Trade deficit widens

Sri Lanka's trade deficit for April widened by 2.6 percent year-on-year to $761 million, reported the Reuters news agency. The export of tea fell 9.3 percent in April, after a record fall in January - April of 11.7 percent. The export of textiles and garments was also reported to have dropped, 2.2 percent in April. See here .

Sison statement “in complete accordance” with US policy

The US Embassy in Colombo has released a statement endorsing US Ambassador-designate Michele Sison’s earlier speech , which called for greater action on Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The statement released by the US Embassy said , “Her statement reiterated long-standing U.S. policy toward Sri Lanka, including calls for further demilitarization of the north, provincial council elections in the north, and mechanisms to deal with outstanding human rights issues. Ambassador-designate Sison’s testimony is in complete accordance with U.S policy as well as previous statements by U.S. officials...

Tamil asylum seekers are ‘paid’ to make perilous journeys – Admiral Samarasinghe

The Sri Lankan envoy to Australia and New Zealand has claimed that Tamil refugees, fleeing the island, are ‘paid’ by smugglers to make the dangerous journey across the Indian Ocean. In a radio interview by Ashley Hall on the AM program on ABC radio , Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka has evidence that these payments have been made. Extracts from the interview: ASHLEY HALL: Who are the people on board these boats? Who's trying to leave Sri Lanka? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: Oh they were a mix of people who were persuaded to come over by various organisations who were trying to get them out of Sri Lanka for whatever the reasons that they have. There were economic concerns and they have been paid... ASHLEY HALL: They have been paid? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: Yeah, in the sense they have not paid for the moment and we do not know the exact arrangements, and I would prefer to keep this information with ourselves or with the investigators because they are continuing to stop and that has resulted in the 113 people being stopped before they boarded a vessel. ASHLEY HALL: But you have evidence that people were paid to get on a vessel and travel to Australia and seek asylum? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: They have evidence. They have not paid, the racketeers, these human smugglers, these international racket band, they do this for various reasons - for money, for…

Guardian regrets promotional Sri Lanka supplement

Writing in The Guardian's Comment is Free section, the newspaper's readers' editor, Chris Elliott, expressed regret over the paper's decision last week to include a 24-page promotional Sri Lanka supplement in the same issue as the newspaper's reporting of on-going torture of deportees. Elliott wrote: "Although the disclaimer on the supplement says the Guardian is not responsible for the content, the act of distribution by the newspaper lends a perception of endorsement – probably more so than a normal advert would – and the opportunity this affords to governments is not one we should provide...

SL sportsmen face ban if they refuse to play

The Sri Lankan Sports Minister has announced that he is considering introducing a law that will ban sportsmen who refuse to represent the country in international sports. Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told reporters , "We are having issues mostly in cricket and rugby where national team players often refuse to represent the country when the national team has a scheduled tour and at times opt to play for some other event. So we are now looking at bringing in amendments to the sports law to allow sporting bodies to temporarily ban such players". His statement comes after several...

US grants Sri Lanka exemption from Iran sanctions

The US has granted seven further countries, including Sri Lanka, exemptions from sanctions for importing Iranian oil. South Africa, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Turkey were given a waiver from meeting a US deadline, which is looming at the end of this month, to reduce imports from Iran. Countries, which haven’t been granted an exemption and fail to reduce imports, will be cut off from the US financial system. Japan and 10 EU states were granted exemptions from the sanctions, imposed by Congress in December last year, in March. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in a...

Rajapaksa’s London visit causes a stir in Sri Lanka

As international pressure continues to mount on the Sri Lankan government over allegations of war crimes, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris has praised the recent trip to London by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, stating many useful meetings were held. Speaking in an interview with the state-run Daily News, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris said , “Sri Lanka could be pleased with the way things are turning out with regard to the conduct of its international relations.” He went on to say that Rajapaksa held a series of “useful” meetings with key officials including British...

Eastern Uni students protest against paramilitary backed appointment

Students at the Eastern University boycotted lessons for the third day on Saturday, protesting against the appointment of a paramilitary backed appointment of Dr Jaffer to the university's governing council, reports TamilNet. Dr Jaffer, the director of the Kalmunai Base hospital is reported to be backed by the paramilitary leader come Sri Lankan deputy minister, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (Karuna). TamilNet reports that the Vice Chancellor of the Eastern University, Professor K. Gobinarajah, said the university was 'helpless to political appointments made to its governing council by Colombo...

Sri Lanka warns US ambassador designate Sison

The Sri Lankan government cautioned the US ambassador designate, Michele Sison, over her recent statements on Sri Lanka's human rights record . The Sri Lankan secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, Karunatilaka Amunugama, said that although they were not currently taking any action... “ If she is appointed as ambassador to Sri Lanka, and she continues to make such preconceived comments then the government will look at taking further action .” He added, “ I am confident that the ideas expressed by the ambassador designate and the US government are two different ideas .”

Tamil Nadu police accused of allowing Tamil refugees to escape camps

A senior official of India's Intelligence Bureau has accused Tamil Nadu police officers of turning a blind eye to Tamil refugees leaving refugee camps and moving to Kerala. The official is quoted as saying, "The Tamil Nadu police are turning a blind eye on Lankan Tamils moving from refugee camps to Kerala. It's not possible for refugees in such large numbers to avoid detection of the police. We strongly believe that the Tamil Nadu police are discreetly allowing refugees to come to Kerala," "We have communicated the matter to the Tamil Nadu police as we cannot believe that the refugees have...

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