://www.tamilwin.com/show-RUmtzASYSVgo0E.html

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/news-online/special-committee-prepare-new-constitution-appointed-guidance-pm.html

http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=local/cpa-seek-massive-public-participation-formulation-new-constitution

Health Camp for Jayanthipura Citizens

Citizen Councils
Photos from the Jayanthipura Citizen Council event Kantalai September 11th

As part of the work of Citizen Councils in Kantalai it has been identified that the issue of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin(CKDU)  is taking a sizeable toll on the citizens of Jayathipura, Kantalai. More than 50 persons have died in that area alone in the last two years from CKDU.

The Jayanthipura Citizen Council working with a partner organisation of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, the National Collaboration Development Foundation, Kantalai recently organised a One Day Health Clinic to meet families of the affected and citizens of the area to discuss the issue, and the strategy for tackling this, with the kind participation of a number of medical experts.

Held  on 11th September 2015 at Jayanthipura Community Health Centre, Jayanthipura, the clinic provided services for testing of blood and urine, blood pressure and also hosted an eye-camp for donation of reading glasses to needy citizens. A number of doctors, MOH and hospital staff, media personnel and citizen council members participated, including representatives from military authorities who supported the free services clinic.

Key volunteer participants included MOH personnel, Dr Costa and Dr Shermila and Dr Bandara Seniviratne from Aranaganwilla, Mr. Terrence Gamini, Head of the Anuradhapura Protection Foundation, optician Dr Charith,  and Kidney Disease expert Dr Rajiv Dissanayake (Anuradhapura KPF). Ven Prof Pallegama Sirinivasa Himi, Chief Incumbent of the Jayanthipura Viharaya and Brigadier Kamal Pinnawala of the 222 Jayanthigama Brigade extended their blessing and support to the camp and Chairperson Ajith, and Jayatissa of the Jayanthipura Citizen Council, are among the many who contributed to the success of the clinic. The Lions Club of 306 donated 100 sets of eyeglasses and an OPD clinic was held for almost 200 citizens of the area.

The Jayanthipura Citizen Council kindly offered midday snacks for all participants and CPA helped to facilitate the event.

ADDRESSING Civil Rights in the Estate Sector

address Their hard labour powers the multimillion dollar industry that is Sri Lankan tea. But the estate sector workers including those of the Badulla district are still some of the poorest, most marginalised people in Sri Lanka. Fostered by a system that does not want to let go its hold on cheap labour,  conditions in the estate sector of the Uva Province have remained almost unchanged by recent post war development drives. Exemplifying the administrative neglect of these communities is the fact that many plantation sector workers have never had a permanent contact address to their name.

Meet Kamala*.  Her entire lifetime of  EPF savings in a cheque, was enchased by another woman of the same name, in the same estate who got hold of it, because her mail had been delivered to the wrong address. Her thoughtful countenance, while she is listening to the other sad stories her neighbors tell, is one of deep disillusionment.

Who knows what would have happened to a very studious young man named Kumar.  if he had only received the letter that told him that he had in fact been selected for university admission? After studying very hard, amidst great odds, a chance of a lifetime, a way out of a life of deprivation and hardship, was missed because of a letter misdirected. He is now a teacher in a remote village, living a mundane difficult life, unheard of and hopeless.  Simply because one letter was lost.

Many line rooms in the plantation sector are not numbered and letters are often delivered to other people with the same name. Whether a person receives a letter depends on the integrity of the kankami(official who organizes distribution of  these) the good will of ones neighbours , often sorely lacking, and sometimes, sheer chance…

Safeguarding the civil rights of plantation sector workers

Funded by the Australian High Commission, SL, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) along with a local partner Uva Shakthi Foundation, has worked on a pilot project in Passara ,Badulla(Uva Province) aimed at bringing a modicum of dignity into the lives of this  marginalized  community whose human rights have been routinely denied. In the last six months this project has arranged to provide permanent addresses, for the first time ever in the plantation sector, for no less than 3000 families of estate workers. The project also organized setting up secure mail collection boxes in 20 localities, selecting road names and providing signage for 40 of the estate by-roads in the area, in an endeavor to safeguard the delivery of correspondence.

