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May 1, 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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Navy to release 100 acres in Mullikulam
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne has assured that the Navy would immediately release about 100 acres of land to the people in Mullikulam. He gave this assurance during a cordial discussion with those residing in Mullikulam whilst on an inspection visit to the North-Western Naval Area on Saturday.



Three policemen including SI accused of extortion in Jaffna
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

The Jaffna police are probing a complaint lodged by a goldsmith that three policemen including a sub-in spector of police had allegedly demanded hush money from him for themselves and for a particular magistrate . Initial investigations revealed the police personnel had visited the goldsmith on several occasions. According to the goldsmith they had threatened to charge him with smelting gold stolen in Jaffna.



NO AGREEMENTS TO BE SIGNED DURING INDIAN PM’S VISIT
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena called on the people not to be carried away by false news published in social media pertaining to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka during the Vesak week. The President made these comments yesterday partaking in the centennial celebrations of the Oddamavadi Central College in Batticaloa.



Gota denies any hand in posting Lasantha murder suspect to Bangkok
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has written to us through a lawyer rejecting our front page report last Sunday headlined "Key suspect in Lasantha killing given diplomatic post by Gotabhaya." In a statement attached to the letter (published on page-3 of today’s issue), Rajapaksa says inter alia, "For the benefit of the readers, I must emphasis (sic) that I have never met Major Bulathwela in my life, let alone nominating him to the diplomatic position. Therefore I say that the said publication has been carried out with an ulterior motive of tarnishing my reputation and goodwill amongst the general public."



Intelligence On Alert Ahead Of Modi’s Visit
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

Intelligence agencies have been placed on alert ahead of the visit to Sri Lanka next month by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sources said that Indian security agencies and Sri Lanka were closely coordinating security arrangements for Modi’s visit. Intelligence agencies have been alerted of moves by the joint opposition to stage mass protests in Colombo to disrupt Modi’s itinerary.



SLFP, UNP book 3,264 buses, two trains for May Day rallies
[Sunday 2017-04-30 17:00]

More than half the fleet of the state-run Sri Lanka Transport Board buses have been booked for May Day rallies by political parties with the two main parties making most of the bookings, officials said. For its rally in Kandy, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has booked 1,832 buses, while the United National Party has booked 1,432 buses for its Campbell Park rally. By Friday, 3,949 buses had been booked, Chief Operating Superintendent P.H.R.T. Chandrasiri told the Sunday Times. The Joint Opposition has booked only 22 buses to transport its supporters for its rally at the Galle Face Green. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has booked 209 buses.



NORTH SHUTS DOWN : Protests result of frustration – Wigneswaran
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran said that the hartal held on Thursday (27) was the people’s reaction to the ‘lethargy and indifference’ on the part of the authorities in dealing with people’s problems. The hartal was staged by the people of the Northern Province mainly demanding a solution to the issue of those who have been reported missing.



Police to recruit more Tamil speaking candidates
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

The deadline to apply for over 1,500 vacancies to the Sri Lanka Police has been extended to June 2, the Police Media Division announced today. Police headquarters called for applications several vacancies including Police Constables (PC), Women Police Constables (WPC) and Police Constable (Drivers) for police stations spread across the island, especially in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.



President never dreamt of offering a 'post' to SF: WDJ
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena has never dreamt of offering Minister Sarath Fonseka the post of army commander or the responsibility of heading a committee on essential services in case of being disrupted because of TU action,” Labour Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne said today. He told a news conference held at Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Headquarters that what the President said as a joke had been given various interpretations.



Army briefs UN on reconciliation and release of land
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

The Army has briefed the UN on its role in the reconciliation process and moves to release more land in the North. The Army media unit said that two Colombo-based UN delegates met Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Chief of Staff at his office in the Army Headquarters.



Navy team gets onboard Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel being built in India
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

The Indian shipbuilding company, Goa Shipyard is currently at the completion stages of building two 105m Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPV) for the mission requirements of the Sri Lanka Navy. The Sri Lanka Navy crew who are expected to steer one of the AOPVs, got onboard the ship to acclimatise themselves to the state-of-the-art facilities and technologies of the ship.



