IMF expresses concern over hounding out of SEC chief

The International Monetary Fund has expressed concern over the resignation of the head of Sri Lanka's Securities and Exchange Commission, after stock market players he was investigating complained to Mahinda Rajapakse. Thilak Karuneratne stepped down after powerful traders sabotaged probes into corrupt practices. "It is sad to see the SEC lose yet another strong chairperson, and in such a short period too," Koshy Mathai, Sri Lanka's IMF resident representative, told Reuters in response to an e-mail query on the resignation of Karunaratne. "From all credible accounts, Karunaratne and his team...

GSP + ‘A closed chapter’

The European Union representative in Sri Lanka has stated that aid to the country was “unlikely” to increase and trade concessions revoked from the country will not be reinstated, urging the country to “move on” from the issue. Bernard Savage, Head of the Delegation of the EU in Sri Lanka stated that, “We have had no request from the government for a new facility.” “To use the words of the Minister of External Affairs (GL Peiris) this is a closed chapter (in our relationship). The fact is that GSP+ was withdrawn and there has been no further discussion on that issue and Sri Lanka has not re-applied. We need to move on. ” The statement comes as the withdrawal of the concessions from 2010 begins to take hold, with garment exports to the EU falling 10-15% this year, and further falls predicted.

Jaya and Karunanidhi condemn fishermen attacks

Following yet another attack on 8 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and DMK president M Karunanidhi have both released statements condemning the attack and calling on the Indian government to do more to halt the assaults. Writing in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa stated , "I am distressed to once again have to point out that the incidents of harassment of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy simply continue unabated " "The Sri Lankan Navy, emboldened by the soft handling of the issue by the Government of India , is attacking/harassing the fishermen of Tamil Nadu with impunity. The statements at diplomatic level meetings of the two countries stating that "the use of force on fishermen cannot be justified by any means" remain only on paper and are honoured more in the breach by the Sri Lankan Navy, who seem to be making a mockery of the entire diplomatic process "

The King has spoken

The Commissioner of Elections has expressed his pleasure at President Mahinda Rajapksa’s recent intervention that election laws must be abided by and cannot be violated. Speaking to Ceylon Today , the Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya stated, “I am glad the President himself has got involved in handling the election law violations and instructed the police to take tough action and this will make things easy for us”. Perhaps now the misuse of state property and resources for campaign propaganda, described as “rampant” in some districts, and election related violence can finally be held to...

Undeterred and still looking to escape

Despite an increasing number of arrests by the Sri Lankan Navy, asylum seekers remain undeterred in their attempts to flee the island, reported AFP. Tamil asylum seekers from Udappuwa who were recently arrested, told AFP, " We will try to go again after the case is over. We just have to wait for some time." Another said, “ The future here is very bleak. We want to get out of poverty," Local community leader Quintus Fernando also stated that continued fishing restrictions by the navy had forced many residents to seek greener pastures elsewhere. he commented, "It is three years after the end of...

8 more fishermen attacked by SL Navy

Eight Tamil Nadu fishermen from Vellapalam, were found by Vedaranyam on Sunday, with internal injuries, allegedly as a result of an attack by the Sri Lankan Navy, reported The Hindu. One fishermen had a knife wound, whilst others alleged to have been attacked with pipes and ropes, and their nets slashed. The men are admitted to Vedaranyam hospital. The fishermen who left the coast of Vellapalam on Saturday morning, deny crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line. However, according to The Hindu, a GPS reading places them 38 nautical miles south-east off Arcottuthurai - inside Sri Lanka...

SL minister can't understand UK FCO travel update

Sri Lanka announced that it would be contesting the British Foreign Commonwealth Office's updated travel advice , warning Britons of an upsurge in nationalism, sexual offences and anti-western rhetoric. With the burning of Union Jacks and the barracading of UN offices all but a distant memory, the Secretary of External Affairs Ministry Karunathilaka Amunugama was shocked by the updated advice. Taking it with the "utmost seriousness" particularly due to the tone and timing, Amunugama said that he would like to know exactly how the UK came to this conclusion and had assigned the High...

More than two years gone... Still 49,000 to go

An Indian housing project for Tamil IDPs has been declared 'on track', despite only 1,000 of the much vaunted 50,000 houses having been constructed, since the scheme was announced more than two years ago. Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka hailed the completion of the first 1,000 houses earlier this week, despite the houses having been formally handed over to Tamil IDPs some 8 months ago . The pledge to construct 50,000 houses was made in June 2010, as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh toured the island. Since then only 2% of the promised houses have been built. Two...

Tamil Nadu fishermen attacked by SL navy in Indian waters

The Tamil Nadu government asserted that there had been 167 attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy from 1991 - 2011, and those included attacks within Indian territorial waters. The attacks had resulted in the deaths of 65 Tamil Nadu fishermen, with 180 injured. See here and here . The state government's Advocate General Navaneethakrishnan made the submission before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court which included Justice PPS Janarthana Raja and Justice M Vijayaraghavan on Friday. According to The Hindu , the Centre's advocate, Additional Solicitor General M Ravindran, argued that there was 'no chance of the Sri Lankan Navy having entered the Indian waters as such movement by the warships would amount to waging a war.'

Navi Pillay urges Australia to rethink asylum policy

Commenting on the recently released report by a panel commissioned by the Australian government, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged Australia to rethink its asylum policy, and " break an ingrained political habit of demonising migrants and asylum-seeker s". The panel's report, which recommended that off-shore detention be employed as it would disuade potentional asylum seekers, has received condemnation and criticism by rights groups Amnesty International and TAG (Tamils Against Genocide). Pointing out that there was " no empirical evidence that immigration detention deters irregular migration, or discourages people from seeking asylum ", Pillay said that UN Human Rights Office had " long-standing concerns about Australia's mandatory detention regime ", and reiterated that immigration detention " should always be applied as a measure of last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and only when no less restrictive measure is available ."