Look but don’t touch

The Sri Lankan Army has escorted a group of Internally Displaced Persons back to their villages in Sampur, located in the Eastern Province, for a ‘visit’, according to reports . 138 families from the Navarathnapuram village were allowed to revisit their homes located in High Security Zones, as they were accompanied by the Army’s 224 brigade. The area was captured by the Sri Lankan government in September 2006, with 5 villages still remaining under Army control in the High Security Zone.

Sri Lanka turns down UN special rapporteurs team

The Sri Lankan government has turned down a request by UN officials to assess the progress the country has made in implementing certain recommendations of the contentious Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation report, reported the Daily Mirror . Instead, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry, called on the Human Rights Commissioner to visit the country herself. The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, recently asserted that she would like to send 10 special rapporteurs to assess the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

Tax free land to China

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who also acts as the Minister of Finance and Planning, has commissioned the sale of tax free l and in the Southern c apital Colombo to the Chinese embassy, reported the Sunday Times . Any transfer of property ownership to foreign citizens, under usual provisions of the Finance Act, should be taxed according to the value of the property transferred. However, using his overarching power as President and Finance Minister, Rajapaksa offered the Chinese embassy exemption from such charges.

SL revokes visas of International Bar Assoc mission

The visas of members of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), who were due to travel to Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission over the recent impeachment of the Chief Justice, had their visas revoked, according to the Institute. In a statement, the institute said : "A visa had been issued to one member of the delegation on 18th January 2013 and was revoked on 29th January 2013, while approval to enter the country was suspended in the cases of other delegates on 29th and 30th January 2013.” The delegation, which was to be led by the former Indian Chief Justice J.S...

SL fails to take meaningful steps towards accountability - HRW

In its World Report 2013 published today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that "the Sri Lankan government in 2012 continued its assault on democratic space and failed to take any meaningful steps towards providing accountability for war crimes ." See here for the Sri Lanka section. Extracts published below: "The government targeted civil society through threats, surveillance, and clampdowns on activities and free speech. Statements by government officials and government-controlled media named and threatened human rights defenders who called for accountability for wartime abuses or criticized other government policies. Local activists expressed deep concern about the security of their staff and the people they assist. Overly broad detention powers remained in place under various laws and regulations. Several thousand people continued to be detained without charge or trial. State security forcescommitted arbitrary arrests and torture against ethnic minority Tamils, including repatriated Sri Lankan nationals allegedly linked to the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka sure of India’s support at UNHRC

Sri Lanka’s Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the government is confident that India will support Sri Lanka against the US-sponsored resolution at the Human Rights Council in Geneva next month. “Our position is that India is our greatest friend and closest neighbour and they have been extremely supportive in many issues and they have been a friend indeed. So we believe that stand,” he told reporters . “Of course last time they had to opt out, they had given certain reasons, all this we discuss at a diplomatic level. “From time to time international relations change for a variety of...

Tamil parties and groups on Berlin meet

Representatives of Tamil political parties and civil society and diaspora groups who met last weekend in Berlin will continue discussions in the coming months, the Global Tamil Forum said this week. The full text of the statement on behalf of the participating organisations follows: Tamil political and civil society representatives, and Diaspora groups have convened in Berlin on the 26th & 27th January 2013 for progressive discussions on how to end the Sri Lankan State's continued agenda of destruction of Tamil people’s identity (genocidal), the heightened oppressive conditions, the...

Douglas to stand for Chief Minister

The Minister for Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda, who is also leader of the paramilitary EPDP, has announced that he would resign from his ministerial position to contest the Northern Provincial Council Elections as a candidate for the Chief Minister position. The Island reported that the president Mahinda Rajapakse was not going to allow Douglas to resign from the cabinet, with Kumar Padmanathan also a name making its rounds as a candidate. Douglas is one of the most notorious paramilitary figures and has an outstanding arrest warrant from India, for...

Australian authorities suspect SL govt official of 'smuggling'

Authorities in Australia suspect a high level Sri Lankan government official of being personally "complicit" in the transfer of asylum seekers to Australia, reports The Australian. The newspaper reports that the official, whom the paper has chosen not to identify, is alleged to be responsible for sanctioning asylum seekers boats for the past ten months, during which time several refugees have perished at sea. Despite the allegations being known to those within Julia Gillard's government and being unearthed prior to the Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr's visit to Sri Lanka in December, the...

Sri Lanka ranks 162nd for press freedom

Reporters Without Borders has ranked Sri Lanka in 162nd place out of 179 countries in the annual "Press Freedom Index 2013", as media freedom in the island continues to suffer. The report, entitled " Dashed Hopes Follow Spring ", also placed Sri Lanka in the category of "very serious situation", in the world press freedom map. Speaking about the report, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said, “The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better...