News

NCPA to look into kids hurt by tear gas

  • Child Protection Alliance complains to UN and NCPA 

By Dinitha Rathnayake

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) plans to take immediate action after investigating the recent incident in which children were injured by tear gas near the Parliament premises.

Speaking to The Morning, NCPA Chairman Chanaka Udayakumara Amarasinghe said he had received a complaint from the Child Protection Alliance related to this incident, but that it was only a third party complaint without sufficient evidence.

“Most of these organisations seem to be sending letters but they don’t follow up on them afterwards. They want to be the first one to inform, that’s all,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Child Protection Alliance raised concerns over the gross violation of human rights against unarmed children by the Government of Sri Lanka in letters addressed to the UN Resident Co-ordinator in Sri Lanka, United Nations Compound, Human Rights Commission, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in addition to the National Child Protection Authority.

The letters stated that a news broadcast on 6 May 2022 showed disturbing scenes of children injured by tear gas used to disperse unarmed protestors by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Amarasinghe further stated: “We demand an immediate inquiry on the above and urge you to protect and promote the rights of children and secure their lives, the true beneficiaries of the future of Sri Lanka.”

Responding to the appeal, UNICEF stated that they are concerned with reports of violence during protests involving children. All actors must guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including for children. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and adolescents have the right to participate and express their opinions on issues that affect them. The State, local communities, and families have a shared responsibility to protect children and safeguard their rights. The UNICEF added that all acts of violence must stop.

“Every adult must act with a sense of responsibility and avoid exposing children to all forms of violence, including during protests. We call on law enforcement agencies to avoid the use of force and ensure that fundamental guarantees for the protection of children remain applicable everywhere, at all times.”