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October 24, 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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Man shot dead by two gunmen in Jaffna
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

A 24-year-old man was killed when two unidentified gunmen opened fired at him at Ariyalai in Jaffna yesterday. Police said the victim was traveling in a motorcycle with another when the shooting occurred. The victim, Don Bosco Dino, a resident of Ariyale succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at the Jaffna Hospital. The Jaffna Police are investigating.



UN warns case against Jagath could be tip of the iceberg Top News
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

The United Nations (UN) today warned that the case filed in Brazil against former Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya could be the “tip of the iceberg”. Pablo de Greiff, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence told reporters in Colombo that Sri Lanka must address allegations similar to that faced by Jayasuriya or it may prove costly.



Release Political Prisoners! Top News
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

National Movement for the Release of Political Prisoners today staged a protest outside the Supreme Court calling for the release of political prisoners.



TNA wants all arrested under PTA released, now
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

TNA and Opposition leader R. Sampanthan has called for the immediate release of all persons arrested under the PTA during and after the war, in talks with United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo DE GREIFF, on Saturday.



MR Delhi bound
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

Former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to visit new Delhi this month. Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris is expected to accompany the ex-President.



One killed, seven arrested in a shootout with STF
[Monday 2017-10-23 18:00]

One individual was shot dead and another seven suspects arrested during a shootout with a team of the Special Task Force this afternoon at Henegedara in Divulapitiya, Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera said. “The STF received information that an armed gang was roaming in the area. An STF team was deployed following the information. Two men had opened fired at the team of STF on the Ballapana Road,” he said. He said a few minutes later several more men arrived at the scene in a van and had opened fire at the STF personnel.



UN Notes Process Too Slow
[Sunday 2017-10-22 19:00]

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff noted that the truth seeking process in Sri Lanka was going too slow. Pablo de Greiff had told the Minister of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganesan that the process was also behind schedule. Pablo de Greiff met Ganesan last week and discussed several issues. The UN Special Rapporteur met the President and several others as well and will be holding a press conference tomorrow to brief the media on his findings.



Sampanthan and Pablo meet Prisoners, land issues raised
[Sunday 2017-10-22 19:00]

Leader of the Tamil National Alliance R. Sampanthan told United Nations Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff yesterday that the Tamil prisoners in custody are not in jail because they robbed or stole for personal gain and therefore their cases have a political dimension and it is needed to be looked at in that context and resolved. The Government has failed to understand this fact, Sampanthan said. He also highlighted the important issues faced by the Tamil people with regard to the release of lands belonging to civilians and the case of missing persons.



TALKS WITH PRESIDENT FRUITFUL - SIVAJILINGAM
[Sunday 2017-10-22 19:00]

Northern Provincial Council member M.K. Sivajilingam who met President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday on the release of people in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), told the Sunday Observer that the discussions that lasted one hour were smooth and constructive. The President’s response and the assurances he gave were encouraging and he considered it an important turning point in their long struggle seeking the release of the political prisoners, Sivajilingam said.



Arrest Of Gotabaya Imminent
[Sunday 2017-10-22 19:00]

The arrest of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is imminent, well informed sources told The Sunday Leader. Sources said that a discussion had been held last week between government officials from the legal and security establishments on taking Rajapaksa into custody to face charges against him. Rajapaksa returned from the United States last week following a private visit and according to sources he was to be arrested at the airport. However, on the advice of some officials, the move was dropped, sources added.



MR Likely To Be Removed
[Sunday 2017-10-22 18:00]

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is likely to be removed from his posts in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). General Secretary of the SLFP, Duminda Dissanayake told The Sunday Leader that any party member who does not attend SLFP meetings to discuss the elections will lose their posts in the party.



Karuna In ‘Unofficial’ Talks With Amaraweera
[Sunday 2017-10-22 18:00]

Former LTTE Eastern Commander Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman had ‘unofficial’ talks with United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera. Amaraweera told The Sunday Leader that no final decision had been taken with regard to the matters discussed at the meeting. The UPFA General Secretary however refused to divulge details related to the meeting saying the meeting was unofficial.



Poverty down to 4.1% But highest in the North
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

Sri Lanka's poverty headcount declined to 4.1 per cent last year, from 6.7% in 2012/13, when the last of such censuses were taken, the Census and Statistics Department (CSD), in a report released on Thursday (19), said. The Official Poverty Line (OPL) for last year was Rs 4,166 per soul per mensem, as opposed to real per capita expenditure per month for a person fixed at Rs 3,624 in 2012/13 to be poverty neutral then.



One person stabbed to death in Vavuniya
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

A 56- year-old was stabbed to death in Vavuniya following a heated argument. The victim was pronounced dead upon admission to Vavuniya Hosptal, according to police. He was identified as a resident of the same area. The suspect had been arrested by the Vavuniya Police and further investigations into the incident are being carried out.



Court orders prison authorities to submit a report on absence of former Navy Spokesperson Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake in court
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

The court today ordered a report from the prison authorities on the absence of former Navy Spokesperson Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake in court. Dassanayake, who is in remand custody, was not produced in court today when the case against him was taken up for hearing. Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered the Superintendent of Prisons to report on reasons for his absence.



MR to preside at SLPP rallies
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has decided to conduct a series of rallies, throughout the country, targeting the 2018 Provincial Council polls, party sources said. They said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa will preside at these rallies, while among those expected to speak will be MPs from the Joint Opposition and parties who have consented to contest the polls on the SLPP ticket. The sources added that the series of rallies will be kicked off in Anuradhapura on 12 November.



PC polls campaigns Nimal, John lead SLFP team
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a committee, headed by Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva and John Seneviratne, tasked with conducting the forthcoming campaigns, for the Provincial Council polls, on behalf of the SLFP. UPFA General Secretary, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated that this committee will also include several other SLFP stalwarts and the SLFP will contest the polls on the UPFA ticket He said that under no circumstance would the SLFP align itself with the UNP or any other party or contest the upcoming polls under the swan symbol.



Navy brings Indian crew of sinking vessel to Galle
[Saturday 2017-10-21 18:00]

The Navy says it brought a seven member Indian crew of a sinking vessel to Galle and they will be repatriated.The Navy rescued the seven member India crew from a Maldives-bound Indian Merchant Vessel, which had sunk in the seas south of Sri Lanka due to a mechanical fault. Upon being informed by the Maldivian Government about the ill-fated ‘Maria Iurudaya’, a medium-scale merchant vessel sinking in the seas 68 nautical miles south of the Galle lighthouse, the Navy Headquarters alerted all merchant ships plying in that area as well as SLN ships/craft patrolling in the southern seas to render assistance.



Jaffna Uni. students boycott lectures
[Friday 2017-10-20 18:00]

Students of the University of Jaffna have started a boycott for five days over the solution suggested by President Maithripala Sirisena during a discussion held regarding the political prisoners. The students had decided to boycott lectures till October 25. The fourth year examinations, which were scheduled to be held today, were also cancelled by the University administration due to the boycott.



Northern protesters meet President for discussions on Tamil prisoners
[Friday 2017-10-20 18:00]

A group of protesters including the Northern Provincial councilor K. Shivajilingam held a discussion with President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday at the Presidential Secretariat regarding the Tamil prisoners. The group including councilor K. Shivajilingam staged a protest demonstration carrying black flags when President Sirisena was visiting Jaffna on October 14.


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