IMF arrives as rupee slips and slides

Cartoon in the Island entitled 'Dollar punches rupee' An International Monetary Fund is expected in Colombo today as the Central Bank, again, promised not to intervene in the currency markets to support the value of the Sri Lankan rupee. The rupee settled this week at a level of about 131 / 132 to the US dollar, having steadily fallen from a level of about 109/ 110 late last year. (See chart here for rupee’s decline). The Central Bank had attempted to halt this decline by selling off its reserves of dollars, spending US $ 2.6 billion in the five months from August last year. It was eventually forced to abandon this policy because the money ran out and the IMF refused to release a US $ 400 million loan instalment until Sri Lanka allowed the rupee to fall to its natural level. Sri Lanka is now seeking the final US $ 420 million of an IMF loan agreed in June 2009.

Military says check points reduced in Colombo

The Sri Lankan military has announced that soldiers were removed from "most" of the army check-points in Colombo on Saturday, reports Xinhua. The army spokesperson, Ruwan Wanigasooriya, said, "We removed most of the army checkposts in the city on Saturday and handed it over to the police. This is as a result of the continuing improvements we see in the security of the city," According to Xinhua, the sri Lankan army headquarters is due to be relocated outside of Colombo to make room for 5-star hotels. Meanwhile the government has rebuked any calls to de-militarise the North-East. See here and here for comments by Mahinda Rajapaksa and here for comments by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. See also: Military marks 4000 acres for construction in Mullaitheevu (02 Jun 2012)

Pillay's invitation cannot be a fact finding mission - Mohan Peiris

Confirming that the UN High Commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay has been invited to Sri Lanka to "observe its post-war development and reconciliation efforts", former attorney general, Mohan Peiris, asserted that "he government has not extended any invitation to any fact finding mission". According to the official website of the Ministry of Defence (see here ), Peiris said, "The government of Sri Lanka has extended an invitation to United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navaneethan Pillay to visit Sri Lanka to observe its post-war development and reconciliation efforts. The...

'Torture would not stop' - President's counsel

Commenting on a bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice which seeks to extend the time that police are allowed to detain a suspect from 24 to 48 hours, the President's Counsel, MP Wijedasa Rajapaksha, asserted that “ even if the amendments were not brought and the law stayed as it is the torture would not stop ." Wijedasa Rajapaksha made those comments responding to queries stating that the extra time under police custody would increase the torture of suspects. Wijedasa Rajapaksha went on to state: "To this end the BASL has done everything possible to ensure that lawyers and suspects rights...

Rajapaksa's 'words of wisdom'

Addressing United Nations Day of Vesak celebrations in Bangkok on Saturday, Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa said : “The superiority of one individual or a group of people or community, therefore, is not through a particular divine right or by virtue of their birth, but by their actions. The manner in which one group conducts itself will determine whether it is worthy of a higher or lower label. " "Such words of wisdom are of paramount value in today’s context, where certain nations and groups have endeavoured to preach and lord over others by virtue of their given labels -- super...

Body found by Bambalapiti Hindu College

The mutilated body of a male was found by Bambalapiti Hindu College on Friday morning, reported Uthayan. The Sri Lankan police believe he was believe he was murdered the night before. According to Uthayan, the victim is from Batticoloa.

Buddhist monk convicted of child abuse

A senior Buddhist monk from south London has been jailed for sexually assaulting an underage girl. Pahalagama Somartana, 65, of the Thames Buddhist temple in Selsdon, was sentenced to seven years in jail after being found guilty of carrying out four sexual attacks on a girl aged between 8 and 9 at the time of the attacks. The court heard how Somaratana, a Sinhalese originally from Sri Lanka, enticed his victim to his room with sweets before touching her. He had denied attacks at a temple in Chiswick between 1977 and 1978, and a second string of attacks at the Croydon temple in the mid 80's,...

Military marks 4000 acres for construction in Mullaitheevu

Sri Lankan Army has been constructing houses in Thirumurukandi, Mullaitheevu district, after seizing 4,000 acres of land reports Uthayan. Project “War Heroes Housing Scheme” started last year intending to establish one thousand houses, fully equipped with modern facilities, for 'disabled' Sri Lankan soldiers. It has recruited over 2000 Sinhala construction workers from the southern part of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile the 126 families from Thirumurukandi who had long lived in the area and owned land, remain internally displaced, living in welfare centres or at the good-will of their friends and...

To go back to the IMF for more

Sri Lanka is to request a further US$500 million after the completion of the Standby Arrangement (SBA) of US$2.6 billion next month, the International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister, Sarath Amunugama, revealed on Wednesday. Amunugama said , “This will be an important policy support for the government as it faces some critical issues like rising prices in fuel and other commodities in the global market,” “The SBA with the IMF will end with the release of the final tranche of some US$ 500 million. The IMF programme with Sri Lanka for the release of US$2.6 billion has been judged to be a...

More evidence of Tamils facing torture - TAG

A report by the Tamil rights group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), provides primary evidence supporting the claims of torture against failed asylum seekers, and Tamils deemed to be political active. Find report here . See TamilNet article here . One signed witness statement, which we should warn is extremely distressing, said: "... about 5 CID officers beat me . And pushed me roughly and tightly. They hit my head against the wall and tore my T shirt off. Then one person untied the knots in my hand and ordered me to undress. They forced me to undress and then beat me left and right with their booted legs ..."