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OPCAT Project Activities - March/April 2007

Details about two view exchange meetings held by the Sri Lankan network regarding the OPCAT.

View Exchange Meetings

Chitral Perera, the Sri Lankan National Coordinator conducted two View Exchange Meetings with two groups of stakeholders in Sri Lanka regarding the importance of promoting the State to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol.

View Exchange Meeting One—with UN Country Team in Sri Lanka

  • Date: 28 March 2007
  • Venue: UN Headquarters, Colombo.
  • Participation: Rory Mungoven, Senior  Human Rights  Advisor and two other members of the UN country team.
  • Summary of Meeting:

Rory agreed to host a forum that included other well known human rights organisations such as the Law & Society Trust (LST), Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and Home for Human Rights (HHR) where the national coordinator will be afforded an opportunity to introduce the OPCAT regional project and proposed activities regarding promoting the ratification by the Sri Lankan government. A discussion could also follow about the advantages and opportunity presented by the OPCAT and other related matters.

Rory also agreed to introduce the national coordinator and network to the local Human Rights Donor Group at one of the Group's monthly meetings. This is a group—that provides grants for HR related small-scale projects and activities—and comprises members of the donor community stationed within the country. Such a meeting will enable the national coordinator to present the regional project as well as the proposed national activities to this Group, thus building invaluable links with it.

It was also said that the Rapporteur on Torture and other forms of ill treatment was expected to visit Sri Lanka during the course of this year. Rory said the visit will be a good opportunity to push the government to work towards ratification of the instrument. The national coordinator would thus be notified of the visit and also afforded opportunity to meet with the Rapporteur.

Rory also mentioned that based on the recent ratification of the OPCAT by the Maldives, a team from the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) will be conducting a workshop, and seminar on the implementation of the OPCAT, end April. The APT team was also scheduled to  visit Sri Lanka  for 2 - 3 days thereafter. He promised to introduce the national coordinator to the team and afford an opportunity for him to present the project activities to the team.

2. View exchange meeting with a group of practicing lawyers:

  • Date: 8 April 2007
  • Venue: Janasansadaya premises
  • Participation:
    Sharmaine Gunaratne, Suresh Fernando and Janaka Amarasinghe Attorneys-at-law;
    Chithral Perera, national coordinator
    Amitha Priyanthi, human rights defender and paralegal attached to Janasansadaya
  •  Summary of Meeting:

Participants discussed the provisions of the OPCAT and also on different methodologies regarding creating awareness among the people about the Optional Protocol in the prevention of torture and other forms of ill treatment—that is of carrying out independent visits to places of detention—and thus the importance of Sri Lanka ratifying the Optional Protocol.. 

A discussion about the current local laws as well as rules and regulation pertaining to prisons and prison conditions;

A discussion on the legal requirements of reporting torture;

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