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July 22, 2017 [GMT]
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Abduction, torture of Tamils remain systematic: ITJP
[Saturday 2017-07-15 17:00]

Abduction and torture of Tamils by the Sri Lankan security forces remain systematic because in 30 months the new Government has failed to dismantle the networks of the ‘deep state’, a Johannesburg-based, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said in its latest report.
This includes torture chambers in one of the country’s largest army camps, immigration fraud, human smuggling and extortion by government allies, the report stated.

Abduction and torture of Tamils by the Sri Lankan security forces remain systematic because in 30 months the new Government has failed to dismantle the networks of the ‘deep state’, a Johannesburg-based, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said in its latest report. This includes torture chambers in one of the country’s largest army camps, immigration fraud, human smuggling and extortion by government allies, the report stated.

  

“It is hardly surprising that Sri Lanka’s white van abductions continue as those in charge of past system crimes have been promoted and rewarded by this Government, which reassures perpetrators that they will never be held accountable,” said the ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka. “In addition, torturing Tamils has become a highly lucrative business,” she added. The ITJP comprises prosecutors and lawyers who’ve worked on international tribunals, UN commissions and the ICC. Its findings are reinforced by medical NGOs and doctors who do painstaking work forensically examining the scars of torture survivors.

For its latest report the ITJP took detailed testimony from 57 Tamil victims of illegal detention and torture under the Sirisena government -- 24 of them tortured in 2016 or 2017. No official has been investigated or held accountable for such torture. The ITJP’s report, “Unstopped”, indicates that the ongoing torture is not the conduct of a few “rotten apples” in the Sri Lankan security forces as it includes senior officers who themselves participate in the torture which is systematic and condoned

The ITJP’s report provides graphic descriptions of the torture methods used in 2016/17, which include beating with cricket wickets and pipes, burning with cigarettes and branding with hot metal rods, asphixiation and hanging upside down. In addition, 18 victims (15 male) described experiencing sexual violence. “It’s hard to convey the extent of the sexual depravity and cruelty of the perpetrators,” said Ms Sooka, “what’s clear is any security sector reform in Sri Lanka must ensure that officials responsible for these grave crimes are held criminally accountable”.

- In a third of cases in 2016/17 senior officers are described entering the torture chamber, indicating knowledge on the part of those in command.

- 12 victims in 2016/17 heard other prisoners screaming from their solitary cells, indicating

(a) More people were tortured and

(b) All the security personel present at the site would have had knowledge of the torture.

- Biometric fingerprinting has been used in the torture chambers, technology that was only recently introduced for passports. Organised crime would be unlikely to use this or want to fingerprint in the first place.

- Victims describe being asked questions about information given during previous interrogations that was not widely known, indicating those involved in torture now have access to a centralised database of past interrogation records.

- 8 victims describe some of their perpetrators wearing military uniforms.

- In 7 cases the victim was tortured in a known site - the Vanni Security Force Headquarters (also known as Joseph Camp).

- Victims are held in purpose built cells and tortured in rooms already equipped for torture.

- The abductions, release and detentions follow a similar modus operandi as during the Rajapaksa years.

- Reprisals continue against family members after the victim has fled.

  
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Guterres offers support to Office of Missing Persons
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has commended the Government of Sri Lanka for establishing the Office of Missing Persons (OMP). Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General said that establishing the OMP is a significant milestone for all Sri Lankans still searching for the truth about their missing loved ones. Haq quoted Guterres as saying the United Nations stands ready to support the process and that the Secretary-General looks forward to the OMP becoming operational as soon as possible, starting with the appointment of the independent commissioners.



FCO announces SL as one of 30 ‘Human Rights Priority Countries’
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in its annual Human Rights Report for 2016 announced that Sri Lanka was one of 30 ‘Human Rights Priority Countries’ (HRPCs), countries with which the UK looks for positive engagement that contributes to addressing human rights concerns.



Japanese Govt. grants US$ 611,710 for demining Northern Province
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

The Japanese Government has decided to provide a grant of US$ 611,710 to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) for humanitarian demining in Northern Sri Lanka, Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma said. The grant contract was signed between Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Suganum and MAG Technical Operations Manager Rownan Fernandes at the Embassy of Japan in Colombo yesterday.



No need of divisive constitution: Sampanthan
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

Opposition Leader R Sampanthan yesterday said they did not want a Constitution that would create divisions in the country. He said they need a Constitution that was aimed at addressing the root cause of the national question and would bring a resolution to the same.



US terrorism report says Sri Lanka on alert against ISIS
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

A US terrorism report says Sri Lankan security forces and intelligence agencies were on full alert against the possibility of ISIS or its affiliates emerging in the country. The annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 said that in January last year, then Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi noted reports of approximately 36 Sri Lankans who traveled to Syria, with some joining ISIS, but he asserted ISIS and other terrorist groups were not physically present in Sri Lanka.



