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February 25, 2018 [GMT]
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Jayasuriya accused of running “Joseph Camp” torture chamber
[Thursday 2017-03-16 18:00]

Sri Lanka’s former army commander, currently Ambassador to Brazil, has been accused of allegedly operating an army camp at the end of the country’s civil war where extremely brutal torture was routine.
General Jagath Jayasuriya was the commander of the Wanni Security Force Headquarters in Vavuniya, more commonly know as “Joseph Camp”, from August 2007 till mid July 2009, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITPJ) claimed.

Sri Lanka’s former army commander, currently Ambassador to Brazil, has been accused of allegedly operating an army camp at the end of the country’s civil war where extremely brutal torture was routine. General Jagath Jayasuriya was the commander of the Wanni Security Force Headquarters in Vavuniya, more commonly know as “Joseph Camp”, from August 2007 till mid July 2009, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITPJ) claimed.

  

“There is no way General Jagath Jayasuriya can claim not to have known that torture routinely occurred in his camp; there were purpose built underground torture chambers equipped with manacles, chains and pulleys for hoisting victims upside down,” said ITJP Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka, “If the detainees could hear each other screaming at night from adjacent buildings, so could he.” The ITJP’s new report, replete with sketches of cells and interrogation rooms drawn by survivors, is based on the sworn testimony of 46 people which is also corroborated by 92 other cases of torture in this site which have been reported by other groups. The ITJP says it has documented 6 torture cases that occurred under the Sirisena Government in Sri Lanka – the most recent in December 2016.

Witnesses provided ITJP with searing testimony of torture in Joseph Camp that included rape with objects such as cricket wickets and glass bottles, as well as in two cases barbed wire inserted inside a pipe and then withdrawn to tear the flesh of the rectum. All of the women and 18 of the men described being raped and sexually violated; one Tamil man was left distraught after soldiers tried to force him to rape a female cadre detained with him. One of several Tamil informers interviewed who were forced to work with military intelligence said soldiers boasted to him of raping at least 15 Tamil women each. Most victims in this illegal detention site were kept naked in dirty dark cells often underground.

In the report the South Africa based rights group says it has scores of names and photographs of alleged perpetrators of torture and rape from Joseph Camp, several of whom have been positively identified by their victims. One alleged rapist is said to have been a Major in military intelligence; another senior officer ran abduction teams operating out of Joseph Camp at the end of the war but was sent abroad as a UN peacekeeper in 2015 despite the vetting procedures. “This clearly shows Sri Lanka cannot be trusted to vet their own peacekeepers if they think a man with this career history is the kind of person to send abroad,” said Ms Sooka.

The South Africa based human rights group is now calling for a thorough investigation of Joseph Camp by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Committee Against Torture as well as the immediate recall of General Jayasuriya from his post in Brazil pending investigation. The retired General is also accredited to Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Peru and Suriname. Another army General who ran Joseph Camp from 2009-2011, Kamal Gunaratne, was also sent as deputy Ambassador to Brazil before retiring.

  
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Key Ministries change hands in much anticipated cabinet reshuffle Top News
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

Several key Ministries changed hands in the much anticipated cabinet reshuffle which took place today. The cabinet reshuffle took place at the Presidential Secretariat today and included changes only in members of the United National Party (UNP). A cabinet reshuffle of members of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is set to take place in two weeks.



Cabinet reshuffle, a joke says Wasantha
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

Cabinet reshuffle was a joke and the Government had failed to deliver the change expected by the people, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Wasantha Senanayake said today. He made the remark outside the Presidential Secretariat soon after the new Cabinet Ministers sworn in. He told journalists that the first part of the comedy produced by the Government was played todayand the second part would be played next. “I don’t know how people will react as to whether they laugh, cry or pelt stones,” he said.



ITAK welcomes UNHRC report, wants govt. to honor commitments to int’l community
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) welcomed the report of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. The party’s Central Committee, which met in Colombo yesterday welcomed the report, ITAK said in a statement. "We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to strictly adhere to the commitments it has made to the International community in bringing lasting peace and political solution to the national question", the statement noted.



Feast of St. Anthony’s Church in Katchatheevu Island draws Indian and local crowds
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

Thousands of Catholic devotees from Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu in India took part in the annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church in Katchatheevu Island yesterday. Some 1,920 devotees from Tamil Nadu and over 4,000 locals from various parts of the island participated in the ceremonies. The festival which saw the two countries’ fisher folk coming together to celebrate, commenced with the hoisting of the flag on the flag pole donated by Indian devotees to the refurnished church. The church, reconstructed by the Sri Lanka Navy, was handed over to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jaffna in 2016.



Lanka debt burden Rs 417,913 per person
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

Sri Lanka’s debt had gone up to Rs. 417,913 a person by the end of 2016, a jump of nearly Rs 45,000 within a year, the Auditor General has reported. By the end of December 2015, the per person debt had stood at Rs 373,462 . This had increased by Rs. 44,451, representing an increase of about 12 percent by December 2016, the Auditor General said in his report on Public Debt Management. By the end of 2005, the per person debt stood at Rs 108,908.



Govt. fast tracks OMP operation before UNHRC sessions
[Sunday 2018-02-25 18:00]

Ahead of United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions scheduled to begin next week, the Government has decided to fast track some of the key commitments it made to the international community. These include bringing into full operation the work of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and introducing legislation to make enforced disappearances a criminal offence.



