Sri Lanka indefinitely postpones torture inquiry

Sri Lanka has announced that a ‘National Inquiry on Torture’ has been postponed indefinitely, after requests from several ‘civil society organisations’, reported the Sunday Leader. The inquiry was expected to conduct investigations into allegations of torture that occurred during the final phases of the armed conflict to the present day. It was hailed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, as a an initiative that would work towards “national reconciliation” with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat. There is no word as to when the inquiry will, if ever, start. A source...

UK will 'build international support' for March 2014

Britain will be playing an 'an active role in building international support' for action on Sri Lanka at the March 2014 session of the UN Human Rights Council said the UK's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Wednesday. Responding to a question on the UK setting up an international inquiry into war crimes allegations, Hugo Swire, who recently took on the role from Alistair Burt, stated , “The Prime Minister was clear with the Sri Lankan President at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November that we expect real progress on human rights,...

More money for Jaffna prison

The government is seeking more money for the construction of a new prison complex in Jaffna, reported the Sunday Times . The government initially allocated Rs 272mn for the prison, but is now seeking Rs 21.6mn more, due to “cost escalation”.

'Widespread' and 'systematic' - British Upper Tribunal defines attacks on Tamils in Sri Lanka

A recent tribunal found it was untenable that a Sri Lankan police officer was unknowingly involved in widespread ‘systematic’ attacks on Tamils, that constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka. The UK’s Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Judges Lane and Pitt, arrived at these conclusions whilst dealing with an asylum appellant. The Sri Lankan appellant, a former police officer, named Mr AS for anonymity purposes, was in fear of persecution from the Sri Lankan government, who he claimed, suspected him of disclosing information regarding the torture and murder of Tamil suspects. Dismissing the appeal, the tribunal determined that the appellant was excluded from the Refugee Convention. The tribunal concluded that the appellant would have been aware of the systematic abuse committed against the Tamils during his service, thereby holding him directly involved or complicit in human rights violations carried out by the Sri Lankan government against the ethnic Tamil population. The Upper Tribunal findings on the 'systemic' nature of police oppression echo conclusions of a report ‘ Sri Lanka’s White Vans ’, released by Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) in 2012. The report documented the systemic nature of white-van abductions whilst tracing culpability back to the highest levels of the Sri Lankan state. Summarising the findings of the Sri Lanka's White Vans report, Jan Jananayagam from TAG, said, "Our report showed that the state is either directly a systematic perpetrator of abductions of Tamils followed by torture and/or extrajudicial killings or that it 'outsources' this activity to paramilitary groups that it co-ordinates. We showed that the Sri Lankan judiciary is complicit as well as the police, military and prison authorities - with abductees being seamlessly transferred between unofficial black sites and official holding locations. " Key findings from the Upper Tribunal case are reproduced below, “During the period of the appellant’s service in the special unit that the actions of Sri Lankan authorities were well-characterised as ‘a widespread and systematic attack’ directed at the civilian population, in particular those of Tamil ethnicity. ” “We were satisfied that there was ample evidence of a “widespread” and “systemic” attack conducted by the Sri Lankan authorities, the AI and EU reports referring in terms to the abuse of the Tamil population being part of a government strategy. ” “It is our view that the country evidence shows overwhelmingly that the Sri Lankan authorities were specifically attacking the Tamil population, the police force being agents in that attack, certainly by the way of torture and kidnapping. ”

Sri Lankan MP’s racist tirade against ‘black man’ Obama

An MP from the ruling UPFA, J.R.P. Suriyaperuma, has hurled abuse at several world leaders, including US President Obama, British Premier David Cameron and Indian PM Manmohan Singh. Suriyaperuma said Obama was a “kalla” (Sinhalese for black man) who will get his skull smashed in by the joint powers of China and Russia , reported the Sunday Times . The 85 year old MP also said David Cameron was a “political ghost” and a scoundrel who is losing power in the UK. Indian PM Manmohan Singh was also attacked, with the MP saying India was “no longer a giant but a bug” . “The Indian Prime Minister who...

NPC ministers condemn Army's involvement in schools

The Education Minister and Agriculture Miniser of the Northern Province, Kurukularaja and Iyngaranesan respectively, slammed the Sri Lankan army's encroachment on the education of Tamil children in the North-East, stating that "the army does not need to help our children". Speaking at school prize giving event in Kilinochchi at the weekend, Education Minister Kurukularaja said , "There is no reason whatsoever for the Sri Lankan army to enter schools in the North. If they wish to help they should via the Education Department. Instead, most of the military go directly into the schools and offer help. Not only does this affect the natural state, but it affects the mental state of the students when the army enter the schools." Outlining the extensive work done by the Tamils living abroad, Kurukularaja called for a mechanism to be established to ensure that the millions given by the Tamil diaspora reach those who need it most. Speaking at a similar event in Vellaangulam, Mannar, the Agriculture Minister said , “Currently, there is army involvement in the education system, as there is in every other system in Sri Lanka. In line with this, university freshers are being taken to military camps and given leadership training." This against not just democracy but also against the growth of the education, he said, before adding, "The army's leadership training is to bring in the mindset of obeying leadership instead of becoming a leader." See our earlier posts on the Sri Lankan military's involvement with Tamil school children in the North-East: Exam prep for school girls in Jaffna (24 Aug 2013)

Sri Lanka must 'fulfill public commitments' - US

The United States has reiterated that Sri Lanka must implement recommendations from the LLRC, and credibly address all allegations of 'serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law'. Speaking at the US State Department's Daily Press Briefing on Friday, Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson stated in response to a question on Sri Lanka, “The U.S. has long urged the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its public commitments, to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee report, and to develop credible justice mechanisms to address...

Sri Lanka asks for cuts in Indonesian import tariff

The Sri Lankan government has called on Indonesia to cut import tariffs on wheat flour, days after Colombo was warned by the IMF for imposing its own import tariffs. Commerce minister Rishad Bathiudeen had been quoted by Lanka Business Online , as saying to Indonesian vice minister for trade, Bayu Krisnamurthy, "We request Indonesia to reconsider this decision, since Sri Lanka's wheat flour industry, which is located in the eastern province of the country, made a significant contribution to the economic welfare of the people in that region, who were also affected by the war". Sri Lanka is...

UNP calls for all party unity against UNHRC resolution

The UNP parliamentarian, Sajith Premadasa called on all political parties to come together and form a united movement against an upcoming resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. Premadasa said , “We, the UNP strongly believe that if there is a domestic issue, it should be solved internally and not internationally. It is our duty to come together to save the country. If the resolution is passed next March at the UNHRC, the consequences could be adverse. There will be sanctions. Therefore I suggest that all parties should come together to face threats posed by international...

'No chance of reconciliation' says TNA leader to US delegation

The TNA leader R. Sampanthan said there was "no chance of reconciliation due to the actions of the Sri Lankan government", when speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who met with him in Trincomalee on Friday. Speaking to the Uthayan about the meeting with Damien Murphy and two other officials afterwards, Sampanthan said he had outlined the on-going land grabs, militarisation and Sinhala colonisation taking place in the North-East, before going on to state that if such violations continue to happen there is no chance of reconciliation.