The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is meeting in Geneva from 15 January to 2 February to review children’s rights in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Panama, Seychelles, Spain, Solomon Islands, Palau and Marshall Islands.The Committee, which is composed of 18 independent experts, monitors how States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are complying with their obligations. The Government also notes in its report that the matter of children as victims and witnesses of crime has been addressed in the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015, which was enacted by the new Government in 2015.The Government also says it has taken significant efforts to eliminate child labour. This includes adoption of a list of 51 hazardous occupations and/or working conditions in which the employment of children is prohibited. (Colombo Gazette) During the meetings in Geneva, Committee members will hold question and answer sessions with the respective Government delegations. The sessions will be held at Palais Wilson, Ground Floor Conference Room, in Geneva and the review on Sri Lanka will be on January 15th and 16th. In its report submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child head of the review, Sri Lanka says the present Government has made a policy decision to strengthen its engagement with the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral bodies, including UN treaty bodies. This policy decision also characterises Sri Lanka’s continuing engagement with the Committee on the Rights of the Child.The Government says with the end of the war in May 2009, Sri Lanka faced new challenges of development and national reconciliation that needed to be addressed.These challenges included the rehabilitation of former LTTE recruits, particularly former child soldiers, reuniting them with their families, addressing educational needs, providing vocational training and reintegrating them into civilian life. The Committee’s final evaluation will be based on the written report and replies submitted by the State party, and the information provided supplied by the delegation as well as by other UN bodies and NGOs. Other serious challenges included resettlement of displaced persons, de-mining, restoration of infrastructure throughout the country, particularly in the North and East, and advancing reconciliation among communities. read more

Aysha Othman was sitting on her couch surrounded by stacks of study books preparing for her CPA exam, when her phone rang. She stared at it with a sinking feeling in her chest.It was her mother, calling her directly rather than through the app she usually used. The 21-year-old didn’t want to pick it up. She knew something was terribly wrong.She went numb, her mind blanking as her mom broke the news that her older brother Said, 24, was dead.She’d just spoken to him the day before.Within hours, Othman was on a plane headed home to Tanzania.She stayed for a month before returning to Brock University, where she graduated with a Master of Accountancy degree Saturday.“It’s probably going to be hard,” she said before convocation, her second this year. “It will be bittersweet.”Her brother Said was here in June to watch her walk across the stage for her Bachelor of Accounting degree. He was supposed to come back Oct. 17 along with her mother, aunt and cousin.He was very proud of her and her academic accomplishments. Shortly before his death, Said posted a collage of photos of the two of them on Facebook and bragged about her upcoming graduation.When she spoke to him the day before he died he said he was feeling unwell. He’d been battling an attack of sickle-cell anemia but it was Malaria that caused his death. With his compromised immune system, he couldn’t fight the mosquito-borne illness.She still can’t believe he’s gone. The loss hits her in the gut when she allows herself to think about him.He was her big brother. Her friend. Her inspiration.“I came to Canada because my older brother was studying here,” Othman says.Said went to the University of Toronto and studied finance and economics. Othman followed and started at Trent University before switching to Brock for its renowned accounting program.Othman is among the first graduates of the MAcc program at the Goodman School of Business. Brock was the first business school in Ontario to be accredited at the Master’s level by Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and Othman said the intensive program was challenging and rewarding. She strived to do her best, the thought of her brother a constant motivation.My brother left a huge footprint.In 2012, Said returned home to Tanzania, where their father is the country’s chief justice, to work as head of trading in a bank.“My brother left a huge footprint,” Othman says. “This was the biggest loss for our family.”Othman, a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honours Society, says her brother’s death has changed her path.“I have to re-evaluate my life and prioritize. Now I see how important family is,” she says. “I was planning to settle down here but now it makes sense for me to go back home.”She says she wants to be there for her family and to help enable her younger brother Amin, 20, to continue studying abroad in England, where he is working on a law degree at the University of Southampton.Because Othman missed her Chartered Professional Accountants exam – a three-day, intensive test that accountants must pass to be certified – when she went back to Tanzania, she will have to take it in May.Saturday Othman beamed as she graduated in front of her loved ones. She sat in the front row at the convocation ceremony and when she walked across the stage, she could hear the pride of her family as they cheered.“Our mom is always our No. 1 fan,” she said. “She comes to every graduation.”In June, Othman will be in England with her mom to watch as her younger brother accepts his degree. read more