Sri Lanka dismisses Canadian warning

Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary has dismissed a warning by a Canadian minister that there might be a revival of “radicalisation by the diaspora”. The Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney made the comments in Ontario last week, adding that he found the political situation was deteriorating and he had shared his views with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Foreign Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama, dismissed the warning, telling Xinhua that the government knows what it was doing. "Sri Lanka's human rights record is much better than other countries. The...

HRW urges CHOGM to reconsider SL as venue

In an open letter to the Commonwealth Heads of Government, Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch's Asia director, urged that the choice of Sri Lanka as the venue for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) be changed given the state's failure to achieve meaningful progress five benchmarks outlined in an open letter late last year . See here for full letter, extracts reproduced below: "Human Rights Watch believes that these benchmarks are reasonable and well within what any rights-respecting government—particularly a Commonwealth government committed to implementing the 1991...

Jaffna newspaper distributor attacked

The circulation manager of Jaffna newspaper ‘ Thinakkural’ was hospitalised after being assaulted by a gang of motorcyclists early on Wednesday morning. 46-year-old Sivagurunathan Sivakumar was followed by six individuals, all with their faces covered by helmets, on three motorbikes as he was doing his daily distribution rounds in Jaffna. Picture courtesy of TNPF Twitter . Sivakumar recalls being overtaken and stopped by one motorbike, punched in the face by one individual and beaten with metal poles and clubs by the others. Sivakumar’s motorcycle and the bundles of newspapers which he had been transporting were then set alight by the attackers. The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) condemned the ‘barbaric’ and ‘malicious’ assault. In a statement released in Tamil on Thursday, the TNPF said: “Last month, a distribution worker for Uthayan was attacked in this same style... These attacks have been carried out by forces with no respect for democracy - anti-democratic forces incapable of engaging in discussions and instead trust in cultures of violence and murder."

BTF deplores UK minister's comments made on massacre beach

The British Tamils Forum said this week it deplores the statement by the UK’s Minister in charge for Sri Lanka, Rt Hon Alistair Burt, in which he suggested that the island’s conflict has ended. The BTF’s statement follows: On his highly controversial trip to Sri Lanka, Minister Burt is seen giving an interview on the beaches of Mullivaikkal, with John Rankin, the British High commissioner in Sri Lanka, in which he repeatedly states that the conflict has ended in Sri Lanka. [See the full interview here .] Mullivaikal, a coastal village in the north east corner of the Island of Sri Lanka was where over 40,000 Tamils were massacred in just the final few days of the war in 2009. Gordon Weiss, a UN spokesman during the war described this as the "Srebrenica Moment". British Tamils Forum’s Parliamentary Coordinator Nad Mylvaganam conveying the feelings of the Tamil people said “ The insensitivity at the choice of the place for his interview and the manner in which he refers to the conflict as a thing of the past, has incensed Tamil people who are still mourning their loved ones massacred on those beaches. Minister Burt’s untimely visit undermines the efforts of Human Rights defenders who are working hard to hold the regime to account. ”

Sri Lankan garment exports lose market share

Sri Lanka’s garment industry is losing market share in its key export destinations, the US and the EU, to its competitors from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam and Cambodia, according to a report by the Colombo-based Institute of Policy Studies. "Despite considerable increases in absolute export earnings to both and US and EU markets, it is of concern to note that Sri Lanka’s relative market share in garment exports has been losing ground. The increase in export earnings over the years has been due largely to a shift in Sri Lankan garment exports from the US to EU," the IPS said in its report, ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2012’. "Sri Lanka has been seeing a steady decline in its market share in the US from 2.3 percent in 2005 to 1.8 percent in 2011. Sri Lanka has been losing out to countries such as Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia. Pakistan’s share in the US apparel market was significantly below that of Sri Lanka in 2005 at 1.8 percent, but is now ahead at 2.1 percent. Diversification of its product range, marketing and large investments in value-added sectors including sewing machines, stitching, knitting, finishing and knitting processing have contributed towards Pakistan’s progress," "While Sri Lanka has been successful in penetrating the EU market, 2010 and 2011 have seen a marginal decline in the share compared to 2009. Moreover, Sri Lanka is bound to lose its foothold further as the EU GSP Plus concessions eroded. Sri Lanka garment exports will face higher tariffs under the new reforms that would come into effect from 2014. Whereas China and Turkey still account for over half of the garment export share in the EU, Sri Lanka has been losing its market share to competitor countries such as Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Cambodia. Bangladesh has been particularly successful in penetrating the EU market, with an increase of 6.2 percent in 2009 to 11.2 percent in 2011.” Industry sources said the country was losing around US$ 1 billion each year due to the withdrawal of GSP Plus, said The Island .

IBAHRI reject GoSL explanation of visa refusals

The International Bar Associations Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) expressed serious concern over the visa rejections of its four delegation members who had intended on visiting Sri Lanka. According to Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry, the delegates which included the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Justice J S Verma, had provded inaccurate information on their visa applications regarding the purpose of their trip. The Ministry reportedly argued, 'the visit was to surreptitiously undertake an activity which is of an intrusive nature to the sovereignty of Sri Lanka'...

Sri Lanka looks to inhibit ‘terrorist’ funding

The Sri Lankan parliament produced a draft bill that looks to revise the current legislation on ‘terrorist’ financing, reported Colombo Page . The Sri Lankan government claimed that revisions of the Terrorist Financing Act No 25 of 2005 needed revision to combat the threat of active ‘terrorists’ oversees. The Act was amended in 2011, resulting in several terms being redefined. Initially targeted ‘terrorist groups’, the act was expanded to include ‘individual terrorists’ and consider any asset as funding , whether they were kept within or outside Sri Lanka. Further amendments allowed for any...

UK to support UN resolution

The British government will support an upcoming resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council, stated Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt in Twitter, earlier on Tuesday. Burt's comments were made on the social networking site, as he hosted a live session responding to questions from Twitter users, who tweeted with the hashtag "#askFCO". When asked if the UK would support the proposed resolution on Sri Lanka for the upcoming UN Human Rights Council session, Burt responded, "Yes. Still believe that although progress been made, much remains to be done. Hope SL gov will work constructively." On the subject of human rights defenders and intimidation, Burt stated, "Essential that human rights defenders are free to speak out as we continue to make clear to SL authorities" "there is freedom of speech but too many comments about intimidation to be ignored" He also went on to address questions from the Global Tamil Forum, the British Tamil Forum, members of the TNPF, Freedom From Torture and Action Against Hunger. See his full Twitter feed of the session below.

SL will not welcome resolution at UNHRC – Minister

The Sri Lankan government will reject the US-sponsored resolution at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, said a member of the cabinet. Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Daily News that Sri Lanka has fulfilled its obligations as a member of the UN. "We will explain our human right standards and progress achieved in the sphere of national reconciliation in terms of the previous UN resolution," "This is not the first time that US -sponsored resolutions have come against sovereign states in Asia at the UNHRC. We will not welcome...

Australia coalition would disclose more info on asylum seekers to SL

The opposition immigration spokesperson, Scott Morrison, said that if in power they would provide more data on asylum seekers arriving by boat to Sri Lanka. Morrison said that "generic" information would be supplied, including location of where the boats departed from, where the asylum seekers are from and the name of the smuggler, reports The Australian. He added that they would not disclose the names of aslyum seekers. Speaking to The Australian, Morrison said : "We understand there is sensitivity about people's specific information, but that doesn't mean it should operate as a one-way...

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