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September 19, 2017 [GMT]
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UN experts accuse North Korea of illegally exporting goods to SL
[Sunday 2017-09-10 19:00]

North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least £204 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during a six-month period, in breach of United Nations sanctions, the world body says.

In a report released on Saturday , UN experts said Kim Jong Un's government continued to flout sanctions on commodities, as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities, during the perios which ended in early August, International media reported.

North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least £204 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during a six-month period, in breach of United Nations sanctions, the world body says. In a report released on Saturday , UN experts said Kim Jong Un's government continued to flout sanctions on commodities, as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities, during the perios which ended in early August, International media reported.

  

They said North Korea was also reportedly continuing banned nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, construction and maintenance at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and at a uranium mine in Pyongsan. The eight-member panel of experts said it was also investigating the widespread presence of North Koreans in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Syria, "including their involvement in prohibited activities". The experts said one inquiry is into "reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms co-operation" between Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.

They said this included activities on Syrian Scud missile programmes and "maintenance and repair of Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAM) air defence systems". The panel noted that two unnamed countries reported intercepting shipments destined for Syria. It did not identify the contents and said Syria had yet to respond to its inquiries. The 111-page report was written before North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test last Sunday and its latest launch of a powerful new intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan. It was made public two days before the United States has called for a vote on a new sanctions resolution.

The original US draft would impose the toughest-yet sanctions on North Korea including banning all oil and natural gas exports to the country and freezing all foreign financial assets of the government and Kim. The experts said implementation of existing sanctions "lags far behind what is necessary to achieve the core goal of denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula. They blamed "lax enforcement" of sanctions coupled North Korea's "evolving evasion techniques" for undermining the achievement of this goal which would see the North abandon all weapons of mass destruction. On the export of commodities - a key source of foreign exchange for the DPRK - the experts said that following China's suspension of coal imports from the North in February, the DPRK has been rerouting coal to other countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.

"The panel's investigations reveal that the DPRK is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions," the report said. The panel said imports of DPRK coal, iron and iron ore violate UN sanctions unless the countries have received an exemption. Between December 2016 and May 2017, for example, the DPRK exported more than £60 million of iron ore to China, the report said. And between October 2016 and May 2017, it exported iron and steel products to Egypt, China, France, India, Ireland and Mexico, valued at £231,000. There are no exemptions for importing silver, copper, zinc, nickel and gold from the DPRK. And since December 2016, the experts said China, Sri Lanka, and India imported one or more of these minerals in breach of sanctions.

As for violations of the arms embargo, the panel said it was conducting investigations in Angola, Congo, Eritrea, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Syria. In Mozambique, for example, the experts said they were looking into the reported supply of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, air defence systems, other surface-to-air missiles and radar by a North Korean trading company. They are also investigating reports that the same company is repairing and upgrading Tanzania's surface-to-air missile systems. When it comes to financial sanctions, the panel said the DPRK continues to evade and violate them in a number of ways.

Many DPRK financial institutions maintain representatives overseas who conduct transactions that facilitate prohibited programmes; many foreign financial institutions wittingly or unwittingly provide banking services to DPRK front companies and others engaged in prohibited activities; and foreign investments in DPRK banks or joint ventures give those banks access to funding and the international financial system. In addition, the experts said: "DPRK officials and entities have engaged in deceptive financial practices, including opening multiple bank accounts in the same country and in neighbouring countries in their own names, under family members' names, and in the names of front companies." As for shipping, the experts said the number of foreign-flagged DPRK vessels has been "dramatically reduced" in response to UN sanctions. But they said North Korea "continued to hone its evasion tactics" by increasing the number of DPRK-flagged ships by a corresponding number.

  
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20th Amendment in the balance
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

The parliamentary debate on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed indefinitely, senior ministers have confirmed. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the debate on the constitutional amendment is to be postponed until President Maithripala Sirisena returns from New York. «The 20th Amendment will not be debated on Wednesday as planned. We will wait until the president returns from New York on 24 September to decide on the way forward,” he told Daily FT.