‘Indian boats will be released only if SL fishermen agree’
[Saturday 2017-04-29 17:00]

The boats of Indian fisherman which are now in Sri Lankan custody will only be released with the consent of the fisheries associations in the North, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. Minister Amaraweera recently said the government had not decided to discuss on the release of these boats during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka.



Stones pelted at bus carrying military personnel
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

A bus belonging to the Army that was carrying military personnel had been pelted with stones in the Mullaitivu area on Thursday (27) evening during a hartal that was conducted there, Army Spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne today said. The incident occurred when the Vavuniya bound military bus was passing Mullaitivu. A glass of the bus had been broken but no one had been injured in the incident. On learning about the incident, the Mullaitivu Police had initiated an investigation to identify.



Canadian maple syrup to delight Sri Lankan taste buds
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

Canadian maple syrup can be tasted in all its glory in a grand spread of the most irresistible high tea delicacies May 3-7, 2017 at the Kingsbury Hotel and on May 14 at the Mother's Day promotions of the hotel. A wide-range of dishes have been prepared to be savored - all of which showcase maple syrup and range from Cr&3233;me Brule, Strawberry Comport, and Pecan Nut sticky pudding to Chocolate Dough nuts, Orange Almond cake and Pumpkin Cake - to name but a few.



Garbage disposal: Gazette notice tabled in House
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

The Gazette notice declaring that garbage collection and disposal are Essential Services was presented in Parliament today. All services, work of any description whatsoever necessary or required to be done in connection with any undertaking performed or maintained by any local authority or for and on behalf of any such local authority for the clearance, collection, transportation, temporary storage, processing, separating, treating, disposing and the sale of street refuse, house refuse or other similar matters are declared as essential services by the gazette notification. Meanwhile, the MPs expressed various views during the adjournment debate on the Meethotumulla disaster.



Joint Indo-Lanka working group to be formed to explore infrastructure development in Sri Lanka
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

A joint working group will be set up between Sri Lanka and India to explore the development of roads, petroleum development, port and other industries in the eastern port town of Trincomalee in the island nation, India said today. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the joint working group will deal with the further discussions on port and refinery and other infrastructure related matters in Trincomalee.



No proposal to make SF army commander: Amaraweera
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said today President Maithripala Sirisena had neither proposed Field Marshal Minister Sarath Fonseka to take up the post of army commander or overall commander as reported in the media nor had Mr. Fonseka requested for such a post. The Minister told a news conference that the President only asked whether Mr. Fonseka could help implement a mechanism to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential services for which Mr. Fonseka agreed.



Expect to fulfil President’s request: SF
[Friday 2017-04-28 18:00]

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who had been offered a position with the responsibility to execute essential services in case they were disrupted, said today that he expected to fulfil the request made by the President. Speaking to journalists at a New Year Festival held in Kelaniya, the minister said President Maithripala Sirisena instructed him to take responsibility in carrying out essential services when they were disrupted.



Hartal shuts down North and East Top News
[Thursday 2017-04-27 17:00]

A hartal has shut down transport and other services in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces today. Organizers of the protest demanded the government resolves issued raised by relatives of those missing during the armed conflict as well as long standing land issues faced by residents. Many shops have said to be shut down and public transport services have come to a standstill. The protestors said they were supported by several political parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).



GSP+: EU Parliament defeats anti-SL resolution
[Thursday 2017-04-27 17:00]

Sri Lanka today successfully defeated the resolution submitted by a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) saying that the GSP+ should not be granted to Sri Lanka, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Harsha De Silva said a short while ago. The voting which was held in the European Parliament in Belgium ended a short while ago with a victory for Sri Lanka. “Nearly 436 voted against the resolution while 119 voted in favour. Twenty two MEPs abstained from voting on the resolution,” Dr. De Silva tweeted.


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