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January 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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UFO spotted, possible drone activity: Dr. Chandana Jayaratne
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

The Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) that hovered in the skies and spotted in several areas of the country on Saturday night could be a drone activity, Professor, Department of Physics, University of Colombo, Dr. Chandana Jayaratne said. Speaking to Daily Mirror he said that he could not say it was an alien activity depending on the video footages and the pictures which captured the object, as they were not clear enough or possible man made.



Sri Lanka MP Wimal Weerawansa's remand extended until February 7
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

A Sri Lankan court today extended the remand of the United People's Freedom Alliance parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa who was arrested and remanded over misuse of state property. Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne remanded the joint opposition MP Weerawansa until February 7. The FCID arrested Weerawansa earlier this month in connection with his alleged involvement in misusing government vehicles.



Lankans among highest number seeking Swiss asylum
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

Sri Lankans were among the highest number of asylum seekers in Switzerland last year. The Reuters news agency reported that requests for asylum in Switzerland plunged by nearly a third to around 27,200 last year after authorities closed the Balkan land route used by thousands to flee hot spots in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.



Ekneligoda Habeas Corpus petition inquiry laid by
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

The Court of Appeal yesterday decided to lay by the inquiry into the Habeas Corpus petition filed by the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda and his two sons. However, the Court of Appeal ordered the Homagama Magistrate to proceed with the magisterial inquiry into Ekneligoda. On October 30, 2015, the Court of Appeal issued an order to temporarily suspend the magisterial inquiry (at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court) into Ekneligoda consequent to a requirement that arose in the Habeas Corpus petition.



India makes fresh demands
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

India has submitted a set of new demands if they are to take over the management of the Trincomalee Harbour, according to......highly reliable sources. It is said that among the Indian Government's demands is a deal which would cause serious losses to the Government. Minister of Development Policies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema stated, in December 2016, that the government intends to implement a development programme in Trincomalee, including the operation of the Port there with India's assistance.



SL asylum seeker charged with rape in Papua New Guinea
[Tuesday 2017-01-24 17:00]

A 31-year-old Sri Lankan asylum seeker held at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea has been charged with the alleged rape of a local woman, the Guardian reported on Tuesday. Rajeev Rajendran, originally from Sri Lanka, was charged in Lorengau court over the alleged assault which took place at a hotel on January 17. The acting provincial police commander, Senior Inspector David Yapu, said the man had met the woman at Lorengau market before taking her to a local hotel, where she was allegedly assaulted.



UN Special Rapporteur wants PTA repealed, new anti-terror law reviewed
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

A UN Special Rapporteur, in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), has recommended that Sri Lanka immediately repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), review the draft legislation to replace the PTA and immediately withdraw the proposed amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act that would deprive a suspect of access to a lawyer until his or her statement has been recorded.



LASANTHA WICKREMATUNGA MURDER CASE: SARATH FONSEKA TO BE QUESTIONED FURTHER
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

Minister of Regional Development, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka will be brought in for further questioning by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Tuesday in connection with the murder of slain editor Lasantha Wickrematunga. According to highly placed sources, Fonseka arrived at the CID at about 10 in the morning on Friday and questioning continued till about 4 in the evening. He was questioned for over 5 hours.



JVP: Will topple the Govt. if there is an opportunity
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) was ready to topple the incumbent Government even before 2020 if there was an opportunity, party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said today. Speaking at the forming of Diriya Samithi in Maharagama yesterday, Mr. Dissanayake said people would have to punish them now if the FCID, Judiciary or the Attorney General was not going to do so.



CID to question Gota after last Friday’s grilling of Fonseka
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

CID would soon interrogate former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on the murder of former Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga, Police headquarters sources said yesterday. The former defence secretary would be questioned on the matters transpired during the interrogation of former Army Commander and Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who had been questioned by the CID last Friday for more than six hours, the sources said.



