US gives $1.5mn to local community programme in North-East

The US embassy in Colombo announced a new program to revive the fishery community in the Maradankerny Division of Jaffna. The initiative, in partnership with Sevalanka, is part of a “significant USAID livelihoods project worth $1.5 million USD that focuses on empowering economic opportunities and accelerating permanent resettlement for many displaced families”, in the North-East, a press release by the embassy said. “We know this community has repeatedly faced the hardship of rebuilding lives after numerous displacements,” Ambassador Sison said at the opening ceremony in Jaffna, accompanied...

SL looks to outline 'progress' ahead of the UNHRC

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s secretary, Lalith Weeratunga, will visit the United States today , to hold discussions over progress made by Sri Lanka on recommendations from the highly discredited Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. Weeratunga, who has been assigned responsibility of the National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), spent the past week briefing envoys of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. The Sri Lankan envoy’s actions come as the lack of progress in...

Mannar mass grave excavation reveals another skeleton

Excavations at the site of the Mannar mass grave revealed another skeleton today, reported the Uthayan . The latest discovery brings the total number of human remains found at the site in Thirukketheeswaram to 44. The mass grave was unearthed when construction workers found two human skeletons on December 20th when digging in Thirukketheeswaram. The following week, a further four skulls were unearthed , with more over subsequent weeks (see also here , here , here and here ). Last week the Bishop of Mannar, who has called for an international investigation into the mass grave due to the lack...

UNP to join Govt's team against resolution at UNHRC

The Sri Lankan government has decided to include two members of the opposition United National Party (UNP) in its delegation to travel to the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council sitting in Geneva, according to ColomboPage . The UNP MPs, Lakshman Kiriella and Thalatha Atukorale will join the delegation which will be lead by Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala de Silva and President Rajapaksa’s special envoy for human rights Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is also the Plantation Minister. Government sources said that the names were put forward by the UNP, after they...

Politician re-arrested for murder of British tourist

Sri Lankan politician Sampath Vidanapathirana has been re-arrested by police over the murder of British aid worker Khuram Shaikh, after he went into hiding two weeks ago. Vidanapathirana, who is the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, was found hiding in a house in Kotte, after an arrest warrant was issued following the suspect breaking his bail conditions. The suspect, who is reported to be a close associate of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was arrested alongside 5 others for the 2011 Christmas Day killing and rape of Shaikh’s Russian girlfriend, Victoria Alexandrovna. However...

3 more remains at Mannar mass grave

Three more human remains were found at the site of the Mannar mass grave today, as excavations continued, reported the Uthayan . The latest find brings the total number of remains found to 43. The mass grave was unearthed when construction workers found two human skeletons on December 20th when digging in Thirukketheeswaram. The following week, a further four skulls were unearthed , with more over subsequent weeks (see also here , here and here . Last week the Bishop of Mannar, who has called for an international investigation into the mass grave due to the lack of credibility associated with...

SL Navy arrests Indian fishermen

25 Indian fishermen have been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy earlier today, for allegedly poaching in its maritime territory. The men were arrested just north of Nedunthivu (Delft), an island off the coast of Jaffna. The navy’s spokesperson Kosala Warnakulasuriya said they would be handed over to the police at Kankesanturai harbour. Fifteen boats were also seized by the Sri Lankan Navy in December, whilst arresting over 200 fishermen. Some reports said that upto 300 were arrested, with almost two-thirds later released. 111 Tamil Nadu fishermen of the released protested in Trincomalee...

Families coerced into registering disappeared as dead

Families have been encouraged by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) to register their disappeared as dead, reports the Uthayan. Reports suggest that the TID have set up unpublicised events for families of the disappeared and offered monetary gains and food rations to incentivise families into registering their disappeared as dead. Families were also offered further concessions of loan facilities and housing facilities for cooperating with the TID. The Sri Lankan president’s son and Member of Parliament, Namal Rajapaska allegedly spoke at the events run by the TID. The TID efforts to...

‘Little progress on rights’ – HRW

Human Rights Watch has stated that “little progress” has been made towards accountability in Sri Lanka and called for an independent international investigation into war crimes abuses, in its 2014 World Report. Speaking on the launch of the report, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch stated , “The Sri Lankan government makes a lot of claims about pursuing accountability for wartime abuses, but the world is still waiting to see some results”. “It’s clearer than ever that an independent international investigation is needed to make genuine progress in providing justice for victims...

We do not need a truth and reconciliation commission

Writing in the Sunday Times LK, Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, argues "we do not need a truth and reconciliation commission". Full text of her opinion is reproduced below: We do not need a truth and reconciliation commission Despite Sri Lanka’s most disgraceful history with a plethora of demonstrably useless Commissions and Committees established by successive Presidents, it is a matter for considerable astonishment that the Rajapaksa Presidency’s near desperate proposal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the turn of this year, appears to have found support in some quarters of our society.

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