Archive for 2009

Empowerment of Detainees and Conflict Affected Persons

Posted onJuly 21, 2009

The Juvenile justice Project

The Restoration & Protection Unit has been working very closely with the Department of Probation and Child Care for a considerable period of time providing free legal assistance and reunifying  the juveniles in the remand homes in the Western province. The table given below shows the statistics for the months of March, April and May 2009.

Case Study

Magistrates Courts, Trincomalee had sent 14 year old Nishanthan to the Boys remand home, Kottawa  for 2 years for committing the offence of stealing a bicycle and this had not been informed to his parents.

IHR, after much effort managed to contact his mother who came forward as his guardian. He was released after 2 years on 28th May 2009 and was referred to Sarvodaya Vocational Training Centre to be trained in motor mechanism for a period of 6 months.

Increased number of visits to remand homes

IHR increased the number of visits per month to remand homes with the objective of reunifying more children

Psychosocial support center

A Psychosocial Support Centre (PSC)  was set up at IHR to provide psychosocial services through referral services. Through this services such as legal aid, temporary shelter facilities, counseling etc. are provided.

In the months of March, April and May 2009, services have been extended as follows.

March-12 clients

April -10 clients

May -12 clients

Also several advices have been given through telephone calls.

There are clients accessing the services throuph telephone calls and visits

Orientation Programme for network lawyers

An orientation programme for the network lawyers was held on the 21st March 2009 at  the Save the Children in Sri Lanka (SCiSL) head office.

Mr. Sajeewa Samaranayake and external consultant addressing the lawyers

Orientation Programme for network lawyers - Mr. Sajeewa Samaranayake and external consultant addressing the lawyers

Objectives of the Programme:

▪ Provide participants with background knowledge on Juvenile justice project carried out by IHR as a partner of SCiSL.

▪ Discuss the challenges faced by the network lawyers, in the process of expediting reunification of children from remand homes.

▪  Enable the network lawyers to benefit by a technical session on the Children and Young Persons Ordinance N. 48 of 1939.

The meeting commenced with an introduction to SCiSL and IHR ‘s work on Legal aid ,reunification and the follow up process. This was followed by a presentation on a summary of the work done by Social Legal Protection (SLP) project, progress and plans for the future. The importance of the role of a network lawyers in the process of reunification was emphasized in the  presentation.The main protection aspects of the CYPO and some thought-provoking data /excerpts of reports were also presented to the participants by the resource person,  Mr. Sajeeva Samaranayake – Attorney-at-Law.

Details of cases handled

March

April

May

Total

Collection of new cases

18

11

29

58

No. of cases Referred to Network Lawyers

55

40

45

140

Legal representations

70

40

43

153

No. of children represented in Court

45

44

50

139

No. of children reunified with guardians

07

04

07

18

No. of children placed in Institutions

03

03

03

9


Human Rights Education and Training

Posted onJuly 21, 2009

Diploma in Human Rights

The three batches, English medium, Tamil medium and Sinhala medium of the Diploma in Human Rights were conducted on every Saturday from 9.00am to 1.00pm discussing human rights topics. The 6 months programme commenced on 14th February 2009 and scheduled to conclude on 29th August 2009.

The contents of the programme are:

Introduction to human rights, Historical evolution of human rights, Civil and political rights, Economic, social and cultural rights, International human rights framework, Domestic human rights framework, Governance, participation and rule of law, Case studies on fundamental rights, Child Rights, Women’s Rights, Labour rights, Internally Displaced Persons, International Humanitarian Law, Minority Rights, Language Rights, Environmental rights, Public Interest Litigation and Corporate governance and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The programme provides an in depth study sessions on certain topics and the participants are required to do a project presentation and a social activity based on the in depth study they choose.

