Sri Lanka 'must be held accountable' – Chidambaram

India's Finance Minister has called for Sri Lanka to be 'held accountable' for human rights violations committed during the armed conflict, as he addressed the 2013 South Asian Diaspora Convention on Thursday. Addressing over 1,000 delegates, Finance Minister P Chidambaram stated , " I think the Sri Lankan government owes a responsibility and a duty to its own people and the people all over the world to investigate the allegations of human rights violations and punish those who are responsible ." " That's an aspiration or a desire that recognises no national boundaries. It is a human rights issue." He went on to add that the Sri Lankan government, “ is indeed accountable, they must be held accountable, and they must bring to book those perpetrators to justice ".

Mannar Citizens' Committee speaks out against threats by security forces

The Mannar Citizens’ Committee, in a letter addressed to the Sri Lankan president today, outlined the intimidation and threats that Tamil human rights activists were facing in the North-East. The committee expressed concern regarding strong evidence that suggested police and army forces were responsible for several cases of threats and intimidation against human rights workers, in the lead up and after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Extracts from the letter , which also included descriptions of individual cases of intimidation, are reproduced below. “The competent authorities in the higher echelons of the Security Sector claim that the Government restored peace and security to the citizens of this country, but it is not so practically. The security excesses, CID threats and intimidation continue to be the order of civil routine almost daily. ” “Civil Organisations and their workers face threats and intimidation by various types from the intelligence side varying from warning to telephone threats, extortion and intimidation. Even the people affected in various forms expressing their grievances, objections or protests in the internationally accepted democratic way and peaceful resistance are not tolerated in this Country. ”

Six charged with Khuram Shaikh murder

Six people charged with murdering British tourist Khuram Shaikh were granted bail on Friday. The suspects, including the chairman of Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha, Sampath Vidanapathiranage, pleaded not guilty to the charges including the killing of Shaikh on Christmas Eve 2011, and sexually assaulting his partner.

The Pope and the war criminal

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with Pope Francis (defence.lk) The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, was granted an audience with Pope Francis. The Pope received Gotabhaya, who was visiting as the special envoy of his brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the Vatican, along with his wife Ioma Rajapaksa, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Holy See Ravinatha Ariyasinghe, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Rome Bennet Cooray, the Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage and Chairman of the Urban Development Authority Nimal Perera. The visit has been widely...

Compulsory ‘leadership and positive attitude’ training for Sri Lanka's university entrants

Sri Lanka’s mandatory military-run ‘Leadership and Positive Attitude’ program for new university students begins this weekend. The three-week training program, conducted for the third consecutive year, is to be held for three waves of students in 22 military camps island wide, Colombopage reports.

Monks protest outside UK High Commission

Buddhist monks held a protest outside the British High Commission in Colombo today, rallying against calls for an international independent inquiry into war crimes committed during the final stages of the armed conflict in 2009. Monks from the Ravana Balaya movement accused Britain of committing their own war crimes in 1818, which they went on to demand an investigation for.

Scotland's silence over Sri Lanka disappointing

Richard Hamer, programme director of Amnesty International in Scotland criticised Scotland’s sports minister Shona Robison for not speaking out about human rights while in Colombo. Writing in the Scotsman, Hamer argued that the UN Human Rights Council must establish an international investigation in its March session. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: “THERE has been much talk of the legacy the 2014 Commonwealth Games will leave for the people of Glasgow and Scotland as a nation, but becoming a silent witness to war crimes was not the sort of thing we had in mind.”

The time for an international investigation is now

Acclaimed journalist J. S. Tissainayagam in an opinion on Thursday, argued that an international investigation into Sri Lanka's war crimes is long overdue. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: "British Prime Minister David Cameron’s presence at last week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) facilitated coverage that might not have been possible otherwise for media organisations. But if the human rights and war crimes issues highlighted by the international media are to be redressed and Commonwealth values and international law upheld, the band-aid solution proposed by the Sri Lanka government and aided by the Commonwealth Secretariat has to be dismissed. Instead, what is required is implementing an international investigation into war crimes. "

Taxes raised on food items in 2014 budget

Sri Lanka is raising taxes on food and telecommunication services, and will remove VAT exemptions on several goods, the 2014 budget revealed. Taxes have been raised on wheat flour, cheese, curd, margarine, sauces, sausages, sweets, chocolates, cereals, pasta, nuts and fruits.

Australia policy emboldens Sri Lanka

Dr Nick Cheesman, a research fellow at the department of political and social change in the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific, writes in the Canberra Times arguing that Abbott's deportation policy damages Australia's credibility and endangers the rights of asylum seekers coming from Sri Lanka. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: "At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka at the weekend, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that while his government ''deplores the use of torture, we accept that sometimes, in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen''.

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