Sitsabaiesan ‘right to be concerned’ says NDP Leader

The head of the Canadian NDP Party has said MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan was “right to be concerned” after she reported facing political intimidation on a private visit to her place of birth, in the the North-East of Sri Lanka. Responding to accusations by Canada’s Sri Lankan High Commissioner that Sitsabaiesan had tried to embarrass Sri Lanka, NDP leader Tom Mulcair defended the Tamil Canadian MP, adding that Sri Lanka's "human rights record continues to cause significant concern around the world". Sitsabaiesan’s visit at the end of last year saw concern for her safety after media reports emerged...

Gotabhaya slams 'interfering' diplomats

The Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has accused the US Ambassador in the country, Michelle Sison, of interfering in domestic affairs and overstepping her mandate, after it emerged that the ambassador had met NPC Councillor Ananthi Sasitharan, along with Chief Minister Wigneswaran and TNA MP Sumanthiran. Rajapaksa said that foreigners would only make matters worse, so any solution to the problem would have to be found domestically. “Forming their opinions on the basis of one-sided discussions with the rump of the LTTE and other radicalised sections of the Tamil Diaspora,...

Ceylon Teachers' Union condemn increasing Army interference in Vanni schools

The Sri Lankan Army's interference in schools in Vanni has increased said the Ceylon Teachers' Union to the Education Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, reported the Uthayan . Demanding that action be taken to stop this, the CTU's General Secretary, Joseph Stalin, said that since the re-opening of schools in Vanni, the army's interference is directly disrupting the students' education. Drawing attention to incidents such as the Sri Lankan military hosting events in the school grounds whilst lessons are happening, Stalin said this must be stopped, and students must be able to learn without any interference.

Australian student raped by tourist guide in South

An Australian student in Sri Lanka was raped by a tourist guide in the Southern town of Ambalangoda, reports the Colombo Page . The student was part of a group of 15 taking part in an educational activity. In February 2012 a German tourist was raped in her hotel room in Matara district, following the rape of a Swedish tourist in Negombo the previous month. Two months before that a South African national was raped in a hotel room in Kalpitiya, whilst in December 2011, the Russian partner of the murdered Briton Khuram Sheikh, was sexually assaulted .

SL spends over US $100,000 a month lobbying the US

The Sri Lankan government spends US $ 66,000 a month hiring Thompson Advisory Group LLC (TAG), a US lobbying firm, reports the Sunday Times . The group are allegedly hired by the Sri Lankan government to create a political climate in the US conducive to enhancing Sri Lanka’s long-term political and economic aspirations as well as to create a platform where US decision makers receive clear and accurate information of Sri Lanka’s current achievements and future plans and create a higher volume of private sector investment in Sri Lanka. Reports also suggest that another lobbying firm, Majority...

Disappeared man found dead in Pannai sea

The body of a 30 year old Tamil man, who went missing earlier this week, was discovered by local fishermen in Pannai sea by Jaffna yesterday, reported the Uthayan . See Uthayan for more photographs The body was found at 7.30am on Friday morning, and has been identified as that of Kulasingham Arulmathan, a father and electrician. A relative of Mr. Arulmathan said that the victim had called him on January 22nd asking to be protected as a group of unknown people were chasing him. Mr. Arulmathan told the relative that he had received an anonymous phone call warning him that he was going to be...

Arrest warrants to be issued for almost 60,000 army deserters

The Sri Lankan government has announced that almost 60,000 deserters, who left the Sri Lankan Armed Forces after the armed conflict in 2009, are to have warrants issued for their arrest. Some 65,000 deserters were reported to be at large in July 2009 , just months after the brutal conflict had ended. In 2013, that number was said to have swelled to 71,458. Yet, 59,267 military personnel are still reported as deserters from the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development announced that though most of the deserters had left for personal reasons and that warrants...

Rs. 700 million awarded to soldiers having their third child

Over Rs. 700 million has been cashed out to soldiers from the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in the past year, in the form of grants for those who have their third child, stated the Ministry of Defence. The announcement was made in parliament as the government responded to questions on how to stop deserters from leaving the military. The Ministry responded that benefits for members of the armed forces had to be increased, including those allocated in the last budget , which awarded Rs.100,000 at the birth of the third child of any member of the security forces, and to those who are serving in the...

Minister seeks exemption from land sales regulations to foreigners

The Investment Promotion Minister, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, submitted a Cabinet memorandum this month, seeking to overrule current legislations that ban sales of private or crown Sri Lankan land to a foreign national or company. Arguing that the Finance minister has the power to overrule legislation, Abeywardene is looking to acquire legal exemption for 69 acres of land to allow a Singaporean Company to establish a private university and related infrastructure. The government's attempts to overrule the land legislation for specific companies come as diaspora Tamils continue to have their...

International legal experts reiterate need for accountability in Sri Lanka

Panelists at a discussion hosted by the American Society of International Law and American University Washington College of Law UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic hosted an event on accountability in Sri Lanka that criticised the on-going impunity, and stressed the need for justice and accountability. The event, which took place on January 22nd comprised of a panel, moderated by Jennifer Leonard , the Deputy Director and Washington Advocacy Director of International Crisis Group. Panelists included Juan Mendez , UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Yasmin Sooka, one of the experts appointed by the UN Secretary General to serve on the UN Panel of Experts, and Frances Harrison , former BBC foreign correspondent and author of 'Still Counting the Dead'. Highlighting the impunity for atrocities committed in 2008-09, and ongoing violations in Sri Lanka, Mendez spoke of a referral of Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and stated, " an ICC referral is probably the only way to break the cycle of impunity ."

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