Sri Lanka's Ports Minister refuses to liberalise shipping sector

Sri Lanka's Ports Minister, SLFP MP Mahinda Samarasinghe on Tuesday told parliament that his party would refuse to implement the liberalisation of the shipping sector as outlined by the 2018 budget. “The position of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is that we oppose this proposal. And as the minister in charge of the subject, I will not issue the gazette notification (giving effect to the budget proposal),” Mr Samarasinghe told Parliament. Asserting that the Sri Lankan president agreed with the SLFP position, he added, "the President is firmly against this move." "Our policy is not to...

Sri Lanka's export target lowered for apparels due to GSP delay

Sri Lanka's apparel industry has lowered its export target to adjust for the delay in granting of preferential trade tariffs (GSP+). “Actually, we were expecting GSP Plus to come earlier and we needed to revise the target based on the changes in economic conditions,” the chair man of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association (SLAEA) Felix Fernando was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying. The SLAEA had previously set a target of reaching $8.5 billion exports by 2020. Mr Fernando added that Brexit would have a negative impact on Sri Lanka's apparel industry, unless the countries entered a trade...

Lack of federal solution would see return to separatism, Wigneswaran tells Australian HC

The demand for a separate state will grow again if a federal solution is not adopted, the Chief Minister of the North told the Australian High Commissioner. Speaking to journalists after his meeting with High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson, Chief Minister Wigneswaran said he had pointed to the Australian federal system as a comparative to the demands for Tamil self-determination. Consecutive Sri Lankan governments had been a stumbling block to meeting the simple demands for self-rule, he said.

Navy commander ordered to give details of serving officers in case of abduction of Tamil youths

A Sri Lankan Navy commander has been ordered to provide details of all officers who served under him as the investigation into the disappearance of 11 Tamil youths was taken up in court on Wednesday. Judge Jayaratne at the Colombo Fort Magistrate Court ordered Lt. Commander Prasad Hettiarachchi to provide the details to the Criminal Investigation Department. The remanded Navy spokesperson D. K. P. Dassanayake was among 7 Navy officers to appear in court over the abductions. The case has been adjourned until December 13.

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Sri Lanka next week

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will conduct an official visit to Sri Lanka from 4th to 15th December 2017 said the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The experts will make their preliminary observations at a press conference on 15 December 2017 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH). The UN Working group comprises five independent experts Mr Jose Antonia Guevara Bermudez, Ms Leigh Toomey, Mr Setondji Roland Adjovi, and Mr Seong-Phil Hong. See statement released today here.

UK Minister for Asia and Pacific reiterates need for international judges and prosecutors in Sri Lanka's accountability process

British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field said he reiterated the need for a credible accountability process with international judges and prosecutors during his recent visit to Sri Lanka. Responding to a question tabled by MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting, Mr Field said, “During my visit in early October 2017 to Colombo and Jaffna, I raised with Foreign Minister Marapana the importance of the Sri Lankan government implementing in full its commitments under UN Human Rights Council Resolution 34/1, which rolled over the commitments made under 30/1. Resolution 30/1...

‘Making haste slowly’ is a tired refrain in Sri Lanka - HRW

Human Rights Watch called on Sri Lanka to move from promises to action, criticising the government's refrain that it was "making haste slowly". "While the government has made some progress, most of the promises remain unfulfilled. Just ahead of the UPR, the government announced that it was operationalizing the much-delayed Office of Missing Persons, one of four key transitional justice mechanisms, and funds had been budgeted. Tellingly, there was no budgetary allowance for the other three. And, while the UPR team referred to draft legislation on a truth-seeking mechanism and a reparations...

Ongoing denial of crimes by Sri Lankan government says ITJP

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) this month highlighted the widespread denial by the Sri Lankan government of the ongoing torture and rape of Tamils committed by Sri Lankan security forces. In an interview with Ceylon Today following a report published by Associated Press highlighting the ongoing crimes committed under the present government, ITJP said, "What we witness is the ongoing denial of these crimes not only by the Sri Lankan government but also some Sri Lankans, who refuse to admit that these crimes continue to be perpetrated on this scale. It is easier to blame it...

Stamps marking Maaveerar Naal released in UK

Postage stamps marking Tamil National Remembrance Day (Maaveerar Naal) were released in the UK on November 27. The stamps, depicting symbols of Tamil Eelam, including the national flower, bird, tree and animal, were launched at the Maaveerar Naal commemorative event in London.

Sri Lankan court issues stay order preventing action against Gotabaya

Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal on Wednesday issued a stay order preventing any action being taken against the former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). The order prevents any action under the Public Property Act until December 6. Mr Rajapaksa had filed a writ petition seeking an interim order to stop police arresting him after reports last week that he was to be arrested over the misappropriation of public funds. According to the FCID Mr Rajapaksa was intending to use the funds to build a museum dedicated to his parent, D A Rajapaksa. See...