Sri Lanka

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CountrySri Lanka
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
ViolenceWhile noting with appreciation the initiatives taken to tackle gender-based violence against girls, as the establishment of women’s and children’s desks in several police stations and gender-based violence desks in several hospitals, the Committee is gravely concerned at the continuing high prevalence of gender-based violence against girls and recommends that the State party strengthen legislation punishing gender-based violence, criminalize marital rape sexual intercourse in all circumstances where the consent of the spouse is missing and remove any requirement to participate in mediation prior to pursuing a case in court.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and some penal institutions.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from Sri Lanka shows that a lot still needs to be done to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The situation is particularly difficult for girls, who do not have the same rights as boys and are exposed to a lot of (sexualized) violence. Another problem is that NGOs and child rights defenders cannot carry out their functions properly. Also, more information about children's rights must be spread to raise awareness in public and among professionals such as teachers or judges.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenThe Committee recommends that the State party combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children, including by decriminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts, prohibit the harassment of transgender children by law enforcement personnel and bring perpetrators of violence, including of sexual abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children, to justice.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends to take large-scale awareness-raising measures, including inter alia through mandatory segments in the school curriculum, to remove the strong stigma and fear of acts of reprisal that deter girls who are victims and witnesses from reporting violence and to change persisting patriarchal attitudes and eliminate discriminatory stereotypes that are a major root cause of sexual and gender-based violence and that perpetuate the associated culture of impunity.

Sri Lanka should further increase the number of safe houses for women and child victims, placing a specific focus on ensuring provision of shelter for internally displaced women and girls and provide regular substantive training for relevant groups of professionals on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and on standardized, gender- and child-sensitive procedures for dealing with victims and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. The State party should also ensure that complaints can be made and that all support is available in all languages to victims of gender-based violence.

The Committee recommends to ban, as currently under discussion, female “circumcision” for girls, a form of genital mutilation practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community, and to carry out awareness-raising activities, including campaigns, on the patriarchal nature of this practice and its negative effects on health. It also recommends to ensure access to safe and confidential abortion without stigmatization and post-abortion care services for adolescent girls, making sure that their views are always heard and given due consideration.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenThe Committee urges the State party to significantly strengthen measures to combat discrimination against children belonging to ethnic, ethnoreligious and indigenous minority groups, and to ensure that the rights, traditions and lands of the indigenous Vedda children and their families are preserved and tackle the socioeconomic marginalization and discrimination to which they are subjected. Furthermore, Sri Lanka should adopt and provide adequate resources for the implementation of legislation, strategies and awareness-raising measures to combat caste-based discrimination and train the judiciary and law enforcement personnel accordingly as well as increase efforts to prevent hate speech, incitement to violence and violent attacks, including riots, against ethnic, ethnoreligious and indigenous minority groups.
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a human rights-based approach to disability and set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities in all public policies and programmes as well as undertake awareness-raising campaigns aimed at government officials, the public and families to combat the stigmatization of and prejudice against children with disabilities, promote a positive image of such children and ensure that they are not portrayed as objects of charity, but as rights-holders. Sri Lanka should further collect disaggregated data on children with disabilities of all ages and improve early intervention services and in addition guarantee the right to education for all children with disabilities and promote and strengthen inclusive education.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenIn view of the relatively high number of parents who migrate abroad for work, leaving their children behind, the Committee recommends that the State party step up efforts to provide adequate support and work opportunities within the State party to families in disadvantaged and marginalized situations as well as establish adequate care options, avoiding institutionalization for children whose parents decide to migrate for work, and provide specific measures of support for these children, who are often subjected to dire situations. Also, the State party should create incentives for parents to return, as well as enter into diplomatic agreements with the destination countries to ensure their right to freely leave their employer, visit and reunite with their children.
Free kindergartenNot clear
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
physical health

While noting with appreciation the provision of free health care to all citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party address the regional disparities in terms of health care, increase the number of health personnel, particularly in rural and remote areas, and educate specialists in fields where capacity is currently lacking, especially in mental, sexual and reproductive health services. It further recommends to combat high out-of-pocket health expenses, high prices of medicines and expensive private medical care, with a view to ensuring that each child has equal access to quality public health care.
The committee also recommends to the state party to strengthen their efforts to address the relatively high rates of consumption of tobacco and alcohol among adolescents, by strictly prohibiting the advertising and sale of all forms of those substances to children and by raising awareness at school in that regard.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee recommends to strengthen Sri Lankas efforts to prevent adolescent suicides. The state party should address mental health problems and suicidal tendencies, and carry out campaigns to raise awareness on the issue.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee urges the State party to significantly reduce the very high use of agrochemicals, which are harmful to the health of children, and to establish an effective monitoring system in this regard.

Business sector

Noting with concern the continuing negative impact of private domestic and foreign business and industries on children, the Committee urges the State party to establish a clear regulatory framework for domestic and foreign businesses, ensuring that they are legally accountable and that their activities do not negatively affect human rights or contravene environmental and other standards, especially those relating to children’s rights. It further recommends to undertake awareness-raising campaigns on the prevention of child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. To improve the situation, the Committee also recommends to strengthen training for the police on investigative and computer evidence-gathering techniques to identify perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism and chat room paedophiles and ensure that perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are brought to justice.

The Committee urges the State party to further strengthen and implement existing legislation, with a view to ensuring that all hazardous or abusive forms of labour are prohibited for children under 18 years of age, and adopt specific measures to address the situation of child domestic workers. In addition, it urges the State party to increase efforts to ensure that perpetrators of exploitation of child labour and perpetrators of trafficking in children for the purposes of labour exploitation are brought to justice.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee recommends to set the age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level and provide free, qualified and independent legal aid to all children. Sri Lanka should also adopt a comprehensive policy for juvenile justice, based on restorative practices and guided by the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken into account as a primary consideration as well as expeditiously establish specialized juvenile court facilities and procedures, with adequate human, technical and financial resources, appoint specialized judges for children and ensure that they receive appropriate training. When detention is unavoidable and for transportation to and from court, the Committee recommends to ensure that children are not detained together with adults and that detention conditions comply with international standards, including concerning education and health services.

Specific observations

The Committee encourages the State party to continue to intensify its landmine-awareness programmes and demining activities and its assistance to and rehabilitation services for child landmine victims.

Additional BackgroundConcluding observations on the fifth and sixth periodic report released on 2 March 2018.
Last Updated (date)16th of February, 2022