The guidelines were developed by the Commission in recognition of its role as a national human rights institution to promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders.
Protection human rights defenders is a corporate responsibility of the state, civil society and the international community, the Commission said. However, state authorities have a primary responsibility to protect human rights defenders and ensure an environment where they can operate free from any hindrance and insecurity.
On 20 January 2015, at the first meeting of the year with the civil society committee, the Commission presented the draft guidelines for state authorities on human rights defenders. It was suggested at the meeting that the Commission host consultations in different parts of the country to promote the guidelines with representatives from civil society and to seek their input.
Since then, the Commission has hosted meetings with district civil society organisations in Jaffna (13 May), Batticaloa (27 May), Trincomalee (10 June), Vauniya (9 July) and Anuradhapura (10 July). There were a number of valuable comments and suggestions given by the civil society representatives in relation to the steps that should be taken in the future. They also pointed out the human rights challenges they faced.
The Commission will hold a discussion with the state authorities before finalising the document. The draft Guideline for Protecting Human Rights Defenders (available in Sinhala, Tamil and English) are available on the website of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.