Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

President’s UN Speech


by Laksiri Fernando

( September 28, 2016, Seydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) There were several merits in the President’s speech to the 71st UN General Assembly sessions on the 22nd September, highlighting the enormous development challenges that the country is facing and outlining the initiatives that the government is taking and/or intends to take. What seems to have escaped the attention of the critics or observers is his emphasis on social democratic policies, whatever he meant. This is the first time that such an emphasis was made, although briefly, on Social Democracy, as far as I am aware. Among the challenges facing the country, a particular attention was placed on the drug menace engulfing the youth world over, and highlighting the joint actions that should be taken by the UN and the member countries.

A major portion of the speech also was focused on the war the country had to undergo and to assure the international community, or the local people through the speech, that terrorism was abhorrent and measures would be taken to prevent another war erupting. However, there were weaknesses as well in the speech, and thus the criticisms. These criticisms could be anticipated as the speech ought to be on behalf of the ‘people and the country,’ and the assurances have to be realistic. Let me add my own reflections or ‘my two cents’ to the chorus. I am here focusing only on two aspects: (1) the way the speech was narrated particularly in the English transcript and (2) the emphasis made on Theravada Buddhism in the country. It should be added that it is the English version which matters to the outside world.

Self-Centred Nature

To put it bluntly, the narrative of the speech appears quite self-centred, or rather authoritarian, using the first person singular expression of ‘I’ 21 times in a text of around 950 words, as published by the President’s media unit (now available in the UN website). A statement such as the following on ‘poverty alleviation’ is quite odd from a democratic country and a democratic president.

“I am determined to alleviate poverty in my country. I declared 2017 as the Year of ‘Alleviation of Poverty’ in Sri Lanka. I have given lead to creating the basic platform for the people to free themselves [from] poverty in a county that prioritizes economic progress.”

It is not clear whether the mistake is with the President or with the speech writers. Most probably with the latter. The text appears some ‘notes’ for a speech and not exactly the transcript of the speech that the President delivered. In that case, it is not clear why the President’s media unit published it as the speech? In an initial posting, there was a single strange sentence saying “I have been in power for the last 15 months.” This was later corrected. It was not only a mistake of the period in office; but a declaration such as ‘I have been in power’ is apparently odd in a democratic country.

The transcript gives the impression that the President was talking as a dictator or an authoritarian person. I believe (and hope) it is not the case. Even when you go to the original speech, I believe there is much the President could have improved to reflect a democratic culture or aspirations. If he has said “mage rajaya nilayata (not balayata) pathweemata pera” then it could have been translated as ‘before my government came to office’ and not ‘to power.’ The obsession with ‘power’ has to change for the sake of democracy. This has to change not merely in words, but in deeds. Even the first sentence of the transcript was misleading. He actually said “I am extremely happy to take part in this 71st Session of the United Nations general Assembly as the President of Sri Lanka.” However, in the transcript, there is no qualification ‘as the President of Sri Lanka.’ At the General Assembly, a President should represent the people and the country, and not himself or herself.

A Comparison

It is not unusual for a statesman or a stateswoman to, at times, present his/her case in the first person singular at the UN. But this should be rare and valuable. Most of the time, it is plural, even if it is first person (we or ours). For example, in the British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s speech, there were only two occasions in over a 2,000 word speech where she referred to her beliefs or initiatives. First, when she was referring to the problems of migration and referred to three fundamental principles that she believes in. Second occasion was when she referred to the first ever government task force that she has initiated in combating modern form of slavery or ‘super exploitation.’ The latter was very much similar to what the President Maithripala Sirisena talked about as the ‘Year of Poverty Alleviation.’ Yet it is only once she mentioned ‘I’ and then reverting back to her usual ‘we.’

If I may make another comparison, in the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s 575 word speech there was no ‘I’ at all. He was always talking objectively about the challenges his country and the world were facing and referred to ‘we’ in respect of Australia, or ‘ours’ in respect of Australian policies and initiatives.