The lack of National Identity cards among some workers, another problem addressed by the project, leads to a number of serious issues, eg. limited freedom of movement, difficulty in making transactions, vulnerability in civil and criminal cases, lack of security, complications in obtaining official documentation and finding employment etc

Mobile clinics were hosted to speed up the application process for more than 300 National Identity Cards, which may otherwise reach owners late or never.  The latter is particularly relevant to a large number of students who were due to sit for exams shortly.

The right to safely receive one’s correspondence, taken for granted in the rest of the country but fraught with difficulty in this area, can make the difference between receiving a rare university admission, a job in Colombo, a desperately needed remittance from a relative abroad…or not. In the lives of estate worker communities such rare opportunities may come only once or twice in a lifetime and be the difference between hope and a life of regrets

This project has been graciously sponsored by the Australian High Commission, SL 

*not their real names.

Who brought about the Trilingual NIC ?

Langauge NIC artilce

The Sinhala Tamil National Identity card -Whose victory is this?

The Island Newspaper of 1st March 2014 published an article in the front page, with a photograph saying that a newly printed Sinhala and Tamil, Bilingual National Identity card including personal details was introduced by the Department for the Registration of Persons on the 28th February 2014.

Other than the Island newspaper many other newspapers had published this news with some prominence. Some newspapers had shown an interest in this previously too. For example during the 1st week of February the Lakbima newspaper had published a report, with a photograph, that work was in progress those days in the experimental stage of producing a new National Identity Card.

All these newspaper reports publicized an idea that the introduction of the new National Identity Card was due to a requirement by the Department of Registration of Persons. This is how the Lakbima newspaper had reported this fact : “In order to prevent the problems that are incurred with the present National Identity Card work had commenced rapidly these days in the Department of Registrations of Persons to issue an new identity card  using modern technology according to the idea of the commissioner General Mr. R.M.S Sarath Kumara. “

The Divaina newspaper reported the following about this on 1st of March.

“The newly printed Sinhala and Tamil bilingual National Identity Card including personal details had been introduced yesterday (28th February) by the Department of Registrations of Persons.”

These newspaper reports indicate that the issuing of the new identity card was initiated due to the requirement of the Commissioner General of the Department of Registrations of Persons Mr. R.M.S Sarath Kumara. None of the reports that were published in the media stated that there had been any other citizen’s actions behind this. Therefore it is natural that the ordinary citizens of this country come to this conclusion. This is because they get news from reports that are published by the media. Yet, is it the truth? What actually happened? It is the right of the citizens of this country to know the correct information. By knowing this, the citizen gets an opportunity to realize the strength of the citizens actions in this country.

The need for an Identity Card including bilingual personal details, has been prevalent for a long time in this country. This is because when the Sinhala language and the Tamil language are the Official Languages of a country, it is a violation of the language rights of that country, when the primary letter that a citizen possess, being the National Identity Card is issued in a single language.

Due to this reason, although the citizens of this country, who had been persevering about language rights had published various ideas, there had been no decisive citizen action taking place about it.

In the y ear 2013, an Advanced Level student took part in a decisive intervention. That student is Anuradha Prasad Dananajaya Guruge from Maharagama who is an advanced level student in Ananda Vidyala Colombo. This student submitted a petition to the Supreme Court asking for the National Identity Card to be issued in both the Sinhala and Tamil languages.

Anuradha Prasad Dhananajaya Guruge, submitting his petition, to a three member bench  including Chief Justice, Mr Mohan Pieris, stated that, because the National Identity Card is issued in Sinhala only, immense difficulties are faced by him, when he travels to the Northern and Eastern Provinces, on official business , where administrative work is done only in the Tamil language.

