Takers, keepers

“When asked why can't [Tamil] refugees go back to the villages that they originally came from, the government said that it is not possible because those areas are now special economic development areas , uncleared minefields or on land the military wants to keep .” - ANI news agency. See the report here .

Lies and landlords

While Channel 4’s investigative documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is yet to be shown at the UN despite numerous requests, the Sri Lankan Government’s counter-documentary was granted permission to be screened earlier this month. The decision to air the documentary “Lies Agreed Upon” (and not Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields ) was made by the UN Correspondent’s Association President, Giampaolo Pioli, who also covered the event. It has now been revealed that he was Sri Lanka’s representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona’s former landlord. “But undisclosed at the time was that Pioli collected money...

Tamil lawyers protest against police impunity

Tamil lawyers in Jaffna reportedly boycotted the Court of Law, on Thursday, in protest against the arrest and brutal assault of a Tamil civilian by the Sri Lankan police. Describing the conduct of the seven policemen involved as an "affront to the authority, dignity and the sanctity of the Courts of Law", they added that such conduct " constitutes a brazen and blatant violation of all norms of behaviour that are expected of the guardians of the law ."

India shields Devananda from arrest

India's External Affairs Ministry reportedly informed the Madras High Court that Douglas Devananda, as a cabinet minister of Sri Lanka, could not be arrested as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, warning that any attempt to arrest Devananda would sour relations between Sri Lanka and India. Devanda, leader of the pro-government paramilitary group-cum-political party, EPDP, is wanted in a 1986 shootout and murder case in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was also been accused of kidnapping a boy in 1988. In 1989, he was arrested and later let out on bail. Under Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Kaghal Matha Praphullachandra Sharma, also stated that India did not have an extradition treaty with Sri Lanka. However, according to a report in the The Hindu, under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Extradition Act, there was an extradition arrangement between the governments with effect from September 1, 1978. Leaked US embassy cables, sent in June 2009 , describe Devananda to have a " violent and even criminal history ", showing " few signs of reforming ".

Australian campaign for Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth suspension

A group of Australian academics, politicians and human rights campaigners is calling for Sri Lanka's suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth until the government agrees to cooperate with an international investigation into war crimes. “ Commonwealth nations have to take [their institution] seriously or otherwise it just becomes another gentleman's club where everyone slaps everyone on the back and says nice things. “The Commonwealth is an important means of assisting the less wealthy and less powerful members of the Commonwealth, but unless they start dealing with serious breaches of...

'JVP suffers major split' - The Island

The Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has suffered a major split and a new party has been formed according to reports in The Island . The dissidents led by Dimuthu Atygala, Pugbudu Jagoda and Waruna Rajapakse are said to have walked out a Committee meeting on Monday after announcing the breakaway. The breakaway faction, who claim to have the support of more than half of the JVP’s 24-member committee, are expected to register a new political party soon. However, JVP leader Somawanse Amarasinghe downplayed talks of a crisis at the party. “The JVP is functioning like before and there is no crisis...

Mahinda Economics

Sri Lanka’s trade, currency and debt quandary The International Monetary Fund suspended its programme of supplying Colombo with credit in exchange for reform on Monday after Sri Lanka refused to follow advice and abandon a policy of actively intervening in foreign exchange markets to support the value of the Rupee. Earlier this month Brian Aitken, the IMF’s head of mission in Colombo, warned that Sri Lanka’s policy of selling dollars to maintain the value of the rupee “does not seem to be in line with the fundamentals in the economy”’ and that the policy was rapidly depleting foreign currency reserves. He pointed out that Colombo’s “non-borrowed reserves.. have steadily declined, reflecting foreign exchange sales by the central bank.”

British High Commissioner questions 'peace'

Speaking at an event held to mark International Day of Peace , John Rankin, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, stressed that the absence of war does not necessarily equate to peace and that peace "means different things to different people. "On Peace Day, I think it is important to reflect both on the importance of peace and the challenges to achieving it. The absence of war does not automatically mean that peace has been achieved ." " Peace means different things to different people ." "But I am sure we can all agree that the inclusivity, trust and respect are essential to creating...

Human Rights Groups urge Navi Pillai to fulfil responsibilities of UN Human Rights Council

Sixteen Human Rights organisations, including Amnesty International, FORUM-ASIA, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and International Commission of Jurists undersigned a letter addressed to the High Commissioner of the Human Rights Council, Navi Pillai, appealing for “...your leadership in enabling the Council to fulfill its responsibilities towards ensuring accountability for the alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.” The groups also requested the High Commissioner to...

Sri Lanka calls on US Senate to approve GSP

Sri Lanka’s ambassador has urged the US to pass the GSP programme in a joint letter sent to the Senate on Monday. Sri Lanka was joined by the 9 other members of the Coalition of Generalized System of Preferences in advocating for the renewal of the GSP program, which will be discussed in the Senate later this week. The letter details the adverse effect the suspension of the program has had on the members’ respective economies. Sri Lanka is said to have lost top supplier positions to China, with US imports of construction vehicle tires dropping by 28.5%, although imports from China increased...