Sri Lanka increases military spending

The Sri Lankan government confirmed on Tuesday it would raise defence spending by over 5% in 2012, over 2 years since the end of the conflict. The total expenditure on military expenses in 2012 will be $2.1 billion, up from $1.92 in 2011. According to figures released in parliament, nearly half of the defence budget will be spent on maintaining the nearly 300,000 strong forces. Sri Lanka, which maintains one of the largest armies in the world, spend over 3.5% of their GDP on their military in 2010, a higher percentage spend than China’s or the United Kingdom’s. The Sri Lankan military is...

Report concludes Fox breached ministerial code

A report into the former defence secretary, Liam Fox's conduct has concluded that he did 'breach the ministerial code' and displayed a 'failure of judgment'. The report was undertaken by the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell. In it, he writes, "Dr Fox's actions clearly constitute a breach of the ministerial code which Dr Fox has already acknowledged. This was a failure of judgment on his part for which he has taken the ultimate responsibility in resigning office." Officials at Number 10, have remarked that the report findings would have made Fox's role as secretary of defence untenable, had...

Australian police investigate Rajapakse ahead of CHOGM

The Australian Federal Police have confirmed that they are “urgently reviewing” war crimes allegations made against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, as he prepares to visit Australia for next weeks’ Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The investigation will also look at two other Sri Lankan officials; Sri Lanka's former naval chief and current High Commissioner to Australia Thisara Samarasinghe and dual Australian-Sri Lankan citizen Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary during the final years of the war. The International Commission of Jurists, Australia (ICJA) and the...

“In the North and East, police brutality is a way of life”

Speaking to Parliament earlier this month, Tamil National Alliance MP M.A. Sumanthiran raised the issue of policing in the North-East and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Extracts have been reproduced below: “ In the North and East, police brutality is a way of life. Public protests that have erupted all over the North and East in response to the widely believed involvement of the police and the armed forces in the ‘grease devils’ saga have been met with violent retaliation from the authorities. A number of people have died, and scores more badly injured. Some of the assaults were not only...

Private intelligence firm ‘donated money for Sri Lanka development’ – at Fox’s behest.

A key donor to Pargav Ltd, the company run by Mr. Adam Werritty, the close friend and styled advisor to UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox who resigned on Friday, said its contribution was meant for development activities in Sri Lanka. See reports by The Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , the Financial Times and the Daily Mail . G3 (or the ‘Good Governance Group’), which donated Pargav £15,000 in June 2011 , is a private intelligence company staffed by former MI6 officers, The Guardian reports. Dr. Fox visited Sri Lanka in July 2011 to deliver a public lecture. Mr. Werritty was also in the country...

Just Desserts

The resignation of British Defence Secretary Liam Fox following revelations about his unauthorised and dubious foreign policy-related activities will be welcomed by all those committed to a just and lasting peace in Sri Lanka. However the serious questions raised – once again – by last week’s media reports about Dr. Fox’s activities must also be answered. Dr. Fox resigned because, in his own words, “I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred.” Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Sri Lanka.

Jaffna Students: Sri Lankan Government responsible for assault

Following Monday’s attack on Mr Thavapalasingam, President of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU), students from the University gathered in protest against the serious assault and the continued intimidation of Tamil students in Jaffna.

Growing calls for prosecution of Sri Lankan envoy to Australia

The International Commission of Jurists, Australia (ICJA), urged the Australian government to ensure accountability and justice, i n a statement released on Monday, The president of the ICJA, John Dowd QC, called for the suspension of Sri Lankan from the Commonwealth and the prosecution of former navy commander, and current Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, for alleged war crimes. Dowd said, “ Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 must not be allowed to go unpunished .” “In continuing violation of international human rights law , there are thousands of former combatants and civilians in Sri Lankan detention camps still not identified or accounted for.” “The International Commission of Jurists, Australia has furnished the Australian Federal Police with a brief of evidence that corroborates and substantiates the findings of the UN Secretary-General’s Expert Panel. Since October 2009, such evidence has been taken from witnesses in Australia and overseas." “ It is clear that Australia has an obligation to investigate and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible ." “Australia owes this much to the Australian citizens and residents who are victims of the Sri Lankan civil war.” " If the Commonwealth is to mean anything at all on issues like human rights, it has to look to the actions of its members. This is one of its members who's the putative next host in 2013," Former Sri Lankan navy admiral Samarasinghe was the North-East commander during 2009. Several eye witnesses statements state that naval ships fired on civilians as they fled the conflict. Australia's shadow foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, has raised concerns over whether the government knew of Samarasinghe's highly questionable past before accepting him as Sri Lanka's High Commissioner. Speaking to the Australian press, Bishop said, " The allegations against the Sri Lankan high commissioner are extremely serious. Kevin Rudd should review whether the government was aware of the allegations prior to accepting his appointment as high commissioner, and whether the government undertook any inquiries or investigations into the appointment ." Samarasinghe has refuted all allegations: "I specifically reject, totally reject such allegations. Such allegations are baseless."

Police to investigate Werritty for possible fraud

The Metropolitan police are to investigate Adam Werritty for possible fraud, following revelations that the close friend of the former defence secretary, Liam Fox, had been posing as an official advisor and sitting in on defence meetings. The Labour MP, John Mann, has called for the investigation, citing Werritty's distribution of business cards, describing himself as Fox's advisor. Mann is also reported to be liaising with the Electoral Commission to consider whether there should be a criminal investigation into Liam Fox's alleged failure to declare political donations. The Electoral...

President of Student Union attacked in Jaffna

The leader of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) K. Thavapalan has been attacked and seriously injured by suspected Sri Lankan Army personnel. Thavapalan, who was elected as president of the JUSU in 2010, was followed by the assailants before being attacked with iron bars, causing grave injuries. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Mr Thavapalan has been instrumental in organising recent protests by hundreds of students against grease devil attacks, suspected to be perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Army. The JUSU was one of the organisations US...

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