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Torture continues in Lanka due to weaknesses in law: UN
Published Date: 09/05/2016 (Monday)
Sri Lanka continues to use torture mechanisms even after the end of the civil war due to weaknesses in law, a top UN official said here today and described the condition of detention camps and prisons in the country as "deplorable". "Torture continues in the system due to weaknesses in law," said Juan E Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
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Sri Lanka to receive US$ 3 billion loan for infrastructure development
Published Date: 09/05/2016 (Monday)
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has promised a loan of US$ 3 billion for infrastructure development. In addition the ADB will grant a separate aid for the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector. The loan facility given under a concessionary interest rate will be given to Sri Lanka through the next three years. The loan agreement was reached during the 49th ADB Finance Ministers’ summit in Frankfurt, Germany last week. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake represented the country.
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Constitutional developments in Pakistan, Sri Lanka & India have similarities: Experts
Published Date: 08/05/2016 (Sunday)
Addressing the conference organised by PILDAT on 6 May entitled, “Lessons for Constitutional Development in South Asia” Conference, three constitutional experts, one each from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, said that the constitutions and constitutional developments in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India offer similarities as well as opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences. Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner Wijayanthi Edirisinghe, Vice Chancellor, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, India Professor Dr Ishwara Padil Bhat and Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan and Federal Minister Shahid Hamid spoke at the conference.
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EU links human rights to trade: 58 conditions for GSP Plus
Published Date: 08/05/2016 (Sunday)
In its haste to regain the GSP Plus facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with the European Union (EU) to implement a sprawling list of 58 conditions linking human rights, national security and other domestic concerns with trade, a document obtained by the Sunday Times shows. Among the 58 conditions imposed are to revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act, to expedite cases of remaining detainees, to introduce a new Human Rights Action Plan, review the status of the Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals on the terrorist list, to devolve power under the new Constitution, return all private lands to owners in the North, adopt a policy of National Reconciliation and on National Resettlement, finalise the re-settlement of all displaced persons, and to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances with accompanying legislation as well as issue certificates of absence.
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Sri Lanka Campaign-UK publishes its report Path to Peace.
Published Date: 07/05/2016 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka Campaign has recently published its report entitled “Sri Lanka’s path to peace”. The report is based on the testimony of nearly 300 war survivors and activists working in the north and east of Sri Lanka, and outlines their views on what would be needed to convert the current absence of war in the region into a lasting and sustainable peace. The report argues that structural violence continues to be a part of the daily lives of many in the north and east of Sri Lanka, and that if Sri Lanka’s peace is to be made permanent this must be addressed through a comprehensive reform of Sri Lanka’s security forces, by placing war survivors in positions of authority within any new processes that are established, and by the Sri Lankan government adopting a new attitude towards dealing with the past in which defensiveness is replaced by openness.
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Freedom from Torture documents continuing torture in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 07/05/2016 (Saturday)
Freedom from Torture, the UK-based human rights organisation, is calling for urgent action by the Government of Sri Lanka to end ongoing torture. The charity publishes new information as the joint visit to Sri Lanka by UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Professor Juan Méndez, and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mónica Pinto, comes to an end on Saturday. The Sri Lankan Government has made encouraging commitments to delivering truth, justice and reconciliation. However, while torture is still being practised any efforts towards long-term stability are undermined. The number of referrals Freedom from Torture has received for people tortured since the January 2015 presidential election is deeply worrying.
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First Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan Elected in London
Published Date: 07/05/2016 (Saturday)
Sadiq Khan - a Labour Party leader, a former human rights lawyer and a son of a bus driver from Pakistan - was declared the winner of the London Mayoral election held on Thursday, 5 April. He will be the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital and making him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West. The victory also said to have made a British political history. In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, Sadiq Khan victory is a major victory for democracy.
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China as a Development Actor in Southeast Asia
Published Date: 06/05/2016 (Friday)
The recently published Institute of Development Studies’ (IDS) Evidence Report (No.187), identifies and explains the central factors driving China’s policies towards Southeast Asia. It examines China’s foreign relations through the perspective of foreign policy. In this context, as the title indicates, the report gathers together and evaluates the evidence on China’s role as a development actor in this neighbouring region. The study aims to contribute to evidence-based policy deliberation, formulation and implementation.
