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Consultations Task Force concludes work; recommends hybrid court, swift appointment of Special Prosecutor
Published Date: 05/01/2017 (Thursday)
A special task force set up by the Government to solicit public views on reconciliation and justice have recommended a hybrid court comprising local and foreign judges to prosecute war crimes, and urged the Government to appoint a special prosecutor to commence investigations into the controversial cases without delay. An islandwide consultation process on proposed Government mechanisms to bring about reconciliation and justice conducted over the course of a year ended on Tuesday, with the task force appointed for the purpose handing over its final report.
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Govt. says no to international judges – Rajitha
Published Date: 05/01/2017 (Thursday)
Co Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne says the government refutes the recommendation by the Consultations Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms to include at least one international judge on every bench hearing alleged war crimes charges. Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing this afternoon the Minister said even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights consented to the government’s decision that all benches will comprise local judges.
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The National Peace Council (NPC) presented the findings of its project, Post Conflict Healing: A Women’s Manifesto
Published Date: 05/01/2017 (Thursday)
The National Peace Council (NPC) presented the findings of its project, Post Conflict Healing: A Women’s Manifesto, at a national level meeting at SLIDA on December 15. The findings included policy briefing papers, a Women’s Manifesto and a video. The meeting was attended by Minister of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Mr. Mano Ganesan, Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms Mr. Mano Tittawella, Chairperson of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms Ms. Manouri Muttetuewgama, NPC Board Member and Founder and Chair of the Association of War Affected Women Ms. Visaka Dharmadasa, and Country Director (Sri Lanka) FOKUS Dr.Shyamala Gomez.
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President cancels visit to Jaffna due to “unscheduled meetings” in Colombo
Published Date: 05/01/2017 (Thursday)
President Maithripala Sirisena cancelled yesterday’s visit to Jaffna. A spokesman of the President told Express that “unscheduled meetings” in Colombo led to the cancellation. “But he will be visiting Jaffna on January 25 or any other suitable date before that,” the spokesman added. In Jaffna, he was to have inaugurated an island-wide mobile app facility to get in touch with the President and track the progress of requests through ministries and departments in the centre. He was also to release about 600 acres of private land presently held by the military.
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4th Constitution
Published Date: 04/01/2017 (Wednesday)
Sri Lanka's Second Republican Constitution of 1978 has been subjected to 20 amendments thus far in its short span of 38 years up to now. In contrast, according to Wikipedia, the 227-year-old US Constitution in the world's 'greatest' democracy has been subjected to 27 amendments thus far since its adoption in 1789, i.e. 13 years after the USA obtained its independence from the UK in 1776. Another six more amendments are in the pipeline, waiting ratification from the world's largest democracy's 50 States, to become law.
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Now, Mustapha refuses to accept delimitation report ... leaves media briefing in a huff
Published Date: 04/01/2017 (Wednesday)
Local government and Provincial Council Minister Faizer Mustapha has refused to accept the final report of the delimitation review committee. His action has fuelled speculation that the local government elections will be delayed further. Committee Chairman Ashoka Peiris tried to present the report to Minister Mustapha yesterday in Colombo in the presence of the media, but the latter declined to accept it. The delay in the submission of the report has led to the postponement of local government polls.
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Sirisena to push for amendments in Sino-Lankan pact on Hambantota port
Published Date: 04/01/2017 (Wednesday)
Given the billowing controversy over the Sino-Sri Lankan Framework Agreement (FA) on Hambantota port in south Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is all set to seek some significant amendments in it. He proposes to do so by appointing his own representative in the negotiating team. The Sunday Times reported that Sirisena met the Chinese Ambassador to sound him about this plan to appoint his own representative, Dr.Sarath Rajapatirana of the Institute of Policy Studies, to the negotiating team.
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The unitary Constitution needs to be preserved for posterity
Published Date: 03/01/2017 (Tuesday)
If a new Constitution will allow secessionist objectives to be realised the majority in this country will reject such a new Constitution or even an amendment to the present Constitution that would encourage the secession of their island nation. Many may be unaware that secessionist aims were born long before independence. Moving an amendment to the address of thanks to the Throne Speech in the first House of Representative on 26 November 1947, Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Q.C. said, “If Ceylon is fighting to secede from the British Empire why should not the Tamil people if they feel like it, secede from the rest of the country?” This was perhaps the first instance where the idea of a separate Tamil nation was articulated in this country. The LTTE under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran was able to rule over the Northern Province and certain parts of the Eastern Province for nearly three decades during a period in which the country had four executive presidents, J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, D.B.Wijetunga and Chandrika Kumaratunga.
