'Liam Fox is gone, Sri Lanka’s lost a friend'

From UK media on the resignation Friday of UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox: " Even though [Dr. Fox] has resigned, there are questions yet to be answered about his links to the Sri Lankan government . We have to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again." - Emma Reynolds MP (Labour) "For Britain's Defence Secretary to have repeatedly visited Sri Lanka, at the regime's expense, and in the company of Werritty, a known lobbyist, sends completely the wrong signal about the need to investigate atrocities which took place there." - Alan Keenan , International Crisis Group See their comments to...

Whose waters and whose fish?

Indian and Sri Lankan navies are reportedly contemplating joint patrolling along the international maritime boundary in order to prevent any violence against fishermen. The possibility was discussed by the Indian foreign secretary, Ranjai Mathai, during his three-day visit to Sri Lanka. The suggestion comes amidst further Sri Lankan navy attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen. According to reports, the Sri Lankan navy are also employing paramilitary agents to engage in these mid-sea attacks. Indian officials have also hinted that forming a supervisory committee comprising members of both the navies...

Twist to mystery over Fox’s Sri Lanka Development Trust …

The mystery over the ‘development’ trust that former UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox set up to channel funds to Sri Lanka deepened this weekend when the Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal claimed Friday the trust “did not materialize.” Mr. Cabraal’s claims are contradicted by the results of investigations by several leading UK newspapers. The 'Sri Lanka Development Trust' is reported to have funded at least three of Dr. Fox’s visits to Colombo, reports said. And Lord Bell, a friend of Dr. Fox for 30 years, says that Dr. Fox – whilst Defence Secretary – had discussions last summer with...

You scratch my back...

The Chinese Army has promised Sri Lanka assistance with military training, with Sri Lanka responding with their own offer of military courses for Chinese soldiers. A high level delegation from the People’s Liberation Army were received by war crimes accused Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya on Thursday.

Seized “state land” to be sold commercially

Sri Lanka has announced that all state owned land in the North-East, part of the former war zone, will now be up for grabs, as the government looks to sell them commercially. Urban Development Authority Rohan Fernando told a forum on property development at the Central Bank, "Now we are making arrangements to provide lands from Mankulam, Kilinochchi and Jaffna." "So these lands will also come in to the market very soon for investment." The Urban Development Authority is under the Ministry of Defence, overseen by the President’s brother Gothbaya Rajapakse. Much of this acquired land has been...

4 international rights groups submit report on torture to UN committee

Four international human rights groups, working against the use of torture, submitted a joint report to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) to rival the committee's customary third periodic report of Sri Lanka, due to be discussed next month. The 22 page report was compiled by Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) based in Hong Kong, REDRESS Trust in London, Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark and Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture (ACAT France) in France . The report condemns the widespread torture practised in Sri Lanka, the government's failure to adequately investigate such allegations and the "inadequate legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures taken to prevent acts of torture in territory under Sri Lanka’s jurisdiction". The groups urged the UN to act, in order to ensure accounability and justice, given Sri Lanka's ongoing failure to make any meaningful progress on the issue. "Should Sri Lanka continue to fail to take the requisite measures despite the availability of credible evidence of torture and ill-treatment, it is the responsibility of the United Nations and its organs, as well as the treaty bodies, to do their utmost to ensure accountability and justice for the victims of these violations. " "It is now the next logical step to call for a full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations. " This could build on previous precedents where UN bodies have urged the Secretary-General to call for the establishment of an international accountability mechanism , namely the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "Conversely, a failure to take action would compound the climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and would constitute a betrayal of the Convention against Torture , which was adopted ‘to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world’."

President appoints brother to oversee marred Kolonnawa elections

The Sri Lanka President younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, has been appointed electoral organiser of Kolonnawa on Tuesday . Basil Rajapaksa also a senior adviser of the President and Minister of Economic Development. The role will involve being responsible for all political and development activities of the Kolonnawa elections. The Kolonnawa electorate saw severe violence inflicted on rival political factions where Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was killed alongside three of his supporters. See '4 killed, 10 wounded in ruling party gun battle'

FT on what Liam Fox’s Sri Lanka Development Trust has achieved ...

A trust set up by Liam Fox supposedly to help Sri Lanka’s development appears to have achieved nothing other than to pay for his trips to the country , one of his allies has told the Financial Times. See the report here . The Sri Lanka Development Trust consists of two funds, the “Sri Lanka Infrastructure Development Fund” and the “Sri Lanka Charitable Fund”. Yet neither fund is up and running, according to Lord Bell, whose lobbying firm Bell Pottinger represented the Sri Lankan government until last December. The Sri Lanka Development Trust is not registered as a charity or a company in the...

Werritty Oddity

Award-winning journalist Allison Pearson writes in her column for The Daily Telegraph on the Fox-Werritty saga: “It seems that our Defence Secretary hardly dared leave the country without his former flatmate coming along to hold his hand. Mr Werritty, who went on a dizzying 18 foreign trips, enjoyed access to the married minister that neglected Westminster widows can only dream of. “‘I should not have allowed the impression of wrongdoing to arise,’ weaselled Dr Fox. No, the impression of wrongdoing arose, minister, because you did wrong and went on doing it, which either makes you reckless,...

The Times slams Liam Fox’s 'rotten' ties to Sri Lanka

These are extracts of The Times’ editorial on Wednesday Oct 12: “Liam Fox has many questions to answer about the role of a personal friend at the Ministry of Defence. But one aspect of this imbroglio is already clear: in his dealings in a particular part of the world, Dr Fox exceeded the bounds of his ministerial remit. “The issue is Sri Lanka, on which Dr Fox appears to have been conducting his own independent foreign policy . That policy is wrong in itself and Dr Fox had no legitimate business pursuing it . But beyond that issue, he needs urgently to explain why Adam Werritty attended...

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