One may argue that this is a difference between a presidential system and a cabinet government, where collective responsibility or collective wisdom prevails in the latter case. This may be partially true but not totally. Even in the speech of the US President, Barack Obama, only occasionally that he said ‘and so I believe’ or ‘I say all this’ and so on. Most of the speech was objective and largely in the plural. Even the President of Uganda, Kaguta Museveni, did not use the ‘I’ except at the beginning congratulating the election of the new President of the General Assembly, H. E. Peter Thomson. Nor did the President of Brazil, whose speech, President Sirisena referred to in his submission in relation to the ‘drug menace’ except to say, “I bring to the United Nations, in sum, a message of uncompromising commitment with democracy.” This was after outlining Brazil’s commitment to Paris Agreement on climate change, free trade arrangements promoted by the WTO, and most importantly, human rights etc. There was no reference to human rights in our President’s speech at all.

Reference to Buddhism

Most controversial might be the President’s reference to ‘Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country’ at the UN speech. When the transcript was first issued by the President’s media unit (reproduced in the Colombo Telegraph), the wording appeared more controversial than what appeared later or now. Therefore, there was understandable disappointment or criticism. One reason was that the reference to Buddhism was given out of context, in two paragraphs, referring first to ‘war and terrorism’ in the country. It was not the reference to war or terrorism that was wrong, but the reference to Buddhism in that context, devaluing its universal value philosophically at a fora like the UN.

Then in the second paragraph, it was bluntly transcribed that “Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced.” This appeared like a sectarian proclamation instead of emphasizing Buddhism’s philosophical or scientific value. This is still the case in the English version posted in the UN website. However, the original speech in Sinhala now posted in the same website gives a more balanced view which probably was the intention of the President. Now the statement is in one paragraph in the original Sinhala version. What is the fuss, one may ask? Let me give the official English posting first and then my translation from the original Sinhala next.

“In many parts of the world, we see the unfortunate proliferation of anger, hatred, and brutality. I would call that the contemporary society is experiencing a crisis of morality. I believe that all states should pay heed to the cry for moral values. I believe that every society must dedicate itself to raise its share of positive moral values.

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. The teachings of the Buddha help us find solutions to many of the burning issues of the contemporary world. Similarly, I am sure the wisdom offered by the great world religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and others can help us today. As such, I am of the view that we, as states, can strengthen and foster those religions and philosophies that help us look inward.”

More accurate translation of the original might be the following.

‘Honourable President, in many countries in the world today, in the prevailing international contexts, we see wars, war like situations, and sometimes more barbaric conditions along with disunity, hatred and societies gripped with hatred. Here, the absence of a moral fibre necessary for our human society is a major problem. In today’s conflict ridden societies, the need to build a citizenry based on morality is important, and I believe all countries should give priority to this need. Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country, I believe that the wisdom revealed by the Theravada Buddhist philosophy would be extremely important for resolving many problems in the world today. Similarly, I believe it is necessary for all countries to strengthen and expand religious and spiritual philosophies based on Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions, in resolving civilizational problems that we are faced with.’

Here it is clear that it is not a proclamation that the President made Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. He took the example “Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country” (Sri Lankawa baudhha ratak vidihata) and emphasized Buddhism’s importance. There is a difference between the two. His emphasis was on the role of religion and spiritual philosophies in ‘resolving civilizational problems that we are faced with.’


There was an ambiguity however. It is not clear whether the President deviated from the text which was prepared before, or the local translators deviated from (or distorted) the President’s ‘broader concern for religion’ to highlight ‘Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country.’ Whatever is the case, the UN General Assembly might not be the best place to do so. UN is a secular or independent organization from religions and it should continue to be the case. Religious debates should not spoil its purposes.

What the President said in Sinhala can have two meanings. (1) Admittedly, there is a growing feeling among many people that there should be a ‘religious awakening’ to counter what they call the moral degeneration in the present day society. This is a trend going against (pure) secularism. During my last visit to Vietnam, I have witnessed a growing religiosity particularly among the youth even in this (or previously) communist country. However, there are sections who emphasise this need as ‘spiritualism in general’ or as ‘interfaith spiritualism.’ The President’s speech undoubtedly resonates this aspect of belief.
(2) More obvious was his apparent belief that Buddhism offers some solutions to the present day predicaments in the world. There is an undeniable truth in this as well. I myself have emphasized the methodological or scientific importance of Buddhism. The President said that in the particular context of conflicts and wars in the world today. He also identified disunity, hatred and revenge in societies to highlight the need for peace and conflict resolution. There are some Western philosophers, like Johan Galtung, who also emphasise the same importance of Buddhist methodology for conflict resolution and peace. Even the UNESCO has taken its motto primarily from Buddhism which says “As wars begin in the mind of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed.”

