HRW urges UNHRC to act on Sri Lanka during March session

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the UN Human Rights Council to act against the continued lack of accountability for abuses committed in Sri Lanka. In a letter , addressed to council members, HRW called on the council to undertake credible measures towards accountability, as the Sri Lankan Government is still continuing to ignore calls for an independent accountability mechanism, nearly 3 years after the end of the armed conflict. "The Human Rights Council is uniquely positioned to ensure that the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka's...

Sri Lankan stock exchange ‘second worst in the world’

The Colombo stock exchange, the best-performing stock market of 2009, has slumped to become the second-worst, only just ahead of Bangladesh. The table, compiled by Bespoke Investment Group , looks at year to date stock market returns for 78 countries. Sri Lanka’s bourse saw the second biggest loss of -7.94% compared to last year, placing them 77th on the list. The Island blames the slump on over regulation and quoted brokers as saying that a lack of foreign inflows is also to blame for the lack of growth.

Time to put principles into action at UN Human Rights Council

Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, writes a piece entitled “Tamils await their peace dividend” , for the Globe and Mail. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . “For Tamils, the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war has brought no peace dividend; for Tamil women, peace has brought with it a continuation – and in some cases an intensification – of violence and insecurity.” “There is, however, an opportunity to address Sri Lanka’s entrenched culture of denial and impunity – including for crimes...

Sri Lanka’s killing fields are ‘beyond the boundary’

Ahead of the English Cricket team’s planned tour of Sri Lanka in March, former Member of European Parliament Robert Evans has written in the Tribune Magazine, calling on the tour to be cancelled and for a full independent international investigation into war crimes. See the full piece here . Extracts have been reproduced below. "The reality is somewhat different and in truth, there is probably no worse or more dangerous time for an England team to travel to this troubled and divided nation. " "The case to cancel the tour is augmented in the light of Jon Snow’s ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ " "Despite being faced with the ‘evidence’ in this video, authenticated by the UN, the Sri Lankan Government has dismissed the tapes as fabricated and refuses to initiate a proper investigation or take any action against the accused soldiers. " "But neither the international community nor the International Cricket Council should accept this position... An England cricket team should not tour a country where the Government stands accused of such appalling atrocities and refuses to investigate them. " "Apologists for apartheid claimed then that politics and sport were completely separate, and that the internal politics of South Africa were nothing to do with cricket. Nelson Mandela being imprisoned for 27 years because for the colour of his skin was not for some, a reason to isolate South Africa from international cricket. " "Fast forward forty years and there are few people who will argue that Mike Gatting, Graham Gooch and their rebel tours helped the cause. Likewise those who condone apartheid today are silent, dangerous and very few in number. " "In the light of this international condemnation, it would be naive and provocative at the very least, for Andrew Strauss or anyone else to lead an England team to play tests in Colombo and Galle. With perhaps as many as six of the possible England team being South African born, the politics and sport arguments will be familiar to them. "

Never promised 13+ says Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has flatly denied that he ever told India's external affairs secretary, SM Krishna, that he would go beyond the 13th Amendment in the constitution. When asking by a journalist Monday, Rajapaksa reportedly said, "Oh, No! How can I make promises like that? I have referred the issue to Parliament. I have nominated government representatives to the PSC. But unfortunately, neither the UNP nor the JVP has nominated theirs. It is the same with the Tamil National Alliance as well." "We can use our parliamentary majority to do that, but I won’t. The...

Sri Lanka to host England on ‘sub-standard’ cricket pitch

The venue of the first test match of England’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka is currently without water or electricity. The stadium’s curator, Jayananda Warnaweera, said that supplies were cut off after bills were left unpaid by the Sri Lankan cricket board (SLC), which is under severe financial pressure. "Yes there has been an issue due to the financial crisis faced by the SLC. We discussed it with the SLC and I hope it will be settled by Tuesday," he told the BBC Sinhala service. Warnaweera insisted the pitch will be ready before the first test and hit out at criticism. “They only point the...

Sri Lankan Army General alleges war crimes in New York affidavit

A former Sri Lankan Army general has given an affidavit in New York alleging that the extrajudicial killing of civilians, surrendering cadres and dissident journalists were all organised by the Sri Lankan Government. The allegations were from a former general, who US news organisation Truthout as someone who was “extremely well-placed to comment on military activity” and “had high-level security clearance and access to the flow of orders during the final days of the conflict”. It is also reported that US State Department officials have met with the former general and have gathered “a rich...

Indian activists protest against Sri Lankan minister

Activists in India, carrying black flags and shouting slogans against the Sri Lankan government and the president, protested against Senthil Thondaman - Sri Lanka's sports and youth affairs minister and the provincial council member of Uva - during his visit to Tamil Nadu. The incident occurred by the Thirunallar Temple in Pondicherry. The group of around twenty activists are believed to be members of the the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. According to reports, the police tried to stop the protest, however eventuallyresorted to escorting Thondaman away from the temple under heavy security...

Obama war crimes envoy to visit SL – report

Unconfirmed reports have said the United States’ Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues is due to visit Sri Lanka next week. Stephen J. Rapp is expected to have discussion with President Rajapakse and review the LLRC report ahead of the next UN Human Rights Council session due to commence on Feb 27. Sri Lanka’s Special Envoy for Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, has already confirmed that the report will not be presented to the UN Human Rights Council. No official confirmation of the visit has yet been made.

Human rights groups condemn Shavendra Silva's appointment to UN

A coalition of human rights groups have condemned the appointment of Sri Lanka's former military general, Shavendra Silva, to the Special Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, as " outrageous on many levels ". In a joint statement from Washington, released just before the appointment was announced, SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that such an appointment " would send an appalling message to the world: accused war criminals are legitimate authorities on peace ." Highlighting the Sri Lankan military's shocking record of abuses and sexual violence whilst being UN peace-keeping forces in Haiti , the rights groups called on the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, "to reject or rescind" any such proposal " in the interest of human rights, justice and accountability ". The appointment was made despite overwhelming calls for an independent investigation into Silva's role in the conflict. In November of last year, ten international human rights organisations, including those mentioned above, urged the UN to suspend the diplomatic credentials of Silva as Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN. The groups included: SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, Human Rights USA, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, TRIAL, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Society for Threatened Peoples. Shavendra Silva is also facing a lawsuit filed against him by the American University College of Law's UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, for allegedly perpetrating and orchestrating war crimes during the final stages for the conflict. The full text of the statement, dated 27 Jan 2012, is reproduced below: Sri Lankan and international news outlets have reported that Shavendra Silva—a former military general in the Sri Lankan army who stands accused of war crimes and torture—has been selected for a position in U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations. This appointment is outrageous on many levels , according to a coalition of human rights groups including SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Silva played a central role in the Sri Lankan Army’s brutal military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which caused up to 40,000 civilian deaths and incalculable suffering, and violated fundamental principles of international humanitarian and human rights law .