Avalanche of complaints regarding non-implementation of language regulations

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Centre for Policy Alternatives Executive Director Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu yesterday said that his organisation had received an avalanche of complaints regarding the violations of the language regulations.

He said that the CPA had submitted 20 complaints to the Human Rights Commission, 22 to the Official Languages Commission (OLC), five to the Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) and filed two Fundamental Rights (FR) cases in the Supreme Court.

The principal goal of the programmes carried out by CPA was to secure the fundamental rights of minorities with the focus on language rights in Sri Lanka, Dr. Saravanamuttu said. The most effective approach was to bring about an attitudinal change among members of all communities, especially the youth and children, so as to make them realise the need for understanding and respecting other cultures and languages and that was the way to achieve national reconciliation, Dr. Saravanamuttu told a media conference, on Promoting Language Rights in Sri Lanka, at the National Library Auditorium.

He said that many communities in the country had been deprived of access to information. Although it was an accepted policy that all State institutions should have name-boards, official documentation etc. in all three languages, it was not properly implemented, he said.

Dr. Saravanamuttu pointed out that product information, in the pharmaceutical industry, of almost all drugs and equipment was available only in English, though the Sinhala and Tamil speaking consumers made up the majority in the country. When they purchased drugs, they had no idea of the quantities, dosages, side effects, alternative brands or other relevant information important to patients, he said.

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