Experiences using human rights to examine laws and policies in

Experiences of using Human Rights to
Examine Laws Regulations and Policies in
Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health
Sri Lanka
Kathmandu Nepal – 15th – 18th November 2011
• The WHO tool "advancing adolescents'
sexual and reproductive health through
human rights, strengthening laws,
regulations and policies”
• Department of Reproductive Health and
Research and Department of Child
Adolescent Health and Development in WHO
in collaboration with the Human Rights
Programme at Harvard University’s School of
Public Health.
Objectives of the Assessment
Review and document the government efforts to
supportive legal and policy framework
Identify legal, policy and regulatory barriers, and
make recommendations to overcome these
Engage health sector, as well as non-health
sector, actors to eliminate barriers to
adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health;
Identify especially vulnerable groups and
examine government effort to address their
reproductive and sexual health needs.
• Concurrence from the Ministry of Health
• Appoint the National coordinator,
working group and three researchers
from legal /Reproductive health and
child rights
• Orientation and adaptation on the tool
• Desk review, data compilation and
• Submission of the draft report to the
national working group
Methodology cont …..
• stakeholders meeting to review on
findings, conclusions and
• Submission of the final report and
follow up actions
• Final report on tool methodology, and
recommendations for improvement of
the tool
Key Areas
•Eliminating Unsafe Abortion
•Family Planning
•Early Childbearing
•Promoting Sexual Health
Findings and recommendations
Favourable Laws and Policies
• Constitution of 1978 legally enforceable
fundamental rights were defined in several
Articles of Chapter III.
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
• Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC)
Both been ratified
Eliminating Unsafe Abortion
Eliminating Unsafe Abortion…
1)The Law in Sri Lanka is very restrictive and does not
address the reality of a high incidence of illegal
abortion and the resulting adverse health
To advocate for a change of the law as a public health
issue highlighting as an initial step , for legal
termination for specified grounds such as rape,
incest and severe congenital abnormalities..
There is a lack of awareness among the public
especially the religious lobbies of magnitude of
the health consequences of unsafe abortion.
Conduct public meeting campaigns on health as
consequences of abortion so as to undermine
religious lobbies that oppose changes to laws and
policies and create a supportive environment for
( MoH/ Professional medical associations/
Women’s groups/SLFPA)
Source: (109,126)
Eliminating Unsafe Abortion…
1) The current law criminalizes the conduct of the
woman who seeks or permits an abortion that is
not considered legal, and places
responsibility of reporting illegal abortion with
the medical professional
• General Comment No 28 of the Human Rights
Committee (2000). It interprets the right to equality in Art
2 & 3 of ICCPR, and specifically refers to the issue of
reporting cases of abortion as an invasion of the
woman’s equal right to privacy.
• Changes to the law should be accompanied by a review
of the health regulations and policies to incorporate the
concept of a right of privacy. This will help to relieve the
responsibility of the medical officers from reporting every
possible abortion.
Recc: MoH/ Ministry of Justice
Way Forward
• Report to be presented to the MOH and
Judicial sector for implementation of the
• Policy brief to be produced for wider