Australia’s offshore asylum camps “unbearable” – Navi Pillay

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has slammed the state of Australian offshore asylum camps. Refugees arriving in Australia are now processed in camps in Nauru, where several detainees have conducted hunger strikes in protest at the conditions. Speaking to ABC Radio, Navi Pillay said the hunger strikes were an "indication of the unbearable conditions under which they're being held". She said she was “alarmed” about the strikes, adding that "it would be a blight on Australia's good human rights record if it doesn't respect the rights of asylum seekers". "I fear that this...

UN independent expert concerned over judicial intimidation

The UN's Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, condemned the increasing reports of intimidation and attacks on judges and judicial officers in Sri Lanka. In a news release, Knaul said : “I urge the Sri Lanka Government to take immediate and adequate measures to ensure the physical and mental integrity of members of the judiciary and to allow them to perform their professional duties without any restrictions, improper influences, pressures, threats or interferences, in line with the country’s international human rights obligations,” “ The irremovability of judges is one of the main pillars guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and only in exceptional circumstances may this principle be transgressed ,”

HRW criticises UN's 'deadly mistake'

Commenting on the Internal Review Panel on the UN's conduct in Sri Lanka in 2009, Human Rights Watch's UN director, Philippe Bolopion, said on Wednesday: “The UN internal review identifies the tragic mistakes that led the UN to fail in its most basic obligations to civilians in Sri Lanka,” “ The UN’s attempt to appease the Sri Lankan government while it was committing mass atrocities against its own population proved to be a deadly mistake ,” “The UN system can’t rewrite history and respond as it should have, but it at least owes Sri Lankan victims meaningful efforts to achieve justice.” “...

The UPR on: the Significance of Context, of Terror and lest we forget, the Tamil Question

J. Stafford is a member of TAG's advocacy team (Tamils Against Genocide) Nov 1-14. The UPR on: the Significance of Context, of Terror and lest we forget, the Tamil Question On Thursday 1 November, Sri Lanka stood to account before the Human Rights Council. Procedures, protocols reassuringly followed, the Sri Lankan delegation exuding calm professionalism, consummate politicians with seemingly measured, reasonable responses. They interjected occasionally, as is fitting, seen to be engaging with the recommendations. The lines they were following carefully articulated in their national report. And then, of course, on the 5th November, 100 of the recommendations were rejected - a record. But all this was anticipated. The chair at the side event on the 31 October, Nimalka Fernando - President of International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) made the point that the contents of the National Report were directly contrary to the knowledge and experiences of the side event panel . The Sri Lankan state approach was predictable. As Alan Keenan from ICG observed, that the Government chose to impeach the chief justice on the very day of the UPR speaks volumes to the state’s arrogance and level of contempt for international institutions. (See video of UPR here ) But it is a contempt masterly deployed, and, most disappointingly, one that garners support from diverse quarters. Sri Lanka attends the UPR and in so doing, in submitting to the procedures, the reports, the recommendations, the whole show, is able to firmly reinforce its message and self-representation. As a state it enjoys legitimacy at the UN. It is one among other states, part of a club.

Suspect implies Sri Lankan involvement in Parithi murder - le Parisien

Two men, both aged 33, were held in custody on Monday night in connection with the murder of French TCC leader Nadarajah Mathinthiran. The two suspects, both described as of ‘Sri Lankan’ nationality, were arrested on Sunday morning in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and La Chapelle. A source close to the case is reported to have said that searches of the suspects’ homes did not provide evidence for their involvement in the killing. Both suspects deny their involvement in the murder of Mathinthiran alias Parithi who was shot in the back with three 9mm bullets as he left TCC’s Paris office. According...

Leaked draft of internal report concludes failure of UN

A leaked draft of an UN internal report on Sri Lanka concludes that "events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN" , reports the BBC . The report, headed by former senior UN official Charles Petrie, points to a “systemic failure” and questions decisions such as the withdrawal of UN staff from the war zone in September 2008, after warning from the Sri Lankan government that it could no longer guarantee their safety. One member of the UN team that left, Benjamin Dix, claimed to have disagreed with the pull-out, saying: "I believe we should have gone further north, not evacuate south, and basically abandon the civilian population with no protection or witness. As a humanitarian worker, questions were running through my mind 'what is this all about? Isn't this what we signed up to do?'" The report says that the situation on the ground was “catastrophic” and points out that: "many senior UN staff did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility - and agency and department heads at UNHQ were not instructing them otherwise," going on to describe "a sustained and institutionalised reluctance" among UN personnel in Sri Lanka "to stand up for the rights of people they were mandated to assist".

Why is India silent? - TNA

The Tamil National Alliance's MP V. Saravanapavan, questioned the silence of India over increasing calls to abolish the 13th Amendment, reports the Daily Mirror and the Island. Speaking at the second reading of the budget, MP Saravanapavan is to have said , “The 13th Amendment was India’s baby and, therefore, it should play a role in convincing the Sri Lankan government not to repeal it,” He added , "Now the government is talking about abolishing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and several ministers, including Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawake, have launched a campaign in this...

Foreign Affairs Committee calls for CHOGM boycott from Britain

A British Foreign Affairs Committee report has criticised the Commonwealth’s decision to hold the next Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, and called on the British Prime Minister to boycott the meeting unless there were advances in human and political rights. The report, entitled “The role and future of the Commonwealth”, is due to be released on Thursday the 15th of November, but embargoed copies were made available earlier on Tuesday. The report states that the British Prime Minister David Cameron should refuse to attend the meeting, due to be held in Colombo, unless, he receives “...

Sri Lanka looks to Singapore for fuel supplies

The Sri Lankan government may consider purchasing fuel from Singapore in order to ensure that the country does not suffer any shortages, after sanctions on the island’s main crude oil supplier, Iran. Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha announced the government was considering the option, as well as increasing fuel purchases from Saudi Arabia and Oman. The Minister also announced that “technical adjustments” may have to be made to the country’s sole oil refinery, which can only process Iranian crude oil. The refinery has now had to shut down due to a lack of Iranian crude...

Eyes On The Ground

A call by ITN Productions for graduate film students to create an original short film based on the production company's original documentary - Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, has produced a striking result. See the video below : Cristina Picchi, a 30 year old filmmaker in London, has created a moving short film, that captures the responses of five people as they watch Sri Lanka's Killing Fields. Speaking to Channel 4 news, Picchi said , "When asked to edit a video using the film's footage I felt overwhelmed: everything seemed so important yet, when de-contextuali sed from the original narrative, so horrific and unnecessarily graphic. I then decided to take a different approach.