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U.S. Debate Erupts in California Over Curriculum on India’s History
Published Date: 06/05/2016 (Friday)
Vidhima Shetty, a high school freshman in San Ramon, Calif. She said that using the term South Asian was akin to asking her to change her name. Victors are said to write history. But in California, history is being written by a committee that is at the center of a raging debate over how to tell the story of South Asia as it tries to update textbooks and revise curriculums for Grades 6 and 7.
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UN Special Rapporteurs to visit to Sri Lanka
Published Date: 05/05/2016 (Thursday)
The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mónica Pinto, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, have undertaken a joint visit to Sri Lanka from April 29 to May 7,2016, at the invitation of the government. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the previous UN Special Rapporteur on torture visited Sri Lanka in 2010, this will be the first visit to Sri Lanka by a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
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STF to provide security to VVIPs
Published Date: 05/05/2016 (Thursday)
As part of its policy to relieve the army from civilian and internal policing duties, the Sri Lankan government has taken the army off VVIP security duties and has given the task entirely to the police, especially the police commandos designated as the Special Task Force (STF). But the decision to replace the army ran into a political storm when, recently, the government withdrew the last 50 of the 102 army personnel who were guarding former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
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Sri Lankan Parliament brawl: MPs wounded
Published Date: 05/05/2016 (Thursday)
Nasty brawl broke out in the Sri Lankan parliament on Tuesday, 3rd May, following ex-Army Chief Sarath Fonseka claimed that the 2006 bomb blast targeting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, was an “inside job”. Fonseka added that the attack was carried out to gain sympathy of the public. These assertions enraged MPs loyal to Mahinda and led to the physical violence. Following the scuffle between UNP’s Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA’s Prasanna Ranaweera , a unanimous vote called for the suspension of two of its members for a period of one week. The heated exchange of words soon turned into a violent exchange of blows. It was reported that this was the worst brawl the Sri Lankan parliament has seen in the past 12 years.
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May Day Rallies in Jaffna
Published Date: 02/05/2016 (Monday)
May Day rallies in Jaffna witnessed several divisions amongst Tamil political parities, said a veteran activist from Jaffna. Four May Day rallies were held in Jaffna -TNA, mainly ITAK held its meeting at the Maruthanamadam Ramanathan College premises, while the TNPF at Pointpedro, the New Democratic Marxist Leninist party at Puttur and the Ceylon Teachers Association and University Workers union was held at the Jaffna University.
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Former LTTE Batticaloa Intelligence chief arrested
Published Date: 02/05/2016 (Monday)
Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Batticaloa arrested the former LTTE member and chief of LTTE Intelligence unit. Krishnapillai Kalainesan, alias “Prabha. who has been rehabilitated at the Army Wellikanda Rehabilitation Centre. He was release in 2013 The Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi has refused to provide any details of arrest when journalists questioned him about the arrest.
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No LTTE to support – President CTC
Published Date: 01/05/2016 (Sunday)
President of the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) Raj Thavaratnasingham in an interview with Ceylon Today said he was pleased that the government has delisted CTC and a few other Tamil diaspora organizations. "As a result of the delisting of CTC, for the very first time we were able to raise funds to build houses for war widows in Sampur. We have built 18 houses and handed them over to deserving owners and another 23 houses are to be built in the second phase, for which funding has already been secured," he added. Excerpts:
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SL will fudge HR issues due to weak political will: UK Forum
Published Date: 01/05/2016 (Sunday)
Participants at a London seminar on ‘Sri Lanka and the challenges facing it’, claimed that the President Maithripala Sirisena government lacked the political will to implement some of the worthwhile and progressive recommendations to emerge from Commissions inquiring into Human Rights (HR) issues arising from the ethnic conflict. It was also claimed that, though the new government co-sponsored the US initiated Resolution passed by the UNHR Council last September, the government was likely to make only symbolic gestures to be seen to be meeting its obligations to satisfy the Council.
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Number of Guantanamo detainees continues to drop as they are transferred to countries.
