As a member of the "Sri Lanka Advocacy" (SLA) network, the UEM has for the first time set up a coordination office in the Wuppertal Mission House, where Franziska Koch has worked part-time as coordinator since 1 May 2020. The studied spatial planner had previously worked for three years in a human rights organisation for the improvement of participation opportunities for people with impairments/disabilities in the non-formal education sector in Essen. When asked where her interest in advocacy activities on Sri Lanka came from, Koch replies: "I spent half a year researching in Sri Lanka for my master's thesis. My new task in the network thus perfectly combines my interest in Sri Lanka and my experience in human rights work".
Franziska Koch has taken over the coordination activities from Dr Theodor Rathgeber, who will accompany her in a transitional phase until the end of the year. The thematic priorities of her work at SLA include reconciliation work, measures to strengthen the rule of law and minority rights, coming to terms with recent human rights violations and the consequences of war with the help of international legal instruments. In view of this portfolio of tasks, she assesses the current challenges for "Sri Lanka Advocacy" in the politically unstable island state as follows: "The postponement of the parliamentary elections, which were originally scheduled for April 2020 and have now been postponed to August 2020 due to corona, creates a political vacuum. As a network, we expect a deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, especially for freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. It will be a challenge to work with the increasingly nationalist structures in Sri Lanka."
The aim of the SLA Network is to influence decision-makers and multipliers in Germany, the EU and at UN level through public relations and lobbying work in order to contribute to an improvement of the human rights situation and the rule of law in Sri Lanka. Since its foundation in 2010 and in cooperation with project-funded NGOs and individuals, the network has produced specialist publications, organised conferences, held expert talks and participated in international networks.
Martina Pauly (Communication & Media)
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