Govt. will lose two thirds majority in 2 weeks- JO
[Friday 2017-07-21 18:00]

Joint Opposition National Organizer and MP Dullas Alahapperuma today requested the UPFA and SLFP ministers in the government to withdraw from their portfolios as this is a UNP regime, while claiming that government will lose its two third majority of the parliament within two weeks.



Visiting FM says Jaffna holds special significance to Singapore
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

Singapore Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan after visiting Jaffna and meeting with the Northern Provincial officials today said Jaffna holds special significance for Singapore given the strong cultural and people-to-people ties between the two sides. He said the relationship has evolved from the early days of government administrators to present day institutions such as the Singapore Ceylon Tamils' Association.



SriLankan Airlines to commence Melbourne flights from October
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday said SriLankan Airlines would commence its operations to Melbourne with effect from October. The minister was addressing a press briefing after meeting with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at his Ministry. Bishop’s visit to Sri Lanka coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia.



US may deny resettlement of hundreds of Tamils on Nauru, Manus amid anti-terror laws
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

There are roughly 240 Tamils on Nauru and Manus Island, from where America has agreed to take up to 1,250 refugees. Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump described the agreement as a "dumb deal", and his administration said it would only honour it to maintain a strong relationship with Australia and then only on condition refugees satisfied strict checks.



PM meets UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman earlier today at the Temple Trees. Premier Wickremesinghe previously held discussions with Jeffrey Feltman at the United Nations Ocean Summit on June 5 in USA on Sri Lanka’s constitutional reforms and factors affecting reconciliations.



Sri Lanka govt not to clash with UN on human rights: Minister
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

Unlike the previous Rajapaksa regime, the current Sri Lankan government will not follow the policy of confrontation with the UN over the human rights violations committed during the three-decade long civil war, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said today. Senaratne, who is also the Health Minister, was responding after Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe severely criticised the conclusions made by United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson at the end of his four-day visit last week.



Use of drones for filming to be regulated
[Thursday 2017-07-20 18:00]

The Civil Aviation Authority will take steps to regulate and standardize the use of drones for video filming, said Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. He was addressing a workshop organized by the Civil Aviation Authority at its auditorium in Hunupitiya, Colombo recently.



UN Chief’s political officer discusses progress in Sri Lanka Top News
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, began a visit to Sri Lanka today to take stock of the progress in the country. The UN office in Colombo said that from 19-21 July, Feltman will be in Sri Lanka to follow-up on his 2015 visit, to take stock of progress in the country and engage national stakeholders on the peacebuilding process.



Government says no issue with Emmerson meeting detainees
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

The Government says it has no issue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson meeting Tamil political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) during his recent visit to Sri Lanka.



NFF withdraws from Constitutional Assembly
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

The five Parliamentarians of National Freedom Front (NFF) informed the Speaker in writing that they will be leaving the Constitutional Assembly, today. The five NFF parliamentarians who were elected to parliament after contesting under the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) handed over their letter to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya informing that they will be leaving the Constitutional Assembly.



Who permitted UN Rapporteur meet LTTE detainees: MS
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena is reported to have asked at today’s Cabinet meeting as to who gave permission for UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson to meet LTTE suspects in prison. Mr. Emmerson who concluded his mission in Sri Lanka accused it of using torture against people detained under the Anti-terror Act and that its progress on human rights, reforms and justice remained woefully slow.



Sampanthan urges two main parties to work together
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan yesterday called for the two main parties to set aside their differences and come together to work out a just political solution for the national question. Addressing the media after a closed door meeting with the Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr.Vivian Balakrishnan at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Sampanthan stressed, “A just political solution must come, and it is only through that there will be real change in the lives of the people and trust will be rebuilt to live in this country”.



Police officers accused of killing Jaffna Uni students bid to move case out of North, East
[Wednesday 2017-07-19 19:00]

The Court of Appeals on Monday granted another date for five police officers who had been arrested in connection with the shooting of two Jaffna University students to file a counter objection on 3 August in regard to their appeal. The accused police officers are seeking the court to transfer their case out of Northern and Eastern provinces.



Singapore Foreign Minister to have talks with Wigneswaran
[Tuesday 2017-07-18 17:00]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is to visit Jaffna this week and have talks with the Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and also have an interaction with Businessmen of the Chamber of Commerce of Jaffna.



Eight students hospitalised due to explosion
[Tuesday 2017-07-18 17:00]

At least eight students of the Kokkilai Sinhala school in Mullaithivu had been hospitalised following an explosion at a garbage dump at the school. The explosion occurred, when the students participating in a dengue eradication programme at the school cleared a block land. Mancholai Hospital sources said students were not physically injured but were admitted for shock.


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