Under a European Union funded project NPSL is cooperating with various agencies to join efforts in educating and training human rights defenders (HRDs). This project addresses awareness and knowledge on fundamental rights and strengthening of networks. These organizations are working on mechanisms that will enhance the safety and security of HRDs in the country. This project is designed to create a safer space, and more secure atmosphere, using proper and legal means within which HRDs can work. Through these trainings HRDs will work together and be accepted and recognized as agents of peace in the society.
One of the objectives of the Capacity Building Project is to strengthen local communities in their capacities to mitigate threats and to build up local skills in basic negotiation techniques. In the past trainings were focused on selected members of communities. Now with a focus on our exit strategy and due to limited numbers of staff with the appropriate skills, the project has shifted its approach. The training now focuses on local Community Based Organisation’s (CBO’s) staff, knowing that they have a wider access to villages and communities and can multiply these trainings into the communities and villages they serve.
Recently, as the project has progressed, NPSL has received more demands for the training on Basic Negotiation Skills and Threat Mitigation (BNSTM). These approaches have come from the academe, NGOs, government bodies and agencies such as the Mediation Boards, National Child Protection Authority and others. The importance of the project is appreciated and acknowledged by various stakeholders who plan to multiply the trainings in their respective assigned communities and villages.
In northern Sri Lanka, the Vavuniya District, Nonviolent Peaceforce focuses its programme on Child Protection. NPSL works not only as individual entity but in collaboration with various Government and non-government agencies. The promotion and protection of children’s rights in various villages and communities is a joint endeavour. NPSL is working hand-in-hand with these agencies in order to strengthen their mechanisms to gear up to better protection for children as well as their welfare and well-being.
A training-workshop, facilitated by NPSL on the 9th of June 2011, to members of the Village Child’s Rights Monitoring Committees had 25 participants. This activity emphasizes the importance of the child protection project and more specifically the roles and responsibilities different stakeholders, such as government, NGOs and INGOs, play as actors in the development of children. It was through this training that participants became aware of the “co-responsibility” we all have in terms of child protection. Namely that “protection of children is everybody’s concern and responsibility; it is not only the task of the government nor NGOs and INGOs but ALL”.
Nonviolent Peaceforce Sri Lanka also maintains its partnership with various government agencies working on Child Protection. In Vavuniya district NPSL aside from providing accompaniments to staff and officers of National Child Protection Authority, Child Rights Protection Officers (CRPO) and other government agencies in the district, it also assists and co-facilitates their awareness programme on children’s rights.
NPSL assisted in the formation of three (3) Village Child’s Rights Monitoring Committees (VCRMC) in Vavuniya North. This was after NPSL coordinated with the Child Rights Protection Office (CRPO) based in Vavuniya North regarding the activity. After visiting and consulting with village leaders, parents and community members, the committees were formed. The main task of these newly formed VCRMCs will be to guide the children in their own developmental growth and mediate in any dispute which arises affecting children in the community. The newly formed committees will work closely with the CRPO in safeguarding children and they are mandated with reporting any violations and abuses to their respective Government Agents, in coordination with government agencies, NGOs and INGOs.