Published Date: 30/04/2016 (Saturday)
Over the past month, 11 prisoners have been released from Guantánamo Bay, bringing the prisoner population down to 80. On 3 April, 2 Libyan prisoners were transferred to Senegal on humanitarian grounds. Libya is one of several countries to which prisoners cannot be currently repatriated. The two men, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr, 43, and Salem Abdul Salem Ghereby, 55, were captured in Pakistan in late 2001 and sold to the US military who took them to Guantánamo. Both men are alleged to have been members of anti-Gaddafi militant groups in Libya, a regime overthrown by the US and its allies in 2011. One of the men is crippled and is missing a leg. The government of Senegal said that it accepted the men, who have been held without charge or trial for over 14 years, on humanitarian grounds
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The return of the white van
Published Date: 28/04/2016 (Thursday)
The Tamil Guardian today reported two “white van abductions”; incidents in which unidentified persons driving a “Dolphin” van snatched individuals off the streets. This follows three similar incidents in recent weeks: former LTTE commander, Kanathippillai Sivamoorthy (also known as Nagulan), was reportedly abducted in Jaffna on 26th April; former LTTE commander, Ram, was reported as abducted in the Eastern province on 24th April; and a Tamil man was reportedly abducted by a white van from his home in Jaffna on 10th April. The three previously reported abductees all turned up in detention having been remanded by Sri Lanka’s Terrorist Investigation Department (TID). It remains to be seen whether the two latest abductees have also been arrested in such an unorthodox manner.
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FURTHER DISREGARD OF TAMIL POLITY WILL FURTHER JUSTIFY FEDERALISM--Jehan Perera
Published Date: 27/04/2016 (Wednesday)
Further disregard of Tamil Polity will further justify federalism”, says Dr. Jehan Perera, Executive Director, National Peace Council (NPC) of Sri Lanka. In the recent NPC statement, he said, “The Northern Provincial Council led by its Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran has passed a resolution for the government to take up in the constitutional reform process. The main feature of the resolution is to merge the Northern and Eastern provinces into a single federal unit.
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Questions of Haste, Urgency and Consultations in Transitional Justice
Published Date: 23/04/2016 (Saturday)
On a recent visit to the United States, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera made a revealing series of comments in response to a question at a forum organized by the United States Institute of Peace. When asked about the government’s timeline to introduce what the government calls “reconciliation mechanisms”, his response reflected his view that controversial Transitional Justice (TJ) mechanisms must be initiated quickly, without much delay. Citing Margaret Thatcher, he claimed that the most controversial aspects of a government’s agenda must be implemented within “a year or two” of its assumption of office.
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Sri Lankan prime minister criticized for being anti-people
Published Date: 22/04/2016 (Friday)
Fishermen and environmental activists including Christian priests and nuns protest against the Sri Lankan government's decision to go ahead with the Chinese-funded Colombo Port City Project. Priests and environmentalists have criticized Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for reneging on his promise to scrap a controversial Chinese-funded port city project.
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Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka
Published Date: 22/04/2016 (Friday)
According to the latest ‘Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka’ survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Sri Lankans have a low level of confidence in the Government’s commitment towards eradicating corruption in the country. While 40.8% are of the opinion that the Government is not committed towards eradicating corruption in the country, 34.5% say that the Government is committed. The decrease in the level of confidence is seen when compared to October 2015 data, where 49.6% of Sri Lankans were of the opinion that the Government is committed towards eradicating corruption in the country.
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Sri Lanka moves up in 2016 World Press Freedom Index
Published Date: 22/04/2016 (Friday)
Sri Lanka has ranked at 141st place in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index compiled by the Reporters Without Borders - Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) which was published on 20 April 2016 The country was ranked at 165th place in the index in 2015. The index report published on RSF website said Sri Lanka had freed itself of the reign of terror imposed by the Rajapaksa family and its allies by electing Maithripala Sirisena as President.
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Defence Ministry server update confuses foreign passengers travelling north
Published Date: 21/04/2016 (Thursday)
A server update of Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence (MoD) website has confused foreign passengers as it required the foreign passport holders to obtain MoD approval prior to their visit to north. The MoD web link which still exists said that the Foreign Passport holders traveling to the following areas in the North are required to inform the MOD & UD and obtain prior approval.
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Sri Lanka : Why Investigations Into Mass Graves Failed So Far
Published Date: 21/04/2016 (Thursday)
The existence of a mass grave may come to the notice of the public by many different ways; a statement by a witness made during a court hearing - as in the case of Chemmani Mass Graves: discoveries of some scattered remains of bones by workers when digging a site for constructions purposes, as in the case of the Matale mass grave; or by surfacing of some remains of human bodies as a result of heavy rains or due to any other accidental reasons
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