Highest ever defence budget passed

The Sri Lankan government has passed the highest defence budget in history Tuesday, after it passed in Parliament with a majority vote. The budget comes despite the war having officially ended more than two and a half years ago. The defense budget has now increased from 215 billion rupees (about 1.92 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011 to 230 billion rupees (about 2.1 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012. Research organization Verite commented to Shanghai Daily , "It is clear from the lack of opposition protest that large defense expenditure, despite the end of the war, has become normal in Sri Lanka."...

Sampanthan squeaks

The leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) added his voice on Monday, to the now deafening call of the Tamil nation, and human rights activists worldwide, for an independent, international investigation. Sampanthan urged the international community to ensure a "mechanism for accountability", stating that the LLRC report “ categorically fails to effectively and meaningfully deal with issues of accountability ”. Acknoweledging that “ the findings of the LLRC offend the dignity of these victims ”, Sampanthan added, “The LLRC concludes that, on these issues, the government is not responsible...

Sri Lankan army 'assassinated surrendering Tamils' - military official

A former senior military official in the Sri Lankan army states that the army " assassinated surrendering Tamils " reports The Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK Sunday - Sri Lankan army commanders 'assassinated surrendering Tamils' (19/12/11). The witness, a major general, states that the defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, gave " some instructions to a field commander to get rid of those LTTE [Tamil Tiger] cadres [who] are surrendering without adhering to normal procedures ". The witness added that such instructions " should come from either the secretary of the defence, with the...

Editorial: No more excuses, it is time to act

Now that Sri Lanka's farcical attempt at accountability - the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report - has finally been published, there can be no more excuses. The LLRC has for too long been the international community's fig leaf, used by governments across the world, including the US and the UK, to stall calls for accountability and a credible investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The commission's inquiry, its findings and its recommendations serve only to further vindicate the overwhelming justification for an independent,...

Human rights organisations slam report, urge world to act

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have slammed the LLRC report's failure to address the most serious allegations of war crimes and call upon governments to call for an international investigation. In a statement - 'Sri Lanka: Report Fails to Advance Accountability' - HRW stated, "The report of the Sri Lankan government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) disregards the worst abuses by government forces , rehashes longstanding recommendations, and fails to advance accountability for victims of Sri Lanka’s civil armed conflict ." " The LLRC report provides no realistic pathway for holding accountable military and government officials implicated in serious abuses ." Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director said, “The commission’s failure to provide a road map for investigating and prosecuting wartime perpetrators shows the dire need for an independent, international commission. ” "The commission shockingly fails to call for any criminal investigations into artillery shelling of crowded areas in which tens of thousands of civilians died." ” It is clear that justice for conflict-related abuses is not going to happen within Sri Lanka’s domestic institutions,” “The government has been playing for time by appointing the LLRC. That time has now run out.”

Rajapaksa seeks time to respond to US court summons

Counsel for Mahinda Rajapaksa filed a motion for "enlargement of time to respond to the complaint" at the US Dictrict Court of Columbia, reported Tamilnet . Mahinda Rajapaksa was served a US court summons in October, under the US Torture Victim's Protection Act for extrajudicial killings - a civil suit. Speaking to Tamilnet, spokesperson for the US based activist group, TAG, said, "This is a landmark development for the expatriate Tamils who are forcing Sri Lanka's President to a neutral western court to answer charges of war-crimes. From absolute immunity enjoyed by Heads of State before...

Sri Lanka places conditions on unblocked website

The Supreme Court has ordered the unblocking of a website critical of the government. Sri Lanka Mirror was one of several websites blocked by the Sri Lankan government in recent months for propagating ‘false information’. The websites, including Lanka-e-news and Sri Lanka Guardian, are all highly critical of the ruling party. The conditions placed on Sri Lanka Mirror by the Supreme Court include a ban on providing links to any of the websites still blocked. The EU and US missions in Colombo expressed concern at the time of the ban, calling on Sri Lanka to allow media to operate freely. See...

LLRC report released - 'no intentional killings by security forces'

The long awaited report by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been presented to the Sri Lankan parliament today. For full report click here or here . In its conclusion the report stated that no civilians were intentionally targeted in the No-Fire-Zones.

Britain deports more Tamils despite on-going torture

Upto 50 Tamil asylum seekers in the UK are being deported to Sri Lanka on Thursday reported The Guardian newspaper. The deportation comes despite recent reports by Freedom From Torture (a UK based torture victim NGO) and the UN Committee Against Torture detailing damning evidence of on-going torture. Activists and campaigners have also heavily criticsed the UK Government's failure to monitor the wellbeing of Tamils following deportation. According to The Guardian, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) lodged a petition at the High Court this week, stating the UK government had failed to review its...

Tamil civil society slam TNA's dithering leadership

A multitude of Tamil civil society groups condemned the " deception and deviatory polity " of the TNA's leadership , in a memorandum presented to the party leader's on Tuesday, reported Tamilnet. It added that the impressive list of signatories to the memorandum, including trade unionists, community leaders, religious leaders, academics, profressionals and educationalists, urged "firmness of leadership in political stand" and asserted that " Tamils are not a ‘minority’ requesting concessions, but a nation demanding self-rule ". See here for Tamilnet report in full. Extracts of the memorandum...

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