Legal Advice and Representation

Posted onJuly 21, 2009

graph

Case Highlights

Case No : 1

A suspect (Navy soldier) was arrested on suspicion with regard to some ammunition and a grenade found in a neighbor’s garden. The complainant had been the neigh borer. The complainant who is a witness in this case had been arrested after 11 years on open warrant due to not appearing in courts throughout the 11 years. He had been produced before the Magistrate on 08/04/2009 was remanded till 21/04/2009. It was learned from the arrestee that he had not received summons in the entire period of 11 years. On 21/04/2009 he was released on bail. He was discharged from this case on 26/05/2009.

Case No : 2

The suspect, Siriwardana Appuhamy, 72 years old was arrested on 22nd of May 2007 on suspicious of Murder. He was in remand prison nearly for 2 years without bail. During our prison clinic on 23rd of August 2008 we received this case. We filed a bail application in Negombo High Court on A01st December 2008. Case was taken up for inquiry on 22nd of April 2009 and bail was granted on conditions of Rs.10,000/= cash bail and 2 sureties.

Case No : 3

The client was a drop in client of year 2005. The Case was inquired into in May 2006. Client was a member of the Sri Lanka Army and has served in operational areas. He was ill whilst serving in an operational area. On completion of medical treatment the cost of damages caused was measured at 30% by the panel Army medical board. As he did not agree with this decision he wanted to pursue litigation to obtain damages in terms of Circular No 12/86.

On 25th February 2005 an appeal was made to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) making the Army Commander and 8 other Army Officers most of whom were Army Medical Officers as respondents.

In order to justify the claim of our client we tried to obtained medical opinion from qualified medical surgeons who were not army medical officers. These surgeons were Dr.Upali Banagala, Dr. Rizvi Sheriff, Dr .Yoganathan and Dr.Sudath Gunasekara. However they have refused to give their opinion as it involves a member of the armed forces. Thereafter we, through the information obtained through another army soldier who had obtained benefits under the circular we were able to obtain the services of Dr. KPMA Wijesiriwardene, a retied specialist army surgeon. He was a witness in the case. After the hearing the HRC made recommendation in favour of our client. It stated that there was a violation of article 12(1) of the constitution and recommended that he be reinstated and that he be produced before an independent medical board to assess the damages and evaluate the cost of damage. The order was issued on 18th August 2008 by the HRC.

Case No : 4

A lady, who is 21 years of age had eloped 2 years back. Her husband and his parents had tortured her mentally and physically. Within that period she was conceived. When she was 2 months pregnant the fetus was aborted due to the assault by her husband. After the incident she had left her husband’s home and came to her parents place and filed divorce action. Husband  had lodged a complaint at the Moragahahena police station that his wife’s parents abducted his wife. Due to the influence of the husband over the police, the police advised her to go and live with her husband. Accordingly she went to live with her husband. Again husband had continued to torture her and finally she came to IHR on 11th May 2009 and complained. Our lawyer accompanied her to the Women and Children bureau and made a complaint. Police officer had requested IHR to handover her to the parents. The Police fixed the inquiry for the 20th May. The husband too attended the inquiry. The Police warned the husband not to harass her anymore. The divorce case which was filed by some other Attorney-at-Law is still pending.

Activities carried out for the months of March, April & May 2009

Legal Aid

There were 3 releases in April and 2   releases of PTA/ER suspects in May respectively.

√  There were 15 visitors on PTA/ER detention matter with 9 alleged fundamental rights violations for the month of April in the Colombo office.

√  26 visitors on PTA/ER detention matters, 7 cases of Discrimination and 5 other Fundamental Rights violation cases were significant in the month of May in the Colombo office.

√ Jaffna office had 16 cases of Maintenance, 21 Assault cases and 34 Family dispute cases in the month of May.

√  The Anuradapura office received 5 alleged fundamental rights violation issues in the month of May.

Mobile legal clinics

9 mobile legal clinics were conducted, 1 in Deniyaya, 1 in Anuradhapura, 1 in Amparai, 1 in Matara and 5 in Jaffna during the period from March to May 2009

BOOSA transport service

IHR is providing a transport service to the relatives of the detainees of the Boossa prison to visit the detainees. This was concerned as most of these people are from very distance areas. During the period from March to May, transport services were provided 10 times to the Boossa prison.

