18 November 2023


This report presents findings of an assessment of routine data collection gaps in the Justice for Children Sector in Sri Lanka. The recording of children’s encounters with the justice system by authorities and service providers is essential in order to understand the profile and circumstances of children who come into contact with the justice system, whether in conflict with the law, as victims or witnesses or in need of care and protection. It is also necessary for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the child justice system. High-quality and reliable data on the youth justice and child protection systems enables evidencebased policy development and implementation. It is also vital to the development of governance and regulatory structures and procedures; human resources development; identification of education and training needs; improved service delivery and financing; the ability to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the system, as well as being a valuable research tool. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations to Sri Lanka’s 5th and  6th periodic report recommended that the government establish a comprehensive data collection system to assess the progress achieved in realising children’s rights and to help design policies and programmes to implement the CRC.1 Bearing in mind this recommendation, the purpose of this assessment is a) to contribute to the development of an integrated and coordinated child protection / justice for children information management system, and b) to inform the monitoring2 of policies and programmes to realise children’s rights. The assessment is divided into two parts to meet the objectives: first, the availability of juvenile justice indicators, and second, the maturity of the juvenile justice data management processes. Juvenile Justice Indicators: The ability of an administrative system to produce data on a core set of data indicators provides important insights into the strength of that system. In order to monitor how well the justice system functions, the UNICEF 2021 publication, “Achieving Justice for Children” has developed ‘proposed minimum indicators’ on justice for children.3 These indicators cover key data points needed to monitor children in conflict with the law, diversion and sentencing measures, crimes against children and children in detention, including administrative detention. Juvenile Justice Data Management Processes: The monitoring of children’s access to justice through the monitoring of key juvenile justice data indicators is only possible if adequate, efficient data management processes are in place. UNICEF has developed a toolkit for Assessing Administrative Data Systems on Justice for Children,4 which sets out nine elements of a mature data management system (the legal and normative framework; governance and planning; data infrastructure; coordination of data; completeness of data; effective and secure data transmission; standardized data and practices; administrative data quality assurance, and data use, demand and dissemination).
14 February 2023

Reimagining a better Sri Lanka for our children

COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc in Sri Lanka in 2021 exacerbating the challenges faced by children and their families. The sudden surge in cases and further lockdowns severely impacted every aspect of life causing unprecedented difculties for the population. The third quarter of 2021 saw the COVID-19 caseload peak with the arrival of the Delta variant. The sharp rise in the number of patients needing treatment put a strain on the public health system, but adjustments to treatment methods supported by home-based care helped to somewhat ease the burden. By 31 December 2021, the caseload had risen to 587,935 with 14,979 deaths, including 61 children. The different waves and variants of the pandemic posed a huge risk to pregnant mothers and children. As of December 2021, 60 pregnant women had died from COVID-19. The disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic further compounded the socioeconomic vulnerabilities facing many households. To gain a better insight into the situation, UNICEF carried out five nationally representative household surveys, of which four were done over the phone, and three conducted in collaboration with UNDP. The latest round, held in July 2021, confirmed that many households’ income levels had not recovered to pre-COVID levels. In fact, 76 per cent of households reported losing all their income or having experienced a reduction. While the Government implemented a cash transfer response, the narrowing of eligibility criteria meant the number of households benefiting from this had diminished considerably.