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President assures Mahanayakes proposed new constitution will not be detrimental to the country
Published Date: 02/01/2017 (Monday)
President Maithripala Sirisena has informed the Mahanayakes of Asgiriya and Malwatte chapters that there will not be a single section in the proposed new constitution detrimental to the country’s interests. Meeting the Mahanayakes on Saturday (31), the President assured that the draft bill for the new Constitution would not be a document paving the way for the division of the country. Although some sections of society have expressed fear of the new constitution, there was nothing to worry as it would not be inimical to the unitary status of the country or the foremost status given to Buddhism.
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THE ILLEGALITY OF THE ONGOING CONSTITUTION-MAKING PROCESS IN SRI LANKA
Published Date: 02/01/2017 (Monday)
In this article I shall briefly explain why in my view the present constitution-making process in this country is illegal. My argument is based on three considerations: the difference between the amending procedure as set out in Chapter 12 of the constitution, and the present procedure; the nature of the power that Parliament wields when enacting legislation; the irreparable harm caused to the People if Parliament presumes to change the constitution without a mandate to bring such changes directly from the People.
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Pope Francis leads a mass on New Year's Day at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
Published Date: 01/01/2017 (Sunday)
Pope Francis in his New Year’s greetings Sunday declared 2017 will be good to the degree that people do good and reject hatred, as he prayed for those courageously dealing with terrorism gripping the world in “fear and bewilderment.” “The new year will be good in the measure in which each of us, with the help of God, tries to do good, day by day, that’s how peace is created,” Francis told a crowd of 50,000 pilgrims, tourists and Romans gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his noon blessing and New Year’s Day remarks.
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Why did PCs reject the Development Bill?
Published Date: 01/01/2017 (Sunday)
The controversial Development (Special Provisions) Bill has been rejected by all nine provincial councils where it had so far been presented, thus reflecting that they would veto the Bill which, according to the opposition parties, would give rise to ‘two all-powerful Super Ministers.’ The Bill, seemingly a programme by the UNP-led government to overhaul the national economy, aims at centralising all economic activities in every area including the provincial councils, with a common policy and plan. Though the Bill provides for the authorities to consult the Provincial Chief Ministers on the implementation of economic projects within the provinces, the provincial leaders seem to fear that their powers would ultimately be usurped and their views overruled by the proposed national economic policy and plan. Hence, this stands as the main reason, other than party politics, for the rejection of the Bill by the provincial councils.
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Gin-Nilwala diversion project: Rs. 4.1 billion paid to Chinese firm but no work
Published Date: 01/01/2017 (Sunday)
Payments amounting to more than Rs. 4.1 billion have been made to a Chinese contractor for the Gin-Nilwala Diversion Project, but no work has been carried out, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has told ministerial colleagues. In a note explaining the current situation over the project, he has said that a Committee of three senior officials had conveyed the copy of a report to the Department of National Budget in July last year. In terms of that, payments were made on December 30, 2014 Rs. 998,576,311, on January 6, 2015 Rs. 2,000,342,335 and January 7, 2015 Rs. 1,003,136,336. This had totalled Rs. 4,011,054,982.
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Sri Lanka's bleak political outlook in 2017
Published Date: 01/01/2017 (Sunday)
Sri Lanka's President and Prime Minister mark two years of their "unity" government in January with their uneasy coalition facing mounting challenges to its stability and cohesion. Our political correspondent examines the possible outcomes in 2017.
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MPs corrupt but call for closing down parliament unjustifiable – civil society
Published Date: 31/12/2016 (Saturday)
Parliamentary system couldn't be abolished though the vast majority of elected and appointed members were in politics for their personal benefit, the media was told on Thursday (Dec 29) at a press conference called by civil society grouping at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana. Addressing the media, Chameera Perera of Left Centre highlighted the mega duty free car vehicle permit scam perpetrated by members of political parties in parliament.
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Sri Lanka’s New Constitution – Return of the Divide and Rule
Published Date: 31/12/2016 (Saturday)
There are several foreseen dangers as influence is exerted from multiple quarters to change, rather dilute the present Constitution. No constitution is 100% perfect and no constitution can cater to the demands or even aspirations of all of its citizens. No constitution can or should be created based on the desires of a handful of people especially when their past records are questionable and not investigated. We are at a very critical juncture. We can no longer trust in the representatives we elect some of whom are rejected but hold key portfolios. There are important aspects for all citizens to now think of. Is it a coincidence that the players involved in the drafting of the new constitution all belong to a compartmentalized thinking and their thinking is funded by and supported by foreign parties.
