Sr Nicola Emmanuel

Executive Director at Child Development Initiative

Active in Country: Sri Lanka

DTP Alumna: DTP's 2016 25th Annual Program - Sri Lanka

At the DTP training program we had a role-play on the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It never occurred to me that I will get a real-life experience at United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to present my case and the issues in Sri Lanka. DTP’s training helped me to take the voices of the victims to Geneva, so that the world could hear them and act.

Sr Nicola is a human rights defender in Sri Lanka.  She provides legal support, relief, rehabilitation, education and livelihood support to the families of the displaced, “disappeared” and imprisoned in Sri Lanka. She is Executive Director of Child Development Initiative in Sri Lanka, an organisation providing legal support and financial assistance to the victims and families of the missing persons and people in detention and prison.  She is also a member of the coordinating committee of North East Civil Society and supports the work of human rights defenders in reaching out to the victims of human rights violations. She organises and participates in protests against human rights violations and sexual abuse against women and children.

One year after the DTP program, Sr Nicola was invited to take part in the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2017. Sr Nicola put the DTP’s training into practice and met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein and other UN officials as well as international NGO representatives. She got the opportunity to tell her story firsthand - about her work and the plight of the families of the displaced, “disappeared” and imprisoned in Sri Lanka.

The experience I had in Geneva was very enriching. It was the first time attending the UN Human Rights Council. I met many UN dignitaries and other representatives of international NGOs who recognised me as a credible witness of the war and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. On 2nd March 2017, STP organized a side event on UN premises with the title “Sri: Lanka: Human Rights Challenges in Transitional Justice”, for which I was the keynote speaker. – Sr Nicola’s speech at the event

Representatives of various diplomatic missions (including the Sri Lankan Mission), international NGOs and Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora also attended the Side Event. 

The people I met in Geneva are constantly in contact with me now. I am able to share with them the plight of the people for a peaceful solution in Sri Lanka. I told the UN High Commissioner that the truth must be revealed regarding the “disappeared”, so that the victim can confront the perpetrator and pave the way for reconciliation. 

 

Profile written May 2017