Strengthening fundamental rights and freedoms in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka

Strengthening fundamental rights and freedoms in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka

“My husband was shot dead in 2013 by an unknown person. He had a life insurance with but now, three years have passed and I still haven’t been able to file a claim.”

Shanika

CONTEXT

For decades, Sri Lanka faced the brunt of a brutal and bloody war. While cycles of violence displaced thousands of people, it also destroyed decades of mutual trust and coexistence amongst its population.

OBJECTIVES

  • To promote better understanding and increased respect of fundamental rights and freedoms for all in Sri Lanka.
  • To promote freedom of expression, to improve the quality of legal services and to increase access to legal assistance in the target areas.

RESULTS

  • The media are empowered for foster inclusive dialogue among civil society in a conducive environment.
  • The capacities of young lawyers and judges on fundamental rights and freedoms, civil and criminal law are strengthened.
  • Awareness on and improved access to legal services for those most vulnerable is provided.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • In 2016, almost 1000 cases of missing documents were identified

TESTIMONY

Shanika

Shanika lives in the Eastern district of Batticaloa. Until 2013, life for her had been trying but not completely unbearable. Although she and her family had been severely impacted by the war including having to live in IDP camps.  She was married to Dinesh, a firewood collector during the day and a watchman at night. He was providing just about enough for their two children and with the war now having ended, the future looked promising. This cocoon however ruptured in November 2013 when Dinesh went to work and never returned. Shanika was later told that her husband had been shot by an unknown assailant and subsequently died as a result of his injuries. Dinesh, perhaps knowing the fragility of life in war zones, had however subscribed to a life insurance. Many years later, Shanika was still struggling to get her dues despite having tried. The insurance company required that she bring an inquest report regarding her husband’s death. She did not know how to proceed to get the report from the court and was intimidated by the complexity of paperwork, so she eventually gave up. While the project team was collecting information from community members in order to identify the main gaps and needs in terms of legal documentation, her case was brought to light. The team later was to go and check the status of her life insurance claim at the agency. With an understanding of what was needed, they then counselled Shanika during her visits to the court. As a result of their collective efforts, the inquest report was finally in hand. With close monitoring by the project team, the insurance agency received the report and eventually processed and paid Shanika her dues in August 2016. With this money, she is now planning to expand her mother’s grocery store, but she also wants to save some of it for her daughter’s education.