In 1995 a significant set of reforms to the Sri Lanka penal code was enacted. The process was consultative and women’s groups were included in the discussions that led to the reforms. While the 1995 amendments were, by and large, a welcome modernization of the penal code, nineteen years after these amendments, still other laws remain which undermine women’s equality. The demand for further legal reform is about this ‘unfinished business’. At a time of elections Cat’s Eye particularly wants to highlight some laws (which apply to both men and women, and some to women in particular) that require urgent reform so that the public and political parties can take note.
On 22 October 2009, human rights defenders Ms Frederica Jansz and Ms Munza Mushataq received identical death threats by post, both of which had been hand-written in red ink. Frederica Jansz is Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Leader, and Munza Mushataq is the newspaper's News Editor. The founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, Mr Lasantha Wickramatunga, was murdered in January 2009, three weeks after receiving a similar death threat which had also been written in red ink.
The Cabinet has approved a proposal by the Minister of Justice and Law Milinda Moragoda to bring in certain reforms to the Muslim personal law and to uplift the system of Quazi courts and enhances the knowledge of Quazis.
Since 1983, Sri Lanka has experienced a civil ethnic conflict in the Northern and Eastern provinces that has resulted in life-threatening and traumatic experiences for women; loss of life, rape and being searched by armed groups are daily occurrences.
Fears are growing for the safety of the doctors who acted as the eyes and ears of the world during the Sri Lankan army's final assault on the Tamil Tigers's last stronghold in the north-east of the country.
The situation has reached a point of extreme urgency. With the government having resumed its military offensive after a two-day pause, the approximately 100,000 civilians trapped between the army and the LTTE are now at grave risk of mass atrocities.