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September 22, 2017 [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objects such as cricket wickets and glass bottles, as well as in two cases barbed wire inserted inside a pipe and then withdrawn to tear the flesh of the rectum.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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Constitution framers divided over bid to change ‘unitary state’
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

The Steering Committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution has raised the hackles of some of its members by proposing that the term, ‘unitary state’ be done away with. The Steering Committee interim report submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to the Constitutional Assembly yesterday states that people in the south are scared of the term, ‘federal’ while the people in the North fear the word, ‘unitary.’



No provable evidence filed against Jayasuriya: Marapana
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

Upholding the Government pledge to protect military personnel against alleged war crimes, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Assignments Tilak Marapana yesterday confirmed to the Parliament that no firm submissions were made against former Army Commander General Jagath Jayasuriya.



Three PCs to come under purview of Governors: Minister
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

The three Provincial Councils of Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern will be brought under the administration of the governors of the respective provinces once the terms of office expire on September 26 until such time the elections are held for the three provinces, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha said yesterday.



President to meet Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to meet United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on September 22. The Human Rights situation in the country will be the focal point of this discussion. President Sirisena addressed the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 19. In his speech, President Sirisena said that national reconciliation is important, particularly given the country’s diverse population and expressed that while certain elements expected fast results which he said would merely be “short-term solutions.”



President Sirisena an exemplary leader: US
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena was an exemplary leader working closely with all member states, the United States said yesterday. Meeting President Sirisena on the side lines of the 72nd Session of the United National General Assembly in New York , US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon said the US also appreciate the cooperative approach taken by Sri Lanka when dealing with regional countries.



SLFP wants executive presidency retained
[Friday 2017-09-22 19:00]

The SLFP yesterday insisted that the executive presidency had to be retained if the unitary character of the state was to be safeguarded. Addressing a press conference held in the Parliament complex, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said a president with certain executive powers was essential for the stability of the country.



TNA stance during debate stage: Sampanthan
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will come up with its stance on the interim report of the Constitution at the time when it is debated in the Constitutional Council in the near future, TNA and Opposition Leader R Sampanthan said today. "We will talk about the report later and what I would like to stress now is the need to build a peaceful and united Sri Lanka," he said. Speaking at the constitutional assembly, the opposition leader said what is needed is to ensure that country achieves peace where it's people could live in harmony.



New Constitution; Steering Committee interim report presented
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

Sri Lanka's future depends on the ability which the UNP and the SLFP possess to reach an agreement on the fundamentals of the new Constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Constitutional Assembly today. The Prime Minister made this remark while presenting the interim report of the steering committee established under the constitutional assembly. The report was actually presented to the constitutional assembly by him.



PC polls (amendment) Bill passed
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) bill was passed with a majority of 122 votes in parliament yesterday. The bill received 159 votes in favour and 37 votes against. The TNA, JVP and SLMC voted with the government. The Bill seeks to amend the Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988 to make it binding on all political parties and independent groups to field at least 30 per cent female candidates in Provincial Council elections.



Sumanthiran congratulates Govt. for introducing bill
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

The Bill before Parliament is a very important bill that introduces the proportion of 30% of women candidates who have to be nominated in the nomination paper submitted by any political party or an independent group when they contest a Provincial Council Election. said TNA – MP M. A. Sumanthiran in Parliament yesterday. “This is a very important issue that we have been talking about and when a Bill is debated in the House, any member, under Standing Orders could move committee stage amendments provided notice is given before 12 noon,” he added.



PRESIDENT ATTENDS RECEPTION HOSTED BY US PRESIDENT
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena and First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena attended a reception hosted by US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.



Much need to be done for peacebuilding and reconciliation in Sri Lanka - UN
[Thursday 2017-09-21 17:00]

Although war is over in Sri Lanka, many still face discrimination and hate and much need to be done for peacebuilding and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms. Una McCauley says. In a message to mark the International Day of Peace 2017 that falls on Thursday, September 21, Ms. McCauley said the people must respect each other's religion, race, culture, values and political beliefs and accept and work with each other's differences to make any meaningful progress.



President urges world to support SL's reconciliation
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to seriously consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law and extend the fullest support to the slow, but the steady forward march of Sri Lanka to build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society with high morals and discipline.



Ex-army chief Fonseka says visa denied to US to attend UN general assembly sessions
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Sri Lanka's ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka Tuesday said he had been denied a visa to attend the UN general assembly because of unresolved war crime allegations against the military. The war-time general, who is now minister of regional development, said he was due to travel to New York this week, but he was the only one in the Sri Lankan delegation not issued a visa. Fonseka said he could not accompany President Maithripala Sirisena who left Colombo on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly."I was not given a visa because of the war crimes allegations against the military," Fonseka told AFP. "That is why I say they must be investigated."



PC Minister files petition challenging Wigneswaran’s power
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

An ousted Provincial Council Minister challenged Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in the Court of Appeal, saying that he has no power to appoint or remove any provincial council minister. The Court of Appeal yesterday fixed its order for 3 October on whether to issue an interim order and notices in respect of the writ petition filed by expelled Minister B. Deniswaran. The bench comprised justices L.T.B. Dehideniya (CA President) and A.L. Shiran Gooneratne.



PTA was not used for past six months: Sagala
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will be replaced soon with a new counter terrorism law, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said in Parliament yesterday. The Minister also said that the PTA has not been used for the past six months. He added that the initial steps in that connection has been commenced. He also added that a Parliamentary Committee has also given its views on the same.



Rohingya Muslims: Will Dalai Lama be asked to leave, Tamil refugees sent back, asks Omar
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Lashing out at people for demanding deportation of Rohingya Muslims from the country, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has asked if those plugging their India were going to demand that the Tibetan Government in exile leave Indian shores immediately. “Will Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka be sent back as punishment for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination,” he further asked.



Lalith, Anusha released on bail
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Former presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and TRC’s former director general Anusha Palpita were today released on bail by Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga. They were earlier sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment after they were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC and using it to distribute ‘Sil Redi’ during the 2015 presidential election campaign. Mr.Weeratunga and Mr. Palpita were each released on cash bail of Rs.100, 000 with three sureties of Rs.1 million each. Their passports were impounded by Court.



Prez to meet Zeid on Friday Talks crucial for SL
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

The coming Friday (22) will be extremely crucial for Sri Lanka with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein expected to have a one-on-one meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena here in New York. According to reliable sources, the meeting is going to be a closed door affair between the President and the High Commissioner. Diplomats are of the view that the outcome of this meeting is going to be crucial for Sri Lanka with High Commissioner Hussein recently expressing his frustration at the delayed reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.



TNA cracking up due to 20A
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

Cracks have appeared in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) over the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution with Eelam People's Revolutionary Left Front (EPRLF) leader Suresh Premachandran declaring that the party is opposed to the Amendment. However, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and MP M.A. Sumanthiran had earlier stated that they will support the Amendment. "The TNA leadership does not discuss matters within the coalition. The decisions are taken by leader Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. They never discuss these matters with other constituent party leaders," Premachandran said.


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