Prison Clinics

9 prison clinics were conducted in the month of April, 3 in the Galle prison, 2 in the Anuradhapura prison and 4 in the Negambo prison.

Inquiries for the months of March, April and May 2009

Colombo Jaffna Anuradhapura Kotapoa Amaparai
Drop in clients 221 178 54 38 19
No. of visits 249 302 73 55 24
Letters 68 01 10 - -
Telephone calls 950 22 20 24 2
Distribution map of visitors for the months of March, April and May 2009

Distribution map of visitors for the months of March, April and May 2009

Legal Advice and Representation

Posted onJune 15, 2009

Legal Performance

Intervened to expedite the serving of indictment on a suspect was in remand for 10 years due to the negligence of law, enforcement authorities. The suspect was produced in Courts on 18/02/2009 for the first time after 10 years.

  • In a case filed by the Divisional Secretary, Thimbirigasyaya, on a rent and ejectment case against 6 persons replies were filed on behalf of the respondents.
  • Obtained bail for a murder suspect who was in remand custody for over 4 years.
  • Intervened in the arrest of a suspect to expedite his case.

Drop-in Clients

During the month of January 116 drop-in clients were entertained including regional offices Jaffna and Anuradapura.

In February and March the drop-in clients were 120 and 135 respectively.

These statistics include new and old clients.

Letters

Letters are exchanged between clients and IHR on matters where clients are unable to visit IHR personally.

Court Appearances

The details of the court appearance are as follows :
January – there were 139 court appearances of which 58 were PTA/ER matters and48
were employment related matters.

February – 118 court appearances of which 66 were PTA/ER matters and 18 were related to rent and ejectment matters.

March – 180 court appearances of which 95 were PTA/ER matters and considerable number of rent and ejectment matters.

Prison Clinics

Is conducted throughout the island for both male and female prison inmates.. At present the prisons are over crowded by 400% due to delays in the due process. Our interventions helps long term remandees to obtain bai, expedited indictments, hearings etc., Remandees with minor offences are being detained and incurring high costs for their detention.

Our intervention help reduce the over crowding and the release of minor offenders and long term remandees . We do furnish bail money for minor offenders.

Regional Offices

IHR services are extended to the public by the opening of regional offices at Anuradhapura, Kotapola and Ampara. This has made an impact in public awareness of the legal aid work of the IHR.

Transport service to Boosa

Transport service is arranged to reduce the burden of family members of detainees. Transport services to Boossa detention centre which is of great benefit to those who are unable or unwilling to use public transport. A bus is arranged from IHR to BOOSSA.

  • In January on two occasions and in February on four occasions this services were provided.

Hotline

Service is provided to facilitate legal services for the Arrest and Detention cases and Boosa transport service. Hotline number was advertised in the News papers.

  • Services are extended even to distant areas through the island wide network of lawyers.

Mobile Clinics

Mobile clinics are scheduled to conduct throughout the island. We provide legal aid by visiting villages. This helps villagers to address their problems at their doorstop.

  • Mobile legal clinics were organized by the regional offices at Deniyaya, Anuradhapura and Ampara on 07th, 15th and 21st of March respectively.
  • At Deniyaya visited 2 plantation estates and observed that most employees did not have important documents such as the NIC, birth certificate, death certificate etc.

At Anuradhapura we made a presentation on the services of IHR at the Regional Health Department on their invitation

Mobile Clinics
Another approach to the “Access to Justice” is conducting free mobile legal clinics. Generally people go in search of a lawyer for their legal problems.
IHR’s is extending it’s free legal services to the doorstep of the villagers. IHR has experience in conducting these clinics for last four years.
The Lawyers visit villages on a pre-determined day and speak to the villagers, individually. Through consultation solutions are given on the spot. But there are instances, where the matter needs to be referred to another organization, or a case needs to be filed at the courts. At this instance IHR bring or relevant information/documents to Colombo and follow on same.
The lawyers, visit the villages and speak to the villagers, to find out the problems faced by them, with the intention of providing solutions.
IHR co-ordinates with the Divisional Secretary or Grama Sevakas of each division, to organize such mobile clinics.