When this petition was heard again on the 21st October  last year, the Supreme Court issued an order to the Department of Registration of Persons to issue all National Identity Cards in both languages, from the 1st of January 2014.

Furthermore according to orders issued by the Supreme Court regarding this petition ( STFR 93 of 2013) the Department of Registration of Persons should take steps to issue National Identity Cards in all three languages within the next three years.

Yet the Commissioner General of the Department of Registration of Persons had been unable to fulfill the prescribed order. Although this order had stipulated that the bilingual National Identity Card should be issued from 01st January 2014, the Vibhasha Newsletter on investigation found out that those arrangements had not been completed by the month of February.

Clearly it meant that the order from the Supreme Court had been disobeyed.  In any case, the fact that the Commissioner General had made a great effort to publicize himself as victorious in issuing such National Identity Card even  two months later than the stipulated date was evident from the news reports that were published later.

The Commissioner General should honestly think about how ethical this (publicity) is. On the other hand, the manner in which the media acted in the matter is also clearly problematic. The issuing of Sinhala Tamil bilingual National Identity Card is a victory for the citizens of this country.

Yet, when reporting this victory by not reporting correctly the true story behind it, many media of this country had avoided their responsibilities. It is a clear that the English media, as well as the Sinhala media had reported about this, without researching facts properly.

This may not have been a wrong that was pre-planned. Yet when incomplete reporting has been done, knowingly or unknowingly it is the reader who has to suffer the bad consequences.

When observing this situation, the most important part of this story has been deleted from the reporting.  The fact that knowledgeable citizens intervened and their rights were obtained by the action of citizens,  are facts that were thus missing.

In particular, the fact that a national policy had been changed by the intervening of a school student shows a milestone in the history of this country.

It is natural for the reader to have a new enthusiasm for his/her rights after reading this news. Such reporting would encourage the ordinary citizen to stand up for his / her rights.  This is why it is a social duty of the media to report such news correctly.

 

Gaveshi- (Excerpt from Vibhasha Magazine )

highway

see anything wrong with this photo?

The LLRC Report Made Simple

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission presented their much awaited report on Dec 16 2011.

Following a war which lasted almost 30 years, and resulted in death, destruction and devastation, this report is the result, after 18 months, of a presidential commission of inquiry studying the failure of the ceasefire agreement of 27/2/2002, highlighting lessons learnt, and aiming to promote national unity and reconciliation among all communities. This can be said to be one of the most important documents in the history of Sri Lanka.

Firmly believing that civil society has an important and constructive contribution to make to the conflict transformation process in Sri Lanka, the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) intends to promote a democratic dialogue at community level on the contents and recommendations of the LLRC report (and the resulting Action Plan) and to channel resulting opinion into a national discourse on implementing the LLRC, while increasing overall awareness of the LLRC report, among the public at large.

As part of this programme initiated by CPA, brief, reader friendly resource materials on LLRC were prepared  for wider dissemination in Sinhala and Tamil, to interested parties.

These include the Guidebook on the LLRC Report, which translates and simplifies the original report, and the Saama Vimarshi/ Samadana Nokku(Peace Monitor) publication on the LLRC.

CPA also directly translated the Chapter on Recommendations as well as the Action Plan, which latter has to date, not been officially translated.

Action Plan

http://www.cpalanka.org/national-plan-of-action-to-implement-the-recommendations-of-the-llrc-sinhala-and-tamil-translations/

CPA Commentary on the action Plan

http://www.scribd.com/doc/103800519/CPA-Commentary-on-LLRC-Action-Plan

Sinhala Handbook

http://www.scribd.com/doc/102731297/Handbook-on-the-Lessons-Learnt-and-Reconciliation-Commission-LLRC-in-Sinhala

Tamil Handbook

http://www.scribd.com/doc/104147918/Handbook-on-the-Lessons-Learnt-and-Reconciliation-Commission-LLRC-in-Tamil

Saama Vimarshi http://www.scribd.com/doc/104509894/Saama-Vimarshi-September-2012

Samadana Nokku http://www.cpalanka.org/saama-vimarshi-tamil-2012/

In order to reach out to the public at large CPA is working with district level partners; 48 trainers from a similar number of district organizations were trained to conduct awareness sessions on LLRC in their respective districts within the next couple of months. A thousand such sessions are targeted which will reach at least 30,000 individuals. Dialogue at the local level will feed into an action oriented comprehensive report on implementing the recommendations of LLRC which will be shared with key actors at the national level at the end of the two months.