However, the above has nothing much to do with Theravada Buddhism per se. The most respected Buddhist leader in the world today is Dalai Lama from Tibet. The President’s emphasis on Theravada Buddhism can be controversial in that context or even otherwise. Why emphasize, Theravada only when there are few other strands? The most important might be to emphasize Buddhism in general without reference to one strand or the other. One could also argue that for some reason, Theravada countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma and Cambodia) have been engulfed in violence and conflict than other Buddhist countries in the recent past. Therefore, particularly a statesman from Sri Lanka should prove the theory before preaching it to the world.


The President’s statement at the UN has other implications in projecting the country’s image within the international community. It could give the wrong impression that Sri Lanka at least shy away from embracing ‘multiculturalism.’ I am using the term ‘multiculturalism’ broadly to mean diversity and pluralism in many spheres of ethnicity, language, religion and culture. At least it is commonplace for statesmen or women to emphasize their countries and policies are multicultural in this continuously integrating complex world. What country is not multicultural these days?

For example, when the Australian PM delivered his speech, he said “Australia is one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world – from the oldest human cultures of our First Australians, to those people who come from almost every UN member state.” He went on saying,

“Australians are not defined by religion or race, we are defined by political values; a common commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law, underpinned and secured by mutual respect.”

When Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke on behalf of Myanmar (Burma), although she didn’t use the term ‘multiculturalism’ explicitly, it was all over there in her speech. She said “When we talk about building peace and development, we cannot neglect the important aspect of enhancing respect for human rights, equality, diversity and tolerance.” She further said, “We must be united in standing together against all forms and manifestations of violent extremism related to religious, cultural and social intolerance.”

Tamil mothers recognize disappeared children, in a photo with President Sirisena

Tamil mothers recognize disappeared children, in a photo with President Sirisena

Sep 27, 2016

The boy and the girl were abducted by the LTTE in 2009. Since then they went missing. Women recognize them in a campaign leaflet in January and step up searches. So far no clues. In August they met Sirisena, who promised the creation of a Department for cases of this type, but he did not reveal in which school is the photo was taken.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Two Tamil mothers ​​ recognized their missing children, a boy and a girl, in a flyer election  belonging to the campaign of President Maithripala Sirisena, elected last January.
From that day Yogeswaran Chandrans (Hindu) and Kasipillai Jeyawanitha (Catholic), mothers of Yogeswaran Mauran and Kasipillai Jeromi have not stopped looking for their children, but without success. The disappearance was in 2009, the last year of the bloody war (lasting 30 years) between the army and Tamil rebels.
The leaflet shows Sirisena smiling among some young people, among which there are the faces of the two disappeared Tamils ​​. "These are our children and our president is with them – says one of the mothers - the President took the photo just before the presidential election, so we are sure that he knows where they are. We are happy to know  that they are alive somewhere on this earth. "
"Mauran was 23 when he disappeared," says Yogeswaran Chandrans, 52 years. "He studied at Chinna Puarasakulam Pulliankulam. After school he worked in the rice fields with his sick father. In those days we hid our children from the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, separatist militias in the north of the country ed], because they kidnapped them to send them to fight. That day they took my son. After some time - she continues - some young people managed to escape and surrender to the regular army. Mauran was also among them. Since that day we have tried to find him in all the refugee camps, but we never found him".
Even Jeromi, the daughter of Kasipillai Jeyawanitha, was kidnapped in the same way: "It was March 4, 2009 when she was taken, she was only 17 years old. They made her do military training until the regular army has raided the camp and took her and all of the young people into custody. A boy - she continues - testified that he saw my daughter among them. This young man then died in a grenade explosion. From that day I and other mothers went everywhere looking for them, we have held protest marches everywhere, but we have had no answer".
"When we saw the flyer - Kasipillai Jeyawanitha continues-  Icould not contain the joy in my heart. I believed that God would make me my child! I went through the village to ask for them to vote for Sirisena, so that when he became president we would find our children. "
The women managed to meet President on August 7. "We showed him the flyer - says Kasipillai Jeyawanitha - and he looked so attentive. He said he will set up a special department for cases like this. So far, however, we have not achieved any result. "
The women are asking the President to disclose what the school where you took the photo of the flyer. "We have not recognized the school uniform, tie and badge - they say - and we do not know where the school is. Only the President knows. We are sure that he recognized our children, and if we need to we will do DNA testing. "

