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February 23, 2017 [GMT]
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Human Rights Watch asks Sri Lanka to adopt Task Force justice proposals
[Wednesday 2017-01-11 18:00]

The New York-based global human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Sri Lankan government to adopt recommendations of the Consultation Task Force on including foreign judges in a domestic mechanism on accountability as stated in the consensus resolution the country sponsored with the United Nations Human Right Council. Sri Lanka's government should promptly implement recommendations on transitional justice proposed by the Consultation Task Force (CTF) in a report released on January 3, 2017, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The New York-based global human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Sri Lankan government to adopt recommendations of the Consultation Task Force on including foreign judges in a domestic mechanism on accountability as stated in the consensus resolution the country sponsored with the United Nations Human Right Council. Sri Lanka's government should promptly implement recommendations on transitional justice proposed by the Consultation Task Force (CTF) in a report released on January 3, 2017, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

  

The report reflects the first broad survey of Sri Lankan citizens on their aspirations for truth and justice, as called for by the October 2015 resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Key among the task force's recommendations is the creation of a war crimes court comprised of both international and national judges and other officials, with no time limit on its jurisdiction.

"The task force report is remarkably comprehensive and clear in setting out the concerns and needs expressed by Sri Lankans across all communities on the transitional justice process," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The government should now own the report's recommendations and set out a framework for putting them into action, in line with its pledges at the Human Rights Council." The Consultation Task Force appointed by the Prime Minister in February 2016 received 7,306 submissions on disappearances from the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, and other communities, as well as the security services during the course of their hearings. The CTF which concluded its consultations in August 2016 reported that there had been no government interference or attempts to impede their work, and that the report reflected the views of all 11 members.

In a news conference held after the report's release, CTF members noted that concerns about justice and accountability were raised both in the country's north and south by many in all communities. The new government undertook a more conciliatory approach to domestic and international efforts to address the wartime accountability, and in October 2015 agreed at the UN Human Rights Council to establish at least four mechanisms on transitional justice, of which the consultations were part, the HRW said. Sri Lanka is on the March 2017 agenda of the Human Rights Council, where High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is expected to report on Sri Lanka's compliance with the resolution. This will include the government's willingness to promptly implement the CTF report recommendations. However, the HRW said the immediate response by senior officials has been disappointing.

Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksha and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne both separately ruled out the participation of foreign nationals on the special court, while Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that President Maithripala Sirisena rejected the inclusion of foreign judges and would not allow the government to prosecute "war heroes."

The cabinet spokesperson, Minister Senaratne claimed that Al Hussein had agreed that there should be no foreign involvement in the court during a previous meeting - a claim that Al Hussein himself immediately rejected, according to the Human Rights Watch. HRW pointed out that the report recommendations also contain important confidence-building measures that the government could adopt immediately. These include a robust victim-witness protection law, meaningful outreach by the government across all communities, symbolic gestures to allow public grieving and memorialization, and a minority rights commission.

"The Sri Lankan government took the bold step of agreeing to a multi-ethnic task force for broad consultations on transitional justice," Adams said. "Now that the task force has listened to the country, it's crucial that the government doesn't drop its key recommendations. The government should recognize that its commitments were not only to concerned governments in Geneva, but to its own citizens seeking justice and reconciliation after a terrible war."

  
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Human Rights Watch urges Sri Lanka to end police abuse, repeal PTA
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

The global rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Sri Lankan government has not met its pledge to curtail police abuses prior to the March 2017 session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Reminding that security sector reform was one of 25 undertakings by Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council resolution adopted by consensus in October 2015, the New York based HRW said the Sri Lankan government has failed to repeal the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) or take serious measures to reduce torture in custody.



CA issues notices to acquitted respondents in Raviraj case
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

Satisfied with the submission made by the counsel for the wife of slain TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj, the Court of Appeal yesterday (21) issued notices to the respondents, returnable for 28 February. The bench comprised Justices H.C.J. Madawala and L.T.B. Dehideniya. In the revision application, the petitioner, Sasikala Raviraj is seeking the Court to revise and set aside the order of the High Court judge allowing the request of the accused for the case to be tried before a jury as well as his verdict of acquittal.



War tribunals only for the wrongdoers - Chandrika
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

With the establishment of the office of the missing persons (OMP), not all military personnel, but only those who done very bad things will be tried by military tribunals, says ex-president Chandrika Kumaratunga. Speaking in Colombo yesterday (20), she refuted the belief by some in the military that the OMP would take all to military tribunals. The establishment of the OMP to ensure justice for victims of the war is in its final stage, and will become functional this year, she said.



Norwegian firms keen on investing in Sri Lanka ports: envoy
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

Norwegian companies are interested in investing in Sri Lanka’s shipping and ports sector, the country’s envoy Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether has said. Norway is s small country and lacks the money to make big investments like in China and India, he was quoted as saying in a statement by the ports and shipping ministry. But Norway is world renowned for its maritime industry expertise and experience, Norwegian ambassador Gaustadsaether said.



Screening ‘No Fire Zone’ illegally Lena Hendry found guilty
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

Activist Lena Hendry has been found guilty, by a Malaysian Magistrate's Court yesterday, for allegedly screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war without the approval of the Censor Board. Magistrate Mohd Rezan Mohd Aris found the Pusat Komas programme manager guilty of censorship charges after the defence failed to prove reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case.



Navy commander’s service extended by six months
[Wednesday 2017-02-22 17:00]

The service of Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne has been extended by six months by President Maithripala Sirisena. He was appointed the 20th Navy Commander on July 2015 and his term of office was to be expired tomorrow. Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne joined the Navy on November 1, 1980. He is a past student of Royal College in Colombo.



Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar urges Tamil National Alliance to unite to fight for Tamils’ rights
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has urged the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to unite to fight for the Tamils’ rights, including their rights under the proposed constitution, and cooperate with India in the economic development of the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces. Meeting the TNA top brass ahead of his meetings with the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe here on Monday, Jaishankar asked the Tamil leadership about their concerns so that he could take them up with the Sri Lankan government leaders.



SL failed to end Police abuse: HRW
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

The Sri Lankan government has not met its pledge to curtail police abuses prior to the March 2017 session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. Issuing a statement, the HRW said security sector reform was one of 25 undertakings by Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council resolution adopted by consensus in October 2015. It said the Sri Lankan government has failed to repeal the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act or take serious measures to reduce torture in custody.



ITJP challenges SL govt. to investigate
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

The International Truth and Justice Project has shared information with the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) identifying six alleged perpetrators of rape and torture in the Sri Lankan military. “When it meets on 22nd February in Geneva, we expect CEDAW to share this information with the Sri Lankan Government and request that they immediately suspend the six officers pending a credible investigation,” said ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka.



Armed police mobile squads
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

Armed Police Mobile Squads have been deployed throughout the Jaffna District in an effort to tackle the threat posed to the public by the criminal group 'AAVA', sources said yesterday. They said squads have already been deployed covering 17 Police divisions in the Kankasanthurai area and they will operate on a 24-hour basis. Each squad will consist of five well armed police officers to deal with any emergency. The mobile squads have also been directed to place roadblocks and check suspicious vehicles while providing security to the public.



TNA to move motion
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

The TNA will move an adjournment motion on “Sri Lanka’s International Obligations” tomorrow in Parliament. The debate on the motion will be taken up from 2pm to 7pm. The debate comes amidst the heat of preparations for the 34th regular session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva from February 27 to March 24. The debate will focus on the country’s progress, drawbacks and way ahead with regard to the undertakings mentioned in the 2015 Geneva resolution to which Sri Lanka was also a co-sponsor.



Assault on Keith Noyahr: Five soldiers suspended
[Tuesday 2017-02-21 18:00]

Five Army soldiers remanded in connection with the abduction and assault on senior journalist Keith Noyahr in 2008 were suspended from service with immediate effect, the Army Media said. Spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne said their suspension would be valid till the CID investigation was completed. A Major and four others were remanded until February 23.



Sumanthiran lobbying in Geneva
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran, who is currently in Geneva, urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) officials not to allow Sri Lanka to make any change in the original resolution co-sponsored with the UNHRC by the country in 2015. Sumanthiran met the UNHRC officials in Geneva on Saturday (18) morning where he briefed extensively on the failures in implementing the key aspects of the UNHRC resolution of 2015 by the Lankan Government. Sumanthiran speaking at the UNHRC Commissioner's office said that the Lankan Government has not fulfilled its commitment on appointing foreign judges to investigate into the alleged war crime.



Amorous ex-Major deported from US
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

A retired Major who was sent to Hawaii by the Disaster Management Ministry for a special training had been deported to Sri Lanka on Saturday night by the US authorities for allegedly sexually harassing a girl. Disaster Management Ministry Secretary S S Miyanawala told the Daily News yesterday that the work of the above officer has been temporarily suspended and an institutional level disciplinary inquiry would be held over the incident.



Sri Lanka Tamil party to support government despite failure to resolve Tamil people's issues
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance says as a political party, it will continue to support the government although it has not yet provided the solutions to issues of the people in the North despite the promise to do so. Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C.V.K. Sivagnanam said the government should pay more attention to the issues faced by those in the North.



Pillayan re-remanded for 31st time
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

The former Eastern Province chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was today further remanded till March 6 for the 31st time by Batticaloa Magistrate M. Ganesharaja. The CID arrested him in 2015 in connection with the assassination of former MP Joseph Pararajasingham.



US House of Representatives to strengthen US-Lanka ties
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

A bipartisan delegation from the US House of Representatives arrives in Colombo today for three days of meetings as part of the House Democracy Partnership (HDP). The US Embassy in Colombo said the HDP delegation is pleased to continue the important partnership begun with the signing of a Collaboration Agreement between the US House of Representatives and the Parliament of Sri Lanka on September 14, 2016 in Washington D.C. The visit serves to underscore the strong bipartisan support for Sri Lanka in the US Congress.



Wimal further remanded
[Monday 2017-02-20 16:00]

Former Minister Wimal Weerawansa was further remanded till March 6 by Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne today. Meanwhile, the second suspect the former DGM of the National Engineering Corporation (NEC) was released on a cash bail of Rs. 50, 000 with two sureties of 1 million each. The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on the suspect. Both suspects were arrested by the FCID on charges of misusing 40 state vehicles belonging to the NEC and causing a financial loss of Rs. 90 million to the state during 2011-2014.



Attack on Noyahr: Three army men remanded, shocking details emerge
[Sunday 2017-02-19 18:00]

Criminal Investigation Detectives yesterday arrested an Army officer and two Sergeants over the May 2008 attack on journalist Keith Noyahr. The arrests came after the trio were summoned to CID headquarters on Friday and interrogated. The trio are Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sergeant Duminda Weeraratne and Sergeant Hemachandra Perera. The formal arrests were made yesterday after interrogation overnight. Two more soldiers from the Army’s Military Intelligence are now being interrogated.



Nine killed in Katukurunda boat tragedy
[Sunday 2017-02-19 18:00]

At least nine bodies had been recovered following a boat tragedy in the seas off Katukurunda today, the Police said. They said around 20 boats had left Beruwala coast to attend a festival in Kalutara this morning and one of the boat had capsized. Police said another eight persons were receiving treatment at the Nagoda Hospital. The bodies were taken to the Hospital. The Navy and the Police are continuing search for other victims.


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