Human Rights Education and Training – Feb/March 2009

Posted onJune 15, 2009

Diploma in Human Rights

Diploma in Human Rights is a 6 months progarmme that explores the concept of human rights, discusses the ‘rights’ dimension of global and local events and trends, and builds a community of individuals to participate in making a change.

The programme is conducted in English, Sinhala and Tamil., by a panel of lecturers who are experts in those fields.

The new batches for all mediums commenced in the month of February with 69 participants. The participants are from private sector, forces, NGOs and other professionals.

The programme started with an introduction to the institute and programme. Ice breaking activity
was then carried out and followed by a session on Introduction to Human Rights. It was a very interactive session which gave participants a clear understanding of human rights.

Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa, Mr. Harsha Fernando and Mr. Wijekumar conducted the first session on Introduction to Human Rights in the Sinhala, English and Tamil mediums respectively.
Lectures were conducted during the months of February & March in the topics – Historical Evolution of Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Economic Social and Cultural Rights and International Human Rights Framework, Domestic Human Rights Framework Governance and Participation, Rule of Law, Constitutionalism and International Humanitarian Law

Human Rights Training to the Sri Lanka Army

On 24th and 25th February, IHR assisted a Basic Instructor Training Programme for Offices and Senior Non Commissioned Officers at the Institute of Peace Support Operations Training Sri Lanka by providing sessions on Gender Law pertaining to Women/Women in Armed Conflict, Laws pertaining to Child and Children in Armed Conflict and Introduction to Conflict resolution and Conflict Resolution Mechanisms.

The resource persons were Ms. Ireshika Gunawardene and Mr. S. Thurairaja. The number of participants were 35.

On 19th and 20th March, IHR assisted the Potential Observers Staff Officers Course which consisted with 7 Commissioned Officers. The sessions assisted by IHR were, Introduction to Human Rights, Women’s Rights and Child Rights. The resource persons were Mr. Rukshana Nanayakkara, Ms.Marini de Livera and Mr. S. Thurairaja.

Resource Centre

A Resource Centre comprising all reference books and materials relevant to human rights and the projects of IHR is in function.

Empowerment of Detainees and Conflict Affected Persons

Posted onJune 15, 2009

The Juvenile justice project

IHR works in partnership with Save the children to provide legal assistance to children in the remand homes in the Western province and concentrates its efforts to strengthen services in the legal and social sphere to increase facilitation towards meaningful reintegration with the support of Network of lawyers for legal representations and social workers for reintegration of children in society.

The Institute of Human Rights (IHR) has also been closely working with the Department of Probation and Child Care at the central government and Western provincial government levels for a considerable time with the main purpose of providing free legal services for juveniles in the remand homes in the Western province towards reunification and reintegration. The two remand homes are Boys Remand Home in Kottawa and Girls Remand Home in Ranmuthugala.

Target group

a) Children in conflict with the la
b) Child victims of physical and sexual abuse
c) Children in need of care and Protection.
d) Children at risk of long term institutionalization.

Project sites:

K ottawa boys Remand Home Ranmuthugala girls Remand Home-Kadawatha.

Objective

Children in conflict with the law, Children in need of care or protection ,child victims of physical and sexual abuse in the Kottawa boys remand home and Ranmuthugala girls Remand homes in the Western province and the children at risk of separation from their families are provided with legal support to facilitate reintegration into society and to promote family based care.

Observations on impact/Results

It has been observed that there has been a 50% reduction of the number of children in remand at Kottawa Remand home , due to our intervention ,in comparison to the previous average of 50 juveniles at any given time at Kottawa Boys remand home.

