Govt to amend Penal Code for stronger child protection | Sunday Observer
In keeping with UN child rights convention

Govt to amend Penal Code for stronger child protection

14 May, 2023

The Women and Child Affairs Ministry has drafted a Bill to strengthen child protection and crack down on offences such as sexual abuse, exploitation, torture and cruel treatment against children.

The Bill will amend the Penal Code Act of 1995, specifically Section 308, and ensure that the child’s best interest is given paramount importance in all decisions and actions.

According to Ministry sources, the new legislation will impose severe legal consequences on the perpetrators of such crimes against children. The move is in keeping with the country’s commitment to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Sri Lanka ratified in 1991.

National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) chairman Udaya Kumara Amarasinghe said that the draft Bill was prepared after over two years of work by a team of stakeholders from various Government Departments, including the Education Ministry, the Attorney General’s Department, child psychologists and psychiatrists.

The Bill takes into account the Supreme Court’s recommendations of 2018, which highlighted the need for revisions to the Penal Code Act of 1995 to combat cruelty towards children. The NCPA will present the draft Bill to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe for review after a final meeting with stakeholders next month.

The new legislation will protect children under 18, and officials hope it will significantly reduce the number of child abuse cases. The move has been hailed by child rights activists, who have been calling for more robust measures to protect children and punish the perpetrators of child abuse.

Sri Lanka has been praised for its efforts to protect children, including formulating its Children’s Charter in 1992. However, the Government has acknowledged that more needs to be done, and that this draft Bill is a significant step, child rights’ activists said.