Sri Lankan president signs executions of 4 convicts

Despite international criticism, the Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena today signed papers authorising the executions of four convicts. The convicts were sentences over drug related offences. Speaking to the media, the president said, "I have already signed the papers and they will be carried out soon.” Responding to the decision, Amnesty International said it was "shocked" and "outraged". “We are outraged that the President has signed the first execution warrants issued by Sri Lanka in 43 years. In one stroke, he will undo all the country’s progress in putting a stop to the use of...

Human rights commission investigates navy and police harassment of Mullaitivu journalist

The Sri Lankan human rights commission (HRCSL) is investigating the harassment of a Tamil journalist by the Sri Lankan navy and police. Mullaitivu-based journalist Shanmugam Thavaseelan along with families of the disappeared made a complaint to the commission’s Vavuniya office after being harassed by a navy officer during a protest on April 7. The navy officer had then filed a police complaint claiming to have been assaulted by Thavaseelan, following which the journalist was arrested and taken before the courts. The journalist told the human rights commission that he was being harassed by the...

Tamil political prisoner dies

A Tamil political prisoner, who was detained for the past 14 years, died last week. Muthaiya Sahathevan, 61, was arrested in 2005, accused of being involved in the assassination of the former Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. He died following an admission to Colombo National Hospital for health reasons.

UK calls for 'inclusive response' to Easter Sunday bombings

Welcoming the UN High Commissioner's report, the United Kingdom called on Sri Lanka to ensure an "inclusive response" to the Easter Sunday bombings which included respect for religious freedoms.

Canada calls for international investigation into Tamil genocide

Canada’s parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on the United Nations to establish an international and independent investigation into the allegations of genocide committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

President Sirisena calls for a repeal of the 19th amendment

President Sirisena has called for the repealing the 19th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution to ensure political stability despite the amendments forming a central component of his 2015 manifesto. Sirisena claims that the 19th amendment was introduced because the 18th amendment had overexpanded the powers of the presidency and become monarchical. However, he has since described the amendment as the biggest mistake the government has made. He has that if Sri Lanka repealed both the 18th and 19th amendment this would be a good thing. On Sunday Sirisena blamed the 19th amendment for...

Facebook limits message sharing in Sri Lanka over hate speech

The social media platform, Facebook is to limit message sharing in Sri Lanka in an effort to curb hate speech. Artificial intelligence (AI) will also be used to identify posts in Sinhalese which are inflammatory, Facebook said. "We’re making fundamental changes to our products to address virality and reduce the spread of content that can amplify and exacerbate violence and conflict," Product Management, Civic Integrity Director Samidh Chakrabarti and Strategic Response Director Rosa Birch said in a statement. "In Sri Lanka, we have explored adding friction to message forwarding so that people...

Sri Lanka's army commander says working with India on intelligence

Sri Lanka's army commander confirmed they were working with Indian counterparts on intelligence following the Easter Sunday bombings by Islamist extremists supportive of Islamic State.

Gotabhaya to be SLPP presidential candidate - Basil

The former Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa will be the presidential candidate for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Basil Rajapaksa told a meeting of party parliamentarians this week.

Sirisena reopens historic Mullaitivu tank for Sinhalese settlers

A tank which formerly served Tamil agricultural villages in Manalaru was reopened by the Sri Lankan president for Sinhalese settlers earlier this month. The historic Amaiyan Kulam tank borders the Trincomalee district and falls within the large scale Sinhalised region of Manalaru, renamed by the Sri Lankan government as Weli Oya. The original Tamil inhabitants of the region were evicted in 1984 by Sinhalese paramilitaries. The tank, refurbished and renamed in Sinhala as Kiri Ippan Wewa, was opened by Sri Lankan president Sirisena during his tour of the North on June 8. “Sirisena says he is...