Legal representation by Network of lawyers island wide

Strengthening the Network lawyers from different parts of the island who represent children’s cases ,will be coordinated on a daily basis for referral of cases and for follow up on action taken on behalf of the child.

Witness to a murder –Protection

A 16 year old boy was promised a job by a man in a boarding house. Over a previous private dispute the man had with the boarding house owner –a young man ,was stabbed to death .The boy was a witness to this murder and was sent to Kottawa remand home for protection from the murderer who threatened the boy that if he went to the Police he will be killed.

He ran away when he was under the custody of the Kottawa remand home. His guardians informed us that the boy had returned home. IHR intervened and facilitated his return to the remand home to avoid an additional case against him and to ensure his protection.

Legal representation and reunification

In February alone 42 children were represented in Court ,of which 17 were reunified with their guardians while 2 children without guardians were referred to Hunupitiya children’s home, in Wattala.Monitoring on reunified children Reunified children’s information will be referred to the Social workers ,who will visit/monitor the status of the child and the families for monitoring and follow up island wide.

Visiting the 2 remand homes/ Contacting/ Finding guardians Kottawa boys and Ranmuthugala girls remand homes are visited twice a week to collect new case details.

Outputs

  • Children are reunified and reintegrated with their families/Society
  • Children are provided with alternatives to institutions. Eg : Job referrals with accommodation without accommodation
  • Children at risk of separation remain in family setting due to assistance with legal representation .

Activities

  • Representing children in conflict with the law and children at risk of institutionalization in Court.
  • Expediting Court process.
  • Intervene to provide financial bail.
  • Establish contact with the families of children in conflict with the law and children at risk of institutionalization in Court.
  • Legal consultation to families .
  • Refer children for vocational training.
  • Strengthening the existing lawyers network

Indicators

50 children are reunified with their families .
No of referrals mapped increased.
No of children referred to Vocational training/on the job training increased.
No. of children prevented from separation increased.
At least 200 children are represented in Court.
At least 15 children are released on bail.
40 families benefit from legal consultations with a view of reunification with their child.

in house ,the number of children at the Kottawa remand home at present are ,from 20 to 25.

Juveniles accessing the boys remand home in 2007 -493
2008 -410

Psychosocial support Centre at IHR

The above centre was initiated to facilitate clients seeking legal aid to psychosocial support systems and referrals services besides legal advice and representation .

In February 8 clients were befriended and psychosocial support and referral were made.1 client’s representative made 20 visits, where the Unit appointed a lawyer to handle the legal matters and for the necessary follow up.

Orientation for Interns

36 Kelaniya University Final year -Sociology Interns (males and females ) who were referred to IHR were provided an orientation of the activities of IHR ,and our working sites.

Civil Society Network on Child Rights

“Civil Society Network on Child Rights” is a National Child rights Network .IHR is a founder member who actively participated and contributed towards the initiation of the network. Discussions on a ame ,membership, structure , autonomy, functions, concerns were discussed. The Co-group comprises of Save the children, Forut, World Vision, Plan, FIT.

Supplementary/Alternative report

As a part of a collaborative initiative to strengthen child rights monitoring and advocacy by Civil society in Srilanka, organizations such as FORUT, SAVE THE CHILDREN, FIT and WORLD VISION initiated a Forum to submit a report on child rights status. It is the first time such a report in consultation with children,is sent to the UN Committee. IHR is involved in preparing a CRC document on the family environment and special protection cluster draft report.

Issue Nos : 116 & 117 for the months Jan/February and March/April 2009 respectively were released.

“E Newsletter”
Since January 2009, IHR commenced to operate the “E-Newsletter

Publications – Jun 2009

Posted onJune 15, 2009

Newsletter

Bimonthly newsletter named “Human Rights Review “ is published highlighting human rights violations and current political issues. It also gives an account of the activities of the different units of IHR during those two months.