Gota visits Indian counterpart

The Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, met with the Indian Defence minister AK Anthony, after being invited to India by the country's National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon. According to the Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, the pair discusses military relations, and agreed that joint military training would continue away from the southern states.

US coast guard trains SL coast guard in Trinco

The US Coast Guard conducted training exercises for the Sri Lankan Coast Guard in Trincomalee recently, reports Colombo Page. The training initiative, said to strengthen maritime security, was part of the Export Control and Related Border Security Program. Addressing the closing ceremony the US ambassador to Colombo, Michele J Sison, said, "It draws on expertise from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Commerce, Energy, and Defence in order to provide a range of legal, licensing, and enforcement training and equipment for countries around the globe. We are pleased to be conducting...

Sri Lanka looks to India and China to address troubled economy

Sri Lanka’s Minister for Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen, said the country is taking measures to minimise the impact of the global financial crisis and will look towards India and China to increase their export market, reported ColomboPage . The country’s exports to its traditional markets in the West have been declining recently and the minister said the government would take efforts to open Asian markets for their products. "We are not going to remain passive at a time when our export markets around the world turn more challenging due to the decline in leading segments and the...

How meaningful is Sri Lanka's UPR?

As the 14th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session gets under way at the UN Human Rights Council this week, the spotlight will once again fall on Sri Lanka and its human rights record - but just how meaningful a process will it be? Last time Sri Lanka faced a review at the Council was in 2008, when Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had been elected on a tidal wave of popular Sinhala support for a renewed war effort, was intensifying his military offensive against the LTTE. Whilst the reports of paramilitaries, torture, abductions, killings, and the targeting of human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers were acknowledged in the recommendations, the scale of human rights abuses, war crimes and genocide that Sri Lanka unleashed less than a year later, made a mockery of the entire process. Re-visiting the 2008 recommendations, in light of what has happened and continues to take place, should be a sobering read to any within the UPR Working Group.

Minister laments Iran sanctions’ impact

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella, said the government will discuss the effects of sanctions on Iran with the US government, reported the Sunday Times . The Sapugaskanda oil refinery is due to close on Friday, as the supply of Iranian crude runs out. The minister said the US sanctions on Iran caused complications for Sri Lanka and alternate sources like Oman and Saudi Arabia are being looked in to.

13A saga continues

Just after the defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa warned the 13th Amendment in the constitution was a "time bomb", the Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella, told the media that the government had not decided about the 13th Amendment, and that the President had reiterated the government's intention to implement the 13th plus. Rambukwella said, "by the reference of 'Plus' it is envisaged to converge all minority groups in the provinces in a Senate." Responding to questions about the recent calls to abolish the amendment, the Colombo Page quoted the minister as saying...

Mahinda warns internet users of ‘terrorist sympathisers’

Addressing the Sri Lankan community in Dubai this week, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned internet users that groups who sympathises with terrorists were attempting to “paint a wrong picture” of the country. The Ministry of Defence reported Rajapaksa as saying, “The President pointed out that certain groups sympathizing with terrorists are trying to paint a wrong picture about Sri Lanka through the Internet and stressed that people using the Internet facilities should beware of such machinations.” See the other steps that the President has taken to safeguard internet users below...

Visitors to Sri Lanka up by 18% in September

Arrivals to Sri Lanka have increased by 18.1% in September, compared to the same month last year, according to the tourist promotion office. Figures for the first 9 months have increased by 16%, to 693,772, compared to the previous year, reported LBO . Visitors from Western Europe were behind most of the increase, with German visitors increasing by 46% and the so far disappointing British market showing an increase of 9.1%, compared to last September. However, arrivals from Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour India, only increased by 4.2% compared to last September, with figures since January, only...

Australia deports Tamil asylum seekers

A day after a UK High Court halted the deportation of a number of Tamil asylum seekers over fears of torture on return, a Tamil asylum seeker in Australia was issued with a deportation notice. The Tamil male, held in Melbourne, was told that he will be deported on 31st October. The notice states he will be liable for the cost of the deportation and will be invoiced before the set deportation. In July, Dayan Anthony, was deported to Sri Lanka by Australian immigration authorities, despite a last minute appeal to the UN.

KP does not represent the Tamils - Sampanthan

TNA’s leader R. Sampanthan has expressed surprise and confusion at the Sri Lankan government’s decision to use KP alias Kumaran Pathmanathan to facilitate talks with the Tamil Diaspora. Extracts from Sampanthan’s statement, translated from Uthayan : “I am waiting for a signal from the government to begin talks for a permanent resolution to the national issue. I was surprised on learning that the government plans to undertake talks with the Diaspora, facilitated by Kumaran Pathmanathan, former arms procurer of the LTTE. He is not a representative of the Tamil people.” “We are prepared to come...