Sri Lanka likely not to sign UN nuclear weapons ban treaty
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Sri Lanka is unlikely to sign the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty which is scheduled to come up for signatures at the General Assembly meeting in New York on Sept 20, Sri Lankan government sources confirmed on Sunday. Sources said the item was listed as a topic of discussion during President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to the US from Sept 17 to Sept 23. But, apparently due to last minute pressure from the US, any thought of signing the treaty has been dismissed, the sources added.



SF says troops have nothing to worry if not committed a crime
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka says soldiers involved in the war against the LTTE have nothing to worry if they have not committed a crime. He told reporters that establishing an Office of Missing Persons is not just for the people in the North and East but will also be open to those in the South.



President Sirisena arrives at New York to attend UN General Assembly Top News
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena arrived at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York today to attend the 72nd United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) Sessions. The President was warmly welcomed by Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dr. Rohan Perera, and embassy staff in New York. The President is due to address the UN General Assembly at 5.00 p.m., New York time, on September 19.



Monks from Myanmar refused visa at Katunayake Airport
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

A group of monks from Myanmar have been refused a visa at the Katunayake Airport by immigration officers. Sources said that seven monks had been refused entry at the airport. The Government had earlier decided to suspend issuing visas for tourists from Myanmar following fears that Rohingya Muslims may attempt to enter Sri Lanka to seek refuge. Sources said that a discussion was held today between officials of the Immigration Department and the Foreign Ministry where the decision not to grant visas to Myanmar nationals was discussed.



Fonseka should ‘shut up’ says former Sri Lankan president
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said the former commander of the army should “shut up”, after stating he would testify against a military colleague accused of war crimes. In an interview to Ceylon Today, Mr Rajapaksa rebuked former army commander Sarath Fonseka’s comments. “Everybody was shocked by Fonseka’s statement,” he said. “An Army Commander should not behave like this.” When asked what the former army commander should do next, Mr Rajapaksa responded, “he should shut up.”



Sri Lanka not likely to sign nuclear weapons ban treaty at UN
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

Sri Lanka, in an unprecedented move in the country’s diplomatic history, is not signing a major international treaty which it has already voted on. Along with 121 other countries, Sri Lanka voted last July to approve a landmark UN treaty that bans the possession, development, testing, and use of nuclear weapons worldwide.



Probe Into Commodities Imported From North Korea
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

The Foreign Ministry has launched an investigation into Sri Lanka importing commodities from North Korea. State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake told The Sunday Leader that Sri Lanka was found to be among the top countries importing commodities from North Korea. Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry is to issue a gazette on the sanctions imposed by the UN on North Korea. An official of the legal division of the Foreign Ministry said that the gazette will help local businessman to be aware of the sanctions.



India to assist in constructing Northern Expressway
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

India has agreed to assist in building the Northern Expressway, government sources said yesterday. Earlier this month India’s Petronet LNG obtained permission to establish a Liquid Gas Import Terminal here. The government handed over the Letter of Intent to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when she was in Colombo to attend the Second Indian Ocean Conference as well as meet with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.



Pararajasingham murder: Pillayan and six others plead not guilty
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

Former Eastern Province Chief Minister Pillayan and six others pleaded “not guilty” in the Batticaloa High Court, to charges of their involvement in the murder of former Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham. The charges were filed 11 years after the incident. High Court Judge M. Ellencheliyan fixed the next hearing for November 6 and 7, and directed the accused to appear in court on the days. Mr Pararajasingham was shot dead on December 25, 2005, while attending a church service in Batticaloa, with his wife. Charges filed against the accused are under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Penal Code.



Upcoming elections under the Electorate System
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena said the upcoming provincial councils elections would be held under the Electorate System and this system would apply to the general elections as well. President said this when he met the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members of the North-Central Provincial Council at the President’s House yesterday. He said he had proposed the ward system instead of the preferential voting system so as to introduce a new political culture as promised in his manifesto for the 2015 presidential election. The President said the preferential voting system made politicians think only of themselves and not about the people or the country. He said the new system would encourage politicians to work for the country.