The project team are also conducting interviews with a number of the witnesses who went before the LLRC hearings, to compose their feedback and expectations on implementing the recommendations.

If your organisation or individuals you know are interested in further  information of this programme or wish to hold awareness building sessions on this important national document, please contact the numbers  attached and below for assistance in this regard.

Please forward this information to anyone who may be interested.

You can also contact us for hard copies of the relevant resource materials, or the translations.

Thanking you

Lionel Guruge, Unit Co ordinator,Outreach Unit ,

Tel  :    011 2 370801-4

Fax :     011 2 370802

Mob :    0777 31 64 41

Inter Community Student Exchanges

Students at the Cultural Programme , INter University Debate Programme 2006
Students at the Cultural Programme , Inter Student Exchange PRogramme 2006

This series was set up with the objective of promoting inter-communal tolerance, appreciation of diversity & “peace culture” among teachers and students in schools island-wide. In fulfillment of the broad objective of the programme which is to foster inter-community friendship and understanding among the younger generation, activities such as philosophical debates, joint art and culture programmes and a periodical inter -school newsletter were planned.  The results of the Student Exchange Series have been extremely heartening and show a significant change in attitudes.  This program which attracted wide media coverage, initially involved the participation of 45 schools in 15 districts. It is planned to increase this number bringing the total involvement to 300 schools.

 

Provincial Needs Assesment 2008

PNA CONCEPT 2008
PNA CONCEPT 2008
 

 

Outreach Unit worked on two parallel programmes on the theme of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, Provincial Councils and Devolution of Power, during the period March –May 2008. This programme was supported by Development Alternatives Inc through USAID,


 

A preliminary round of One Day Regional Meetings was held at each of the Provincial Council auditoriums with the attendance of the Chairman, Chief Ministers, Provincial Ministers, Chief Secretaries and when possible of the Governor, with the purpose of outlining the concept of this programme, garnering support and participation of Provincial Council officials, and clarifying logistics for the proposed residential workshops.

 

Participant suggestions were gathered on the areas to be addressed at the planned workshops.  This was followed by a series of in depth Three Day Regional Workshops on Strengthening the Provincial Council Process.

Resource persons included Rohan Edrisinha, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Colombo

 

University and Head of the Legal and Constitutional Unit; S.G Punchihewa, Attorney-at-Law, National Trainer and Author; Ashoka Gunewardena, Chairman, Finance Commission, among others.

 

The residential workshops aimed to collect and document suggestions and experiences, success stories and challenges faced by participant Provincial Council personnel which would contribute to a final set of recommendations towards Provincial Council Reform.

 

 

The final report based on a set of recommendations reached at these workshops were published and presented to all concerned at the National Conference on Provincial Councils held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference hall (BMICH) on the 28th May 2008.

Outreach Unit Publications

  • Ethnic Problem and its Solutions (Lionel Guruge)
  • The Ethnic Conflict and the Responsibilities of Ethnic Minorities;
  • Devolution of Power; Evolution of the Federal Concept in Sri Lanka;
  • Buddhism and Conflict Resolution;
  • Local Governance; Regional Government & Roles and Responsibilities of their Representatives;
  • Local Government Institutions;
  • Regional Governance, Aims, Origin and Procedures;
  • Local Governance and your right to information;
  • Strengthening the Provincial Council System;
  • Power Sharing, the Federal Idea and Sri Lanka; etc.
  • LEXICON on the Federal Idea (with Legal Unit CPA)