'Human rights should always trump short-term, partisan political interests'

Writing in The Australian, the executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre Phil Lynch states that Australia must do more to protect asylum seekers and re-evaluate its relationship with Sri Lanka. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . "It is well documented that the Sri Lankan government was responsible for mass human rights violations towards the end of the civil war in 2009. The Australian government has not done enough, either at the international level or through our bilateral relations, to ensure that these crimes are independently investigated and that perpetrators are held to account." "Serious human rights violations did not end in Sri Lanka with the cessation of the civil war. Arbitrary arrest, detention and even torture remain systematic and widespread, particularly against the Tamil minority." "In recent months, evidence has emerged that asylum-seekers returned to Sri Lanka are at particular risk of rights violations. Human Rights Watch has documented at least eight cases in which people who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Britain were returned to Sri Lanka and endured serious abuses, including torture and rape. There have been similar claims by Tamil asylum-seekers returned by Australia. This corroborates a May 2010 report by the Edmund Rice Centre that claimed asylum-seekers returned to Sri Lanka were detained and assaulted by Sri Lankan police." "Despite this, Australia works closely with Sri Lanka - including through financial assistance and intelligence co-operation - in preventing people from fleeing the country. The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration receives Australian aid, and Australia's last federal budget included almost $11 million to deploy Australian police officers to Sri Lanka and elsewhere to "combat people-smuggling"." "At best, this undermines the spirit of the Refugee Convention, which gives people the right to flee persecution and seek protection. At worst, it involves Australia, at least indirectly, in exposing people to torture and other serious human rights violations. It is time for Australia to recalibrate its relationship with Sri Lanka to put human rights at the core."

Sri Lanka denies Indian oil deal

Sri Lanka's Petroleum Industries Ministry has denied recent reports in the Indian press of a deal with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), reports Jagran Post. The ministry reportedly said, 'no negotiations or talks with IOC or any other foreign party had taken place' regarding the construction of a second refinery by the Sapugaskanda refinery in a north Colombo suburb.

IMF urges SL to trade with India-China

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Sri Lanka to focus on trading with India and China in order to improve its poor exports and economic growth. The IMF's representative for sri Lanka and Maldives, Koshy Mathai, said , "We are not going to have economic success if we continue having exports declining relative to the size of economy. It is only with export growth, that the Sri Lankan economy is going to go forward," "Failing to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the economic growth by those areas [in China and India] today would be ashamed, would definitely be giving...

Italian Tamil organisations call for referendum on Tamil Eelam

The Italian Tamil youth organisation, Giovani Tamil and the Italian Council of Eelam Tamils held a conference entitled "Tamil, the identity denied", with human rights organisation, academics and politicians in attendance, at the historic town hall of Palermo. A resolution, calling for a “plebiscite among the people of North and East descent in the island of Sri Lanka, in the diaspora and among the refugees in India and elsewhere, to decide on the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam”, was passed by the organisations. Several academics form the University of Palermo spoke at the event.

Asylum seekers continue to attempt to flee as Navy arrests over 100

In yet another case this month, more than 100 people who attempted to flee Sri Lanka were arrested by the Navy, as asylum seekers remain undeterred in their efforts to escape from the island. The Sri Lankan Navy confirmed the arrest of 103 people on Monday, intercepting 2 fishing trawlers just off Negombo and a further trawler off Trincomalee. All those arrested were male and included residents from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Trincomalee. The latest incident brings the total number of those arrested as they attempt to flee the country to 633 in this month alone, according to reports . See...

Sri Lanka has largest Olympic delegation - UNP

The main opposition UNP has criticised the number of Sri Lankan delegates who are attending the Olympic Games in London. According to The Island, the UNP said that, Sri Lanka has the highest number of Olympic officials compared to the number of athletes. Only seven athletes were representing the country, but thirty officials had accompanied them, UNP Media Spokesman Gayantha Karunathillaka MP, told a news conference in Colombo. He accused the officials of following the example set by President Rajapakse and his MPs, who frequently travel on tax payers money. Read more here .

Tamil diaspora organisations call for referendum on Tamil Eelam

A total of 11 Tamil diaspora organisations from different countries have vowed to continue to uphold the right for Tamil sovereignty, whilst calling for a referendum on Tamil Eelam among Eelam Tamils, monitored by international observers, TamilNet reported on Tuesday. The organisations committed to form working teams that would deal with specific human rights issues, which include the release go Tamil prisoners of war, political advocacy, land grabs, sinhalisation and militarisation in the Tamil homeland and the social, political and economic empowerment of Eelam Tamils in their homeland. In...

Over 50% implemented says Rajapaksa

After bemoaning the lack of time and space earlier this year in Geneva, the government of Sri Lanka has been working overtime it seems. During Mahinda Rajapaksa's monthly sermon with the island's newspaper editors, the president proclaimed that over 50% of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had been implemented. This has nothing to do with the resolution adopted by the UNHRC earlier this year he insisted. Preempting the inevitable queries regarding what exactly the Sri Lankan government means by 'implementation' given the on-going...

Inflation at 42-month high in July

The annual inflation rate could be upto to a 42-month high in July according to a Reuters poll 13 analysts. It is expected to have risen to at least 9.4 % in July, the highest point since January 2009. The IMF has predicted an increase to 9.5% this year. Since November last year, the rupee has depreciated approximately 16%.

Indian company to build oil refinery in SL

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is planning to set up an oil refinery in Sri Lanka, with an investment worth $3.6 billion. A senior official told the Business Standard that the government will supply the company with the land. “We have done the analysis and have first-hand information on the kind of refinery we plan to set up in Sri Lanka. We are in discussions with the Sri Lankan government for tax concessions, a holiday for customs and excise, and other benefits that a refinery should accrue to us. The land will come from the Sri Lankan government,” said the official. Currently Sri Lanka’s ony...