New NCPA Chairman appointed

University of Sri Jayewardenepura Senior Lecturer Udayakumara Amarasinghe was appointed National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Chairman, effective yesterday (18).

A Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Amarasinghe is a long-serving member of the Board of Directors of the NCPA. He also serves as a member of the Board of Management of the National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses (NAPVCW).

The previous NCPA Chairman, Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana, had resigned from his position last month. 

The NCPA had been functioning under its Deputy Chairman ever since Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana resigned from his post, which had allegedly occurred over a dispute with State Minister of Women and Child Development Piyal Nishantha De Silva.

Responding to this allegation, the State Minister had told The Morning that 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.