In Parliament
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha At the Debate on the Prescription (Special Provisions) Bill - August 7th 2014 PDF Print E-mail

It is an honour, Mr Chairman, to have been asked to speak on this Bill, which I am very happy to support It is a necessary measure, and should have been introduced some years back. Indeed I recall six years ago, when I headed the Peace Secretariat, having a meeting with the Chair of the Law Commission about the need to introduce legislation of this sort, and being impressed because they too had already thought about this.


I had been unexpectedly drawn into public life from the rural pleasures of Sabaragamuwa University, but I thought it necessary to interpret my mandate widely, in the interests of peace and reconciliation. It seemed sensible then to also plan for the future. Though much was uncertain at the time, we had to hope that we could overcome terrorism, as indeed we successfully did a year or so later. But we also needed to eradicate the root causes of terrorism, which required, as the Secretary of Defence eloquently put it in those days, at a function at the Central Bank late in 2008, a political solution, which was not his area of concern.


Planning for the future then was of the essence, and I was pleased to find that the Law Commission had already thought of the problems the existing provisions regarding Prescription might cause. After all, it was manifestly unfair that those who had left their lands because of terrorism should have to lose these because others had occupied them for the period required to claim ownership. I recall being told that draft legislation was ready at the time, so it is sad that this lay forgotten for so long.

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On the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs in the Committee Stage of the Budget PDF Print E-mail

Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

On the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs

In the Committee Stage of the Budget, December 9th 2013


I am honoured to speak on the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs, which deals with perhaps the most important subject we need to consider. I say this because, while the development programme government has put in place with regard to infrastructure is vital, it will serve no purpose unless we also concentrate on human development. In this regard we need to ensure that our children are in full enjoyment of all their rights, and that we also empower them so that any violations are minimized.

 

It is equally important, Mr Speaker, to ensure that women are not only protected, but also empowered. For this purpose we must put in place coherent mechanisms that can identify shortcomings and address them promptly and systematically. Above all we must move from simply reacting to problems, but rather anticipate potential problems and avoid them – a strategy, I should add, that would hold us in good stead with regard also to international relations as well as domestic politics.

 

With regard to Women and Children, I am happy to say that we have an active Ministry that is able to conceptualize and initiate new measures. Chief amongst these is the establishment of Women and Children's Units in every Divisional Secretariat. If I might say so, this Ministry has been the first to recognize the importance of the Division, which is the first active interface between government and people. Indeed this Ministry has also recognized the importance of the Grama Niladhari Division, which is the first actual interface, though it is for the raising of issues rather than solving them. I should add that it would make sense to set in place, even in GN Divisions, consultative mechanisms to resolve simple problems. However it the Division that is the first level at which more important decisions can be taken, and where the front line officers of various government institutions can meet to discuss problems and plan responses – and where they can discuss trends that will help them to anticipate problems and avoid them.

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