Zeid seeks other avenues to push for accountability in Sri Lanka
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the UN Human Rights Council to explore other avenues that could foster accountability in Sri Lanka. In his report on Sri Lanka to the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, which meets in Geneva from 26 February to 23 March 2018, the High Commissioner reiterates his appreciation for the constructive engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations human rights mechanisms since January 2015.



Govt. succumbs to pressure from Britain: President fails to prevent recall of military attache
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

The government has, under heavy pressure from the UK, carried out its decision to recall Sri Lanka’s military attache in London, Brig. Prinyankara Fernando, despite a presidential intervention. When the government announced its decision to recall the brigadier, following an incident where he allegedly made a throat slitting gesture in front of a group of British LTTE supporters of Sri Lankan origin, in London, on Feb. 04, President Sirisena, ordered that he be reinstated.



UN resident coordinator in Sri Lanka Una McCauley passes away suddenly
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

The United Nations Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Una McCauley has passed away suddenly at age 54, the UN office in Sri Lanka announced. Issuing a statement the UN office said Ms. McCauley, the first female resident representative in Sri Lanka, was on medical leave as she was undergoing treatment. The UN statement is given below:



Sampanthan’s request to President Stabilize the Government
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

Opposition and Tamil National Alliance Leader, R. Sampanthan has requested President Maithripala Sirisena to swiftly stabilize the Government, without allowing the country to be destabilized by its inaction. He added that he had personally met the President in the Parliament on 22 February and submitted his request. He pointed out that if a stable Government could be formed, it would go a long way towards finding a permanent solution to the vexed national issue as well as the drafting of a new Constitution.



New faces to adorn Cabinet
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

The National Unity Government will receive a facelift with young leaders assuming more responsibilities at a Cabinet reshuffle likely to take place over the week end. “Reliable sources of the Government told the Daily News that the ministerial portfolios of the Law and Order, Highways, Public Enterprises Development and Foreign Employment, will undergo radical changes during the Cabinet reshuffle.



Enforced Disappearance Bill to be debated on March 7
[Saturday 2018-02-24 17:00]

The draft bill for protection against enforced disappearances which was postponed twice in Parliament has been re-scheduled for debate on March 7. The Government presented the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill in Parliament on March 7, 2017. The Bill was scheduled to be taken up for debate on July 5 and September 19 last year, but the Government had to defer it due to objections of various groups.



SL backslides in pursuing UN commitments: AI
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Though Sri Lanka continued to pursue commitments made in 2015 to the UNHRC, progress of implementing them has been slowed and there was evidence of backsliding, the Amnesty International (AI) said on Thursday. In its country report on Sri Lanka for 2017/2018, AI said commitments made by Sri Lanka in 2015 – through the UN resolution had not been implemented by the end of the year.



Reparations essential to achieve reconciliation: Tittawella
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Reparations are essential in leading to a process of reconciliation and it should be done in parallel to a process on truth, justice, and non-recurrence, Secretary of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM), Mano Tittawella said. He said this in view of the two-day international conference organised by the SCRM, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Migration Agency on reparations for conflict victims. The conference was launched in Colombo yesterday.



Diyathalawa explosion: Army appoints six-member committee
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

A six-member committee headed by Major General Rukmal Dias was appointed by the army to investigate into the hand grenade explosion in a private bus on Wednesday at Kahagolla, Diyathalawa, the Army said. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Army Media Spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said the committee was appointed in addition to the investigations carried out by the police.



I am exhausted
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said today he was extremely tired with all the work he had to do with the local governments elections and would prefer to handover his duties to someone else even for a month. While referring to the continuous procedure of elections, Mr. Deshapriya told a news conference that he had felt that the time had arrived to get rid of these things.



TNA reiterates call for US intervention Slow implementation of Geneva Resolution
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan has urged US to pressure Sri Lanka to implement Geneva Resolution 30/1. The following is the text of the statement issued by the TNA following a meeting between Sampanthan and the visiting United States member of Congress F. James Sensenbrenner and His Chief of Staff Matt Bisenius at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament: "Sampanthan apprised the member on recently concluded Local Government Elections and the resultant political situation. Explaining the Constitution making process, Sampanthan highlighted that the process must continue and seek a successful end. He also emphasized that the Constitution must be approved by the people at a referendum.



Re-think on electoral system for PCs
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

In the aftermath of the defeat at the local government elections, the United National Party (UNP) is said to be considering whether to revert to the previous system of Proportional Representation for the Provincial Council Elections.The government postponed the Provincial Council Elections till a new systems of a mix of the First-Past-the-Post and Proportional Representation was worked out. The delimitation committee appointed to demarcate the provincial wards had submitted has submitted its report. However, there is a view within the party that the old Proportional Representation System was less complicated.



Govt. bound to implement UNHRC resolution: TNA
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Opposition Leader and TNA MP R. Sampanthan today said that the government was bound to implement the UNHRC resolution both in spirit and letter and called on the international community to ensure it was fully implemented. Highlighting the delays that have occurred in implementing the resolution he said that the International community must take necessary steps to ensure that the government is held accountable for the commitments made to the international community and to the people in Sri Lanka on implementing Cosponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council.



Priyankara Fernando arrives in Sri Lanka
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Minister Counsellor (Defence) attached to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, Brigadier Priyankara Fernando arrived in Sri Lanka a short while ago. He was recalled for special consultations on the video published on social media capturing him making a ‘throat slitting’ gesture in response to a Tamil group of protesters outside the Sri Lankan High Commission premises in London. Brigadier Priyankara Fernando was immediately recalled from his service following the release of the video but was reinstated soon after, with the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena.


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