President leaves for New York
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena left for New York this morning to attend the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). This is the third time that President Maithripala Sirisena is addressing the UN General Assembly. The President was accompanied by First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena. The 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72) convened at UN Headquarters on September 12. The President is due to address the General Assembly on September 19. He is also scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with several world leaders participating in the sessions.



NPC Head echoes UN Human rights High Commissioner’s warning to Lanka
[Saturday 2017-09-16 19:00]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has expressed his concern over the slow pace of reforms in Sri Lanka and said the absence of action, on accountability meant exercising universal jurisdiction was even more necessary. This means that Sri Lankans can become subject to international law even in foreign countries. This statement needs to be seen in the context of the war crimes cases registered against former army commander General Jagath Jayasuriya in five South American countries, National Peace Council Executive Director Jehan Perera said in a statement issued yesterday



No intention of entering politics: Chathurika
[Saturday 2017-09-16 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena's daughter Chaturika, said at today's launch of the book authored by her and titled, "Janadhipathi Thaththa", that she had no intention of entering party politics but would use politics for community service, women empowerment and social justice. “So many people, including my friends keep asking me when I enter politics. I am reminded of what Aristotle said that man is either a political animal or an outcast. Though I agree with him, I have no desire to indulge in politics but to engage in social welfare,” she said at the ceremony held at the BMICH at the launch of the book which describes her father's political journey.



Trio jailed after man is murdered and left to die next to a pond in Milton Keynes
[Saturday 2017-09-16 19:00]

A man and a teenage boy have both been sentenced to life imprisonment of the murder of Suren Sivananthan in Milton Keynes. Gnanachandran Balachandran, 38, of The Fleet, Springfield, and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, were sentenced on Friday (September 15) at Luton Crown Court. They both had been found guilty of murder by a jury following a seven-week trial at Luton Crown Court which concluded on August 24.



Petronet to build Sri Lanka’s first LNG terminal
[Saturday 2017-09-16 19:00]

Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest importer of gas, will partner with Japan’s Mitsubishi and Sojitz Corp to set up Sri Lanka’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Colombo, its CEO Prabhat Singh said on Friday. “Petronet will be the leader of the joint venture with the largest shareholding,” he told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting at New Delhi. Without disclosing the shareholding, he said the Sri Lankan government will also be a partner in the project.



JO claims Rs. 1.5 m collected on day 1
[Saturday 2017-09-16 18:00]

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday claimed to have collected close to Rs. 1.5 million in their first day of the ‘Pindapatha’ programme launched by the Buddhist monks in Colombo. The monks engaged in the practice to collect money to pay the fine of former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita. JO Member and UPFA MP Gamini Lokuge speaking to the Daily News, said that over 350 Buddhist monks participated in the programme.



OPV provided by the Indian Government arrives at the Colombo harbour
[Saturday 2017-09-16 18:00]

The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) provided by the Indian Government to the Sri Lanka Navy, in a bid to expand its operational capabilities, arrived at the Colombo harbour this morning (16 September 2017). The ship was received by the Navy in accordance with naval traditions upon her arrival.



Need for DNA analysis and identification of exhumed remains in Sri Lanka – US committee
[Friday 2017-09-15 19:00]

The United States Senate Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific stated that there was a need to prosecute perpetrators of mass atrocities and DNA analysis of remains in several countries, including Sri Lanka, in a report released last week. The report, which opposed a 92% cut in US aid to Sri Lanka, said that the committee “recognizes that there is an ongoing need for DNA analysis and identification of exhumed remains”.



Five policemen in Jaffna undergrads’ murder bailed
[Friday 2017-09-15 19:00]

The Jaffna High Court yesterday granted bail to the five police officers remanded in connection with the murder of two university students in Jaffna. The suspects were released on a Rs.50,000 cash bail and two Rs. 200, 000 sureties each. The Court impounded the suspects’ passports. Two university students riding on a motorcycle in Jaffna died suspiciously on October 21, 2016 and investigations revealed bullet marks on the corpses. Five Police Officers manning a checkpoint in Jaffna close to where the students were found wounded were arrested and subsequently remanded in connection with the incident.


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