Sri Lanka: Minister stresses need to implement Official Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Sep 27 14:13:41 UTC 2008

Minister stresses need to implement Official Language Policy
Rasika Somarathna

Welcoming President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brief statement in Tamil
during his speech at the UN General Assembly, Minister Mahinda
Samarasinghe underscored the need for focused attention on the
implementation of Sri Lanka's official language policy founded on
chapter four of the 1978 Constitution which accords full parity status
to both Sinhala and Tamil. The Minister speaking at the conclusion of
an international forum, convened to find durable solutions for
protracted displacement due to the conflict on Thursday, emphasised
the need to re-focus in implementing the policy to the full.

"Rights in the Constitution must be respected and realised not only by
words but also by deeds," the Minister said addressing diplomatic
corp, UN agency heads, NGO, INGO members and local stakeholders
participating in the deliberations in Colombo.
While describing the President's speech as a very strong signal to the
people of the North and the East which re-emphasised that Tamil was an
official language since 1987-used and respected by the head of State,
the Minister stressed that the gesture was indicative of the
President's deep commitment in guaranteeing equal status for both
Sinhala and Tamil.

"The President's action arguably is the first time that Tamil was used
by a Head of State in addressing the UNGA, makes it clear that we are
a Government committed to promoting and nurturing diversity", he
added. The three day National Consultation on the status of protracted
IDP's in Sri Lanka within the framework for durable solutions ended on
a successful note.

The National Consultation was co-organised by the Ministry of Disaster
Management and Human Rights along with the UNHCR in Sri Lanka, with
the keynote speaker and principle resource person being Prof. Walter
Kaelin, Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights
of IDPs. The Consultation is expected to act as a percusor to a
proposed National Plan of Action on the question of resolving
protracted displacement.
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