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PM presents Draft Bill against Enforced Disappearance to Cabinet
Published Date: 31/12/2016 (Saturday)
A draft Bill to give effect to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) has been presented to Cabinet by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Law and Order have proposed amendments that have been sent back to the Prime Minister’s office for consideration. The Ministries of Finance and of Justice had also made observations.
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Sri Lanka's influential ex-leader opposes land for Chinese investment
Published Date: 31/12/2016 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka's former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday criticised a government plan to grant 15,000 acres for Chinese investment in his constituency, saying it will deprive people of agricultural land. Rajapaksa, chided by the West and India for his close relations with China during his rule, is now agitating against President Maithripala Sirisena government's moves to attract investment as he seeks to rally support under a new party.
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Year 2017 for Sri Lanka ; Reading outside Astrology
Published Date: 31/12/2016 (Saturday)
Year 2017 dawns with all arrangements including a week for "reconciliation" put in place to celebrate two years of Maithripala Sirisena presidency and Wickramasinghe government, beginning from 09 January 2015. More precisely, it would be 02 years celebrated for ousting the Rajapaksas. UNP on its own was conceded as no strong contender to floor Rajapaksa. Wickramasinghe thus agreed on Sirisena as the Common Candidate to defeat Rajapaksa. Ousting Rajapaksa is all what the Colombo "civil society" owners too wanted. They still cry proud not about them winning but about them defeating Rajapaksa. Everything else is unimportant for them even now.
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Rajapaksa’s theory on India’s silence over successor regime’s tilt towards China
Published Date: 30/12/2016 (Friday)
Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said here on Thursday, that India is silent over the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s unmistakable tilt towards China probably because it has been promised control over Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai harbors and the Palaly airport in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern provinces to balance China’s control over Hambantota harbor. At a meeting with resident foreign correspondents, Rajapaksa wondered why India, which made such a fuss over the visit of an Chinese nuclear submarine and helped the US oust him from power, is silent over the present government’s pronounced tilt towards China.
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Federalism addresses minority rights: Prof. R. Sivachandran
Published Date: 30/12/2016 (Friday)
Prof. R. Sivachandran, a Central Committee member of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), in an interview with the Dailymirror by email, advocates the Federal structure of government for the North and East. The ITAK is the dominant ally of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the moment. Expressing views at the time a constitution-making process is underway, he says powers cannot be devolved under a unity form of government as in today, fulfilling the aspirations of the Tamil people. Excerpts of the interview.
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CaFFE to sue Delimitation Committee
Published Date: 29/12/2016 (Thursday)
The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) is mulling legal action against members of the Appeals Committee on Demarcation of Boundaries and the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils for deliberately delaying the local council elections. "The Appeals Committee on Demarcation of...... Boundaries and the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils has united to deliberately delay the Local Council Elections . Hence, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) will take legal action against those who are involved in this conspiracy," CaFFE Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said.
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GL dismisses Sumanthiran comment as racist utterance
Published Date: 29/12/2016 (Thursday)
Former UPFA External Affairs Minister and Joint Opposition member Prof G.L.Pieris yesterday dismissed as a racist utterance, a statement made by TNA parliamentarian M. Sumanthiran that the accused in the Raviraj murder case had been freed because the jury were all Sinhalese. Prof. Pieris, addressing a news conference at the Dr. N.M.Perera Centre at Borella, accused Sumanthiran of sowing seeds of hatred instead of promoting reconciliation.
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Ads for prefabricated houses but opposition continues
Published Date: 28/12/2016 (Wednesday)
The Resettlement Ministry has called for applications from the public via newspaper advertisements for its ArcelorMittal prefabricated houses, amidst continued grassroots opposition to the project. The Kilinochchi District Coordination Committee (DCC) passed a unanimous resolution yesterday stating that no prefabricated houses should be given to the people of the district. Earlier, the Jaffna DCC had approved a similar resolution. More than 100 people also attended a protest this week at which petitions were given to the Kilinochchi Government Agent to be conveyed to the President and Prime Minister.
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US threat on UN, a further waning of US influence: Kohona
Published Date: 28/12/2016 (Wednesday)
Former chief of the UN treaty section and a former permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Palitha Kohona said that the US threatening the UN with financial sanctions would only result in the further waning of US influence in the UN and globally. “To threaten the UN with financial sanctions would only result in the further waning of US influence in the UN and globally. All countries, especially countries like the US, must continue to work together to make the world a better place,” he told IPS.
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