September 22, 2021
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    Measures taken to set aside a specific date for the hearing of child abuse cases – The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus disclose.

    August 05, 2021

    The Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana stated that an agreement was reached following the discussions with the Judicial Service
    Commission to set a specific date for the hearing of child abuse cases pending in the High Courts.


    Furthermore, the Chairman stated that circular No. 449 of the Judicial Service Commission has been sent to all High Court Judges on June 28 th in order to give priority to cases involving children on the set date and to formulate a methodology for the purpose of identifying such cases.

    The Chairman expressed the above remarks speaking at a meeting of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus held in Parliament on August (03).


    The Chairman also stated that Cabinet approval has been granted to set up nine audio-visual recording centers in each province to present the relevant evidence from remote locations without having to summon the victimized children to court. In addition, the Chairman further informed the Committee that steps will be taken to establish Live Remote Evidence Recording Centers at the aforementioned locations.

    Following the adoption of the National Child Protection Policy 2019, an action plan to implement it has already been launched based on the 10 relevant Ministries, the Chairman said. He further said that everything is ready for the launch of the National Database on Child Protection in collaboration with Sri Lanka Telecom in October.

    Hon. State Minister Dr Sudharshani Fernandopulle, the Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus stated that the Caucus will lead way to initiate appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of child abuse and to strengthen the existing laws against acts that are harmful to the safety and well-being of children of this country, including child abuse, sexual abuse and enslavement.

    Hon. Deputy Chair of the Caucus Hon. Rohini Kumari Wijerathna said that as the institution that makes laws for the protection of children in this country, the Members of Parliament as well as all elders of the country have a responsibility. The Deputy Chairperson further stated that the Child Protection Authority has received 55,000 inquiries during the COVID period and 4740 child abuse complaints within the last six months whilst emphasizing that hat the members of her Caucus will stand together without condition towards any positive decision regarding women and children, regardless of their political views.

    Hon. State Minister Seetha Arambepola, Deputy Chairperson of the Forum, stated that there should be some censorship in the reporting of child abuse incidents through media and that the practice of reporting child abuse in the present media context further embarrasses children and their families. Thus, the state minister emphasized that it is also essential to regulate media coverage in such situations.

    The Hon. Parliamentarians emphasized the importance of preventing the media from revealing the identity of the child victim and from providing detailed information related to
    the ongoing legal process in particular to child abuse.

    The importance of the strict enforcement of the law against employing any girl or boy under the age of 18 years, enforcement of laws on child abuse and raising awareness regarding child abuse prevention at the grassroots level, amending certain laws relating to child protection which are way out of time and the importance of proper coordination between all relevant institutions was highlighted further.

    The need to establish a separate Department of Social Services to create awareness among parents on gender equality whilst raising awareness of parents to prevent child abuse and regulate the process of implementing long-term child abuse prevention programs was also discussed.

    Hon. Deputy Chairpersons of the Caucus Rohini Kumari Wijerathna and State Minister Seetha Arambepola, its members Hon. Parliamentarians Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Diana Gamage, Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana, officials of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and other institutions related to child, Mrs. Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff were present at the meeting held.

     

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