The usual theatrics: more committees from Sri Lanka

In an effort to relieve some of the international pressure being exerted upon Sri Lanka regarding allegations of war crimes, the country's human rights envoy, Mahinda Samarasinghe, proclaimed a five-year action plan for human rights protection. The plan is to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council session in March next year. Details of the plan were not disclosed, but a government statement said it would largely involve setting up committees to monitor implementation of existing laws and to ensure better understanding and respect for civil rights. (See AFP's report here ). Samarasinghe,...

Scottish training for Sri Lankan Police

The Scottish Police College is in the process of training 98 Assistant Superintendants of the Sri Lankan police force in community policing. British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka John Rankin handed out certificates to the first batch of 26 officers who completed the course. Inspecter General Ilangakoon thanked the British High Commissioner and the Scottish trainers for providing this ‘important service to the public.’ Sri Lanka’s police force has been accused of torture and brutality for decades . More recently they have been accused of complicity in the ‘ grease devil’ attacks on Tamil...

Northern Province assistance faces over $200 million shortfall - UN

The Joint Plan of Assistance, a program which includes the Sri Lankan Government and the UN is facing a deficit of over $200 million according to a UN report. Of the $289 million needed, only $76.5 million had been raised so far, with further indications from UN officials that the full amount would not be met by the end of this year. See report from IRIN here . Speaking to IRIN, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) official said, " Over 60 percent of households in the Northern Province are food-insecure , and lack the income generation and food-production capacity to secure basic needs." The WFP...

Sri Lanka: calling all hangmen

The Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prisons Reforms plans to advertise for two hangmen, to execute upto 800 inmates on death row. Desanayake, the Ministry's secretary, explained, "There are two vacancies for the hangman position after one person who held the position got a promotion, and the other retired," "We are planing to advertise the vacancy calling for applications by next week as we cannot keep the position vacant." "At least 800 people convicted of murder and drugs offences could potentially be executed" The president must sign off on any judicial execution. The last execution occurred in 1976, following which death sentences were invariably commuted to life imprisonment.

Sri Lanka tries to woo Central and South America

Amidst increasing international criticism of Sri Lanka and allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Tamils, the country's Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Perara, has been dispatched to Central and South America on a very important mission. Perara, who has so far visited Mexico , Peru and the Dominican Republic , has been entrusted to present his respective counterparts with three special gifts - a copy of Sri Lanka's 'Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006- May 2009', a CD of the Sri Lanka's 'Lies agreed upon' and a no doubt well-rehearsed spiel as...

UK Conservatives support accountability in Sri Lanka

At a packed event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, the party warned that it will push Sri Lanka for accountability and support a UN report if progress isn’t seen from the LLRC. Conservative MP and former diplomat Richard Graham spoke at the event and said, “ministers have made it clear to the Sri Lankan government that if the LLRC does turn out to be a whitewash and finds no real culpability at the top, you can be absolutely sure we will push hard for a formal UN report. ” See the report from Freedom from Torture here . The event, follows on from last week’s ‘Tamils for Labour’ event at the Labour Party Conference , where Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said that the Labour party's entire front bench agreed that Sri Lanka’s LLRC, is not capable of holding an independent inquiry and called for an international investigation into war crimes. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have also said the LLRC is “ flawed at every level ” along with the Tamil National Alliance who also slammed it as “flawed” with “limited mandate”. He also stated it was “ critical for the moral authority of the UK that there is an absolutely transparent report into what happened”, given allegations of Britain’s complicity in those alleged war crimes.

To protect and serve … Sinhalese

When a mob of Sinhalese, angered by the death of man in policy custody, stormed a police station in Dompe, southern Sri Lanka, on Sunday, damaging sixteen vehicles, the police responded by arresting five police officers. However in August, when Tamils in Jaffna angered by police providing sanctuary to ‘grease devils’ – night prowlers who attack women – fleeing after being identified, the response, predictably, was quite different. Having driven off the demonstrators, the military raided their homes the following day. Many of the houses were destroyed and hundreds of youth and children were...

Natural gas found in Mannar basin

Cairn Lanka has discovered a natural gas field off the coast of Mannar in the Northern Province, the first time that deposits have been found on the island. President Mahinda Rajapakse was reportedly “ elated ” at the news, and said, "With more luck and blessings we hope we can find oil". Cairn was more cautious in its statement saying , "Further drilling will be required to establish the commerciality of the discovery". The discovery comes in the Mannar basin after Sri Lanka sold a block each to Cairn, India and China in 2007. The latter two have yet to commence drilling and are reported to...

US: political reconciliation prerequisite for economic development

Speaking at the AmCham's (American Chamber of Commerce) annual general meeting on Sri Lanka's economic outlook, US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia Butenis urged 'full political reconciliation', stressing the need for economic development and political reconciliation to go 'hand in hand', and highlighting the unquestionable 'reservoir of skills and financial resources' of the Diaspora. See full speech here . Extracts reproduced below: " I think that most would agree that in Sri Lanka economic development and political reconciliation must go hand in hand ." "I think about what more could be achieved with full political reconciliation, where every Sri Lankan feels that they have a full stake in the country and where potential foreign investors have confidence in the continued political stability of the country . The overseas Diaspora has a tremendous reservoir of skills and financial resources that could contribute so much to rebuilding Sri Lanka." " It is not just the money, it’s also the people. Their skills and overseas connections are just as important, and they can help propel Sri Lanka to the new level of development we all want."

Free to serve Sri Lanka, not free to go home

Parents of the 1800 alleged LTTE members, detained without charge by the Sri Lankan government and supposedly released last Friday, have informed BBC Tamil service , that they are yet to be united with their loved ones. According to the report, none of the 1800 detainees have been given permission by Sri Lankan authorities to go back to their parent's homes. See 'Rajapakse's self-congratulation' The supposed release of the 1800 detainees was marked with much pomp and ceremony. The event was attended by ambassadors from the US, India, UK and Australia. See 'Anger at Australian envoys role at...

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