“Dinushika Dissanayake, the Executive Director of the Law and Society Trust stressed that both the PRC report and the Subcommittee report showed how people across Sri Lanka –from the North, South, East and West – wanted economic, social and cultural rights guaranteed. “Guaranteeing ESC rights in the constitution is no longer an option. This is a false debate we are having. People want it. They very clearly ask for it,’ she said.
Elaborating further she referred to the life experience of a boy from Giradurukotte who had spoken at the launch of a briefing paper on CKDU by the Law and Society Trust the previous day. “He was a beneficiary of public education and entered the university. His father was a farmer and contracted CKDU. They couldn’t pay for his boarding in Colombo and his mother now works for a mono cropped plantation in the area done by a multinational company. His mother is also exposed to different types of chemicals. For me, this raised all types of complex issues about socio economic rights and where we place it.”
She pointed out that ESC rights could be included not only in the Bill of rights but also in other parts of the constitution, including the sharing of sovereignty and decision making over natural and national resources. “Sri Lanka has a rich history of provisioning for human rights and especially for economic and social rights since the 1940s, be it education or health. This has led to where we are today, in terms of the indexes and life expectancy,’ she said.
“Sri Lanka is also a democratic, socialist republic and this is not by accident. The thinking of the leftist government of 1972 and the fact that it was not removed in 1978 says a lot about the political ideology about our people and the country,” she added.”
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