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July 22, 2017 [GMT]
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U.N. raps Sri Lanka's slow progress on tackling war crimes
[Saturday 2017-07-15 17:00]

The United Nations criticized Sri Lanka on Friday for slow progress in addressing war crimes and past human rights abuses and said the international community was running out of patience.
The U.N. and rights activists have accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, in the last weeks of the civil war with Tamil separatists that ended in 2009 and have demanded reforms and redress.

The United Nations criticized Sri Lanka on Friday for slow progress in addressing war crimes and past human rights abuses and said the international community was running out of patience. The U.N. and rights activists have accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, in the last weeks of the civil war with Tamil separatists that ended in 2009 and have demanded reforms and redress.

  

"There is little evidence that perpetrators of war crimes committed by members of the Sri Lankan armed forces are being brought to justice," Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, told reporters after concluding a four-day visit to Sri Lanka. With progress having ground "to a virtual halt", Emmerson said Sri Lanka could face a range of measures, including a referral to the U.N. Security Council, if it fails to meet commitments it made under a 2015 U.N. resolution. The United Nations gave Colombo a two-year extension in March to meet the commitments, which include establishing a judicial process involving foreign judges and prosecutors to investigate the alleged war crimes.

Colombo has previously promised an impartial investigation into human rights violations but President Maithripala Sirisena has since said he would not allow foreign judges take part in the investigation. Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism speaks during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 14, 2017.Dinuka Liyanawatte While Emmerson was in Sri Lanka, police arrested a top naval officer on suspicion of being involved in the abduction of 11 youths, mostly Tamils, in 2008/2009 who have never been found. Emmerson also said he had come across prisoners who had been detained without trial for more than 12-years.

He criticized what he said was the "systemic use of torture" in Sri Lanka, saying it was "among the worst in the world", and blamed the situation mainly on Colombo's failure to repeal its Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) despite promises to do so. The Sri Lankan government said it needed more time to tackle the abuses cited by Emmerson.

"He can't dictate like this, we can't make laws immediately. They have to go through parliament There is a process. He must understand what democracy is," Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa told Reuters. The Tamil separatists have also been accused of committing widespread abuses during the 26-year war, including using child soldiers and targeting civilians with suicide bombers.

  
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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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