Elders to be given rightful place in society

By Chandani Kirinde

Government will introduce amendments to the Protection of the Rights of Elders Act in Parliament next week, in order to expand benefits given to elders in the country, as well as punish those who violate their rights.

The amendments will ensure that no restrictions are placed on elders, on account of their age, by disallowing them into any buildings, places or institutions. The new amendments will also make it an offence to deny elders the use or enjoyment of any facility, benefit, advantage or service, because of their age.

The other benefits to elders from the new piece of legislation will include the issue of an Elders Identity Card, in order to facilitate them to receive benefits and concessions available to them from both the public and private sectors.

Leaders’ committees will also be established in every Grama Niladari Division, Divisional Secretary’s Divisions as well as in an administrative district and provincial council area, while conciliation officers conversant with the problem of the elders, will be appointed to assist them.

The amendments also require every person or organisation engaged in providing residential care for more than five elders, register their organisations with the National Council of Elders established under the original Act.

The Protection of the Rights of Elders Act was enacted in 2000 to promote and protect the welfare of elders and assist them to live with self respect, independence and dignity. Under this law, the State is bound to provide appropriate residential facilities to destitute elders who are without children, or are abandoned by their children, as well as ensure that the country complies with the appropriate international declarations and conventions relating to elders.

Under the Act, an "elder" means any person who has passed the age of 60 years.

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