News

New Chair for Child Protection Authority soon

  • Ex-Chair allegedly quit due to inability to work with State Minister

A new chairman will soon be appointed to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), according to State Minister of Women and Child Development Piyal Nishantha De Silva.

Speaking to The Morning, he said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would decide on the new appointment soon and accordingly inform the Presidential Secretariat.

The NCPA has been functioning under its Deputy Chairman ever since the preceding NCPA Chairman Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana resigned from his post, allegedly over a dispute with State Minister De Silva.

Responding to this allegation, the State Minister said he had no involvement in Prof. Vidanapathirana’s resignation, adding that he had no personal issues with him either.

“We cannot keep a person on a chair by force; however, I don’t have any issue with the resigned Chairman,” De Silva told The Morning.

However, according to reliable sources, Prof. Vidanapathirana had tendered his resignation due to conflicts arising from De Silva’s attitude, which tended more towards the political angle as opposed to the work of an administrative officer, making it difficult to convince him on issues regarding the NCPA’s official work.

Sources also revealed that the resignation was not Prof. Vidanapathirana’s personal choice, and that he made this decision due to the unpleasant experience he had faced in dealing with politicians. Sources added that during his tenure as NCPA Chairman, Prof. Vidanapathirana was able to create a five-year action plan, a national data system, and a call centre for the NCPA.

However, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had commented on the fact that a national policy on child protection is yet to be implemented, despite the NCPA having been established in 1998.

This issue was brought up when Prof. Vidanapathirana, as NCPA Chairperson, and other officials including Ministry of Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera appeared before the COPE in February this year, where COPE Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath had pointed out the failure on the NCPA’s part to implement the national child protection policy.

The COPE highlighted the NCPA’s failure to implement a national policy, which it called a primary responsibility of the outfit. The COPE proceedings also pointed out that the NCPA’s annual reports for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 hadn’t been handed over to Parliament, while claiming that public funds had been wasted on futile projects to prepare a data network, and that the Legal Department was being served by only two persons, and only one person was serving the section handling complaints.

However, according to Prof. Vidanapathirana, he was able to hand over the NCPA’s annual reports for the four mentioned years and had implemented a national child protection policy during his tenure.