South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The Citizens Peace Award was established in 2010 by the National Peace Council (NPC) to honour those Sri Lankan individuals in civil society who are resident in Sri Lanka and have stood up for the protection of and enforcement of human rights and fundamental rights when such rights are under threat and such action requires unusual courage and self-sacrifice to do so.

Another criterion considers outstanding efforts to promote understanding between and among communities through initiatives taken for the peaceful settlement of disputes among and between them. An important consideration in the choice of the person for the Award is the requirement for such work to be carried out in hostile conditions requiring self-sacrifice.

The selection of the winner is by the Board of Directors of the NPC and is ratified by its Governing Council. The prize is made possible by funds received from the Sakai City Government’s Peace Contribution Award and the National Peace Council.

The Citizens Peace Award for 2012 of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka has been awarded to J.C. Weliamuna, human rights lawyer, activist and Chairman of Transparency International, Sri Lanka. In honouring him with this award, the National Peace Council considered the courage, commitment and leadership he has demonstrated in a consistent manner over a long period in working for human rights, people’s empowerment through law and justice for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. The awards ceremony took place on 18 September 2013, at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies in the presence of members of civil society and the diplomatic community.

Chairman of NPC, Tony Senewiratne, speaking on the occasion said, “To all of us at NPC and a great number of Sri Lankans and others beyond our shore, the name the J.C. Weliamuna, stands out as a defender of justice and human rights.” President of the Sarvodaya Movement, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne who delivered a personal tribute on the occasion, said he considered the award of the prize to Weliamuna, to be “An expression of gratitude on behalf of the citizenry for the principles that he has upheld, and the dedication and commitment he has demonstrated throughout his professional career as a lawyer, during different challenging phases of our country’s recent political history.”

Weliamuna, a lawyer by profession, is presently involved with litigation to vindicate human and fundamental rights. He is providing exemplary leadership to several people’s movements in the country to strengthen democracy. Among them are the Lawyers’ Movement to protect the independence of the judiciary, the civil society movement to repeal the Executive Presidency and the Platform for Freedom that seeks to bring together civil society and political parties on the common themes of human rights and civil liberties. As a leading lawyer, he has appeared in hundreds of cases for victims of human rights violations and contributed to changing human rights jurisprudence in the country.

The citation for the award stated that, ‘The readiness to assist those individuals and institutions in need of legal assistance due to abuse of power, to champion larger political causes that seek justice and equity for all, and to take extreme personal risks in work done for the sake of others are some of the hallmarks of J.C. Weliamuna.’

Source: Ceylon Today – 23.09.2013 –