Talks between Mahinda and President’s proxies fail
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

Former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has indicated that there couldn’t be a consensus between his grouping and the SLFP under the present circumstances. Former President Rajapaksa has declared that his grouping wouldn’t accept any arrangement at the expense of the party against the backdrop of the SLFPers in government pursuing an agenda inimical to the party.



Dasa Sil Matha on hunger strike against new Constitution
[Monday 2017-01-23 17:00]

A Dasa Sil Matha is seen sitting in front of the historic Dalada Maligawa in Kandy where she has embarked on a non-stop hunger strike saying that the present government is trying to divide the country by amending the Constitution. She has opted to remain anonymous and will continue to protest against the high-handed actions of the government.



UFO hovers across the country Top News
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

An Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) hovering in the skies had been spotted in several areas of the country on Saturday night. Witnesses said the round-shaped object radiated a bright light. However, as captured by telescopes it was a bright, square shaped object with a moving core. The UFO was reported to have been spotted clearly in the western skies in Ratnapura, Hambantota, Galle and Matara around 7.15 pm.



Mahinda should leave politics – US tells GL
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

US ambassador in Sri Lanka Atul Keshap has told the joint opposition that it would gain nothing by recognizing ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa as its leader any further, ‘Sathhanda’ reports. Mahinda has been informed by Prof. G.L. Peiris about the US diplomat’s view, who has also said the JO would be in trouble if it did not let go of the ex-president.



Tamil Diaspora lobbies against GSP plus
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

Several Tamil Diaspora organizations have made joint representations to political and diplomatic missions, including the EU Parliament, exerting pressure on them against restoring to Sri Lanka the GSP plus export facility unless the Lankan Government implements core international conventions which are a prerequisite to qualify for the restoration. The Diaspora has through European Parliament Members called for a debate in the EU Parliament on the issue and has been lobbying in the EU Commissioner's office against restoration of the facility to Sri Lanka.



President Hopes To Strengthen Relations With US Under Trump
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena said he hopes to strengthen ties with the United States under new US President Donald Trump. Sirisena congratulated Trump on his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump was sworn in on Friday succeeding Barack Obama and taking control of a divided country in a transition of power that he has declared will lead to “America First” policies at home and abroad.



LIOC won’t release tanks, CPC spends Rs. 1b to build four tanks
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is to set up four fuel storage tanks at a cost of more than Rs. 1 billion. These tanks to be set up in Muthurajawela off Wattala are needed in view of a delay in securing the release of three tanks leased out to the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) in Trincomalee, a senior CPC official said.



Heated exchange at Chief Ministers meeting with MR
[Sunday 2017-01-22 19:00]

A heated exchange of words had reportedly taken place at the meeting held today between former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Seven Chief Ministers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The meeting held this morning ended inconclusively but the Chief Ministers have sought a follow-up meeting with him soon. The Chief Ministers called for the meeting to seek Rajapaksa’s support for the SLFP at the next Local Government elections. President Maithripala Sirisena had approved the meeting.



Trump sworn in as 45th President of USA
[Saturday 2017-01-21 19:00]

Donald John Trump was sworn in Friday as the 45th president of the United States, taking office on a day that has featured smaller crowds and more subdued ceremony than previous inaugurations — but still ushers in a transformative shift in the country’s leadership. Trump, 70, was administered the oath by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. His wife Melania Trump stood at his side. The oath was given using two Bibles — one from President Lincoln’s inauguration, and another that Trump’s mother gave him in 1955.



India denies talks are on to take over development of Sri Lanka's Trincomalee port
[Saturday 2017-01-21 19:00]

Indian official sources on Friday denied Sri Lankan Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka’s contention that Sri Lanka and India are in talks for developing the Trincomalee harbor in the Eastern coast of the island nation. Fonseka had made the claim on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi earlier this week, touching off adverse comments in Sri Lanka on the dangers of trying to balance China and India and making Sri Lanka an arena of big power politics.


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