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Failure Of The NPC Would Spell Medium & Long-Term Disaster

Colombo Telegraph
By Vishwamithra1984 –September 28, 2016
“I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is course, and stuffed with the stuff that is fine, one of the nation, of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest” ~ Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
‘It has merely been a talk shop with resolutions and statements. Its notorious genocide resolution a month after regime change in Colombo last year, apparently passed to mobilize international actors, in effect polarized the country and undermined the new political space for reconciliation. The sad reality is that the NPC has lost its credibility with the local population’. So writes Ahilan Kadirgamar, a writer of no mean credentials and reputation. It’s time the Northern Provincial Council, its leaders and the Central Government in Sri Lanka took notice of what actually is taking shape in the Northern part of the land. Retired Supreme Court Justice seems to have missed his original brief and instead making instantaneous notes and the jury is waiting to hear the summation. The Central Government, on the hand seems to be oblivious of the embers that are burning under the red soil of the North, waiting for rare rains in as summer of an unpredictable landscape.Wigneswaran Maithripala
Time is a cruel customer. It will wait for no one. In a fast-paced society in which the changes that are occurring far outmatch those who pretend that they could control and master the events to come. Politicians, officials, henchmen and would-be jockeys on both sides of the ethnic spectrum are playing a dangerous game- a game that would end with no winners but only losers. The tremendous socio-political neutrality that the cessation of the thirty-year war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan security forces entailed is diminishing. The international players in this game, the Tamil Diaspora, are entangled in what might be just outside their realm of competence. Geopolitical socio-political strategies are subjects of crafty diplomats and clever politicians. Years-long experience, scholarly backgrounds, disciplined preparation and crystal-clear objectives are a reflection of a professional proficiency. Mere loyalty to a cause backed by money, reputation, power and unrelated credentials would not hold one in good stead in the sheltered alleys of international negotiations.
While not disregarding his extraordinary commitment to the cause of his Tamil brethren and unmatched credentials to be elected as Chief Minister of a troubled and traumatized province, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and his cohorts, if there are any, must buckle down and start delivering goods instead of long ‘judgments’ as he was used to delivering from the Bench. The Supreme Court Justice Wigneswaranmust give way to the politician Wigneswaran and for that matter a rare variety of such creatures. The Tamils set an example in selecting their nominees and electing those nominees to office. Wigneswaran belong s to such select few, reminding one of those State Council and parliamentary days of a bygone era.

Paradise Lost: The hidden costs of tourism development in Sri Lanka


August 27 is World Tourism Day. This year,  the theme is “promoting universal accessibility.” Groundviews decided to focus on sustainable tourism – and specifically, on how tourism development has impacted local communities.
Tourism is a vital driver of income to the local economy – with over a million tourists arriving in Sri Lanka from January to August 2016 alone. It also provides thousands of people with jobs, either directly or indirectly.
However, in some instances tourism development has come at the cost of homes and livelihoods, as Groundviews found when visiting these areas. This speaks to the need for a much more consultative and educative process with local communities, to ensure that tourism development benefits, and is accessible, to all.
Groundviews would like to extend thanks to the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) and the many local organisers who facilitated both access to these areas and background information for this piece. This list also draws from Sri Lanka Campaign’s comprehensive list on who to avoid in their ethical tourism campaign.
The detailed story, created using Adobe Spark, can be accessed here or viewed below:

BCIS Pipes A New Tune

Colombo Telegraph
By Darshanie Ratnawalli –September 28, 2016 
 Darshanie Ratnawalli
Darshanie Ratnawalli
In meeting the present Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) Director Dr. Harinda Vidanage, ostensibly to interview him, I have an ulterior motive. I go to judge him. The BCIS is a tertiary educational institute offering study programmes in international relations. BCIS programmes promise to be potential gateways to careers in the Sri Lankan Foreign Service, foreign missions and international organizations. Leaving aside his dynamism, energy, leadership – standard baggage for any good administrator – how good is Harinda Vidanage’s discernment of international relations? Could he be a good mentor to students whose future career may involve interacting with the world to further the interests of Sri Lanka?
Test 1 – India- Sri Lanka Bridge
As the appointee of a government whose Prime Minister is reliably credited with numbering among his favourite projects, a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka, how would Dr. Vidanage interpret this issue? Would he use fancy footwork to remain elusive and non-committal or would he stand and bite the bullet like the Southerner that he is?harinda-2
“So what do you think of this bridge between India and Sri Lanka?” I ask. “I have no idea” he retorts. Such instant evasion isn’t promising, I think discouraged. Perhaps if one were to approach him as a woman of the world on the subject of bridges… “I am not asking whether it’s going to be built or not. I am asking your opinion. All these bridges, the first time they are proposed there’ s always opposition, for example even for the Channel Tunnel, between France and England, when it was proposed 100 years ago, it was opposed. But eventually it was built. Even the Korea-Japan Tunnel, it’s opposed now because of nationalistic and xenophobic concerns, but don’t you think all these bridges will be built eventually?”
Harinda Vidanage places his answer at a midpoint between the two extremes that are polarizing the current debate. He doesn’t say the bridge is bad down with the bridge, nor does he say the bridge is the greatest thing since the World Wide Web, let’s have it. He tells me that he is trying to answer my question in a unconventional way. His answer has three parts.
Part one – The real issue is connectivity with India. For connectivity with India, a bridge is not really necessary. You have enough means of connecting these two countries already.
The single largest challenge faced by our profession is delay: Justice Thurairaja

Court of Appeal gets first judge from upcountry Tamil community

The following is an extract of the speech delivered by newly-appointed Justice Sithambarampillai Thurairaja who has been elevated to the August Judiciary as a Justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Thurairaja is a product of his alma mater Pussellawa Saraswathi Maha Vidyalam and St. Anthony’s College, Kandy. 
Having been a member of the official Bar for nearly three decades and having engaged in my professional work in the original and appellate courts across the length and breadth of our country, I bring with me to the bench, the experience of being exposed to the numerous challenges that counsel, law enforcement agencies, litigants and victims face across the country. I trust that we, at the bench and at the Bar, could together continue our joint struggle to overcome the challenges faced by the system in the administration of justice. 
I believe, as Sir Edward Coke, the famous compiler of the Institutes, noted four hundred years ago, “To speak effectually, plainly, and shortly, it becometh the gravity of this profession. Truth takes small delight with varnish of words and garnish of flowers.” I propose to do just and share briefly and bereft of frills, some of my views on how we could jointly leave the legal profession better situated than when we inherited it. 
Whilst being brief, I am mindful of  the cautioning of Lord Denning, “So long as a judge keeps silent, his reputation for wisdom and impartiality remains unassailable.” 

"Another area where we can advance significantly is in the context of embracing technology. Electronic filing of documents and an electronic registry will ensure that we will not have situations of important documents mysteriously disappearing. "

I do not propose to engage in a discourse on esoteric jurisprudential concepts or labour at length on the importance of the independence of judicial office. With regard to this hallowed office and the independence therefore, it would be insulting if this august assembly needs reminding thereof. Allow me then to share with you some of my visions for a more efficient discharge of justice. 
The single largest challenge faced by our profession is delay. From a moral or a rights-based perspective, delay is clearly detrimental and amounts to a gross violation of litigants’ and victims’ rights.  Quite apart from the ethical issues with delay, there are significant direct and indirect negative implications to the profession and country as a whole due to delays. The World Bank’s Doing Business rankings for 2016, ranked Sri Lanka 161st out of 189 countries in the category of ‘Enforcement of Contracts.’ This is one of the worst rankings and we too have to take responsibility for this situation. What is the outcome of this low ranking? Why would an investor invest in a country where contracts cannot be enforced effectively? Why would a sensible entrepreneur risk tying up his capital in protracted litigation? Less investment has a direct impact on the amount of work for our profession. The delay in concluding civil litigation does not guarantee income for a lawyer, but precludes the flow of new work. 
On the criminal side, a long delay in concluding a trial has a significant impact on the society at large. This could in turn be construed as lack of will or commitment to effective prosecution of crimes by the State. Such a view can have serious implications to the credibility of our judiciary and legal system as a whole, which in turn can have serious negative outcomes. 
The most effective method of reducing delay in cases is for trials and hearings to be taken on a day-to-day basis. His Lordship the Chief Justice and their Lordships of the Supreme Court have set a good example in reducing the backlog by increasing the number of benches and streamlining the manner in which new cases are being heard. Their lead needs to be followed by all courts. 
In the original courts there is no excuse for trials not being taken up on a daily basis. If our profession is serious about its commitment to professionalism and the interests of litigants and the State, it is imperative that immediate measures are taken to discuss with the Chief Justice and the Judicial Service Commission to implement day-to-day hearings in both criminal and civil cases, and indeed in appellate hearings as well. I can safely state that the judiciary and the Official Bar are ready and willing to take the lead in this regard; it is up to the Bar Association to demonstrate its commitment. I commend this matter as a matter for serious and immediate action to the President of the Bar Association. 

"The World Bank’s Doing Business rankings for 2016, ranked Sri Lanka 161st out of 189 countries in the category of ‘Enforcement of Contracts.’ This is one of the worst rankings and we too have to take responsibility for this situation. What is the outcome of this low ranking? "

Having been involved in a supervisory capacity for a long period of time on cases involving minors, I must state that the delay in those cases has an inexcusable impact on the trauma that children face. Delay in these cases cannot be excused and urgent steps have to be taken in this regard. 
I have been shocked to note, for instance, that cases filed under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction Act no. 10 of 2001 take several years to conclude notwithstanding the fact that our legislation has contemplated such cases being concluded within six weeks. Such delay is clearly traumatic for a child who has already been traumatised by removal from that child’s place of habitual residence. The delay perversely helps the parent who has abducted the child. 
There is no reason why courts cannot ascertain from counsel and agree on time periods for the evidence of witnesses or for submissions well in advance of a trial or hearing. Counsel should be held to their time estimates, except in the case of the most exceptional circumstances. Setting time limits in advance helps counsel formulate their cases and strategy in advance and ensures that there is no unnecessary delay. 
Equally important is for specific times to be allocated for hearings. It is discourteous for the bench to make attorneys and litigants await their case to be taken for hours on end. We are not dispensing justice based on a divine privilege, or doing favours to litigants, but exercising the judicial power of the people in terms of the Constitution. Respect for attorneys and clients is imperative when viewed from this perspective.  These are hardly measures that are novel or revolutionary. It is disheartening to note that these measures are well entrenched in many judicial systems around the world and that we are much behind. 
Another area where we can advance significantly is in the context of embracing technology. Electronic filing of documents and an electronic registry will ensure that we will not have situations of important documents mysteriously disappearing. Documents will be accessible to litigants, judges, attorneys and even the public. Obtaining copies of documents and issuing notices would be a matter of pressing a key instead of long delays and unnecessary dealings with members of the registries, whose valuable time could be spent on more pressing matters.  The embracing of technology would also raise numerous legal issues in the context of evidence as well as procedure. But these are matters on which we would need to be proactive. For instance, we have to take proactive steps to ensure that we have procedures in place to deal with issues pertaining to digital forensics in the world of cloud computing, and especially the international aspects pertaining to the cloud. As greater amounts of data migrate to the cloud, various issues pertaining to privacy, security and obtaining of evidence arise. Coming late to the digital world enables us to leapfrog development milestones and avoid pitfalls faced by other jurisdictions. Judges, law enforcement authorities, investigators and lawyers need to be trained in these areas. 

Resistance to change will at best make the judiciary largely irrelevant or more likely an impediment to achieving justice. 
As the Chief Justice of South Africa Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng stated at a symposium on rule of law; 
“the judiciary is the third branch of government; the third arm of the State. There simply can be no State or government without the judiciary in a genuine constitutional democracy. To recapture the lost glory of a nation, the judiciary must be more alive to the enormous responsibilities it bears on its shoulders to contribute to the Renaissance of the country.”
I am mindful of these responsibilities as I assume my judicial journey today. 
I am indebted to many people and institutions that have helped me on my journey in my profession. In my 28 years at the Attorney General’s Department, I have been exposed not only to the most wide and varied areas of the law, but also to extraordinary individuals, young and old, who work tirelessly to discharge their obligations. As the Attorney General reminded me a few days ago on the occasion of my farewell from the Department, all that the AG’s Department expects from a member who adorns the Bench is a commitment to discharge justice fairly. The diverse work that the Attorney General’s Department performs, provides the opportunity for cross-fertilisation of ideas and symbiotic development. There is no better place for a young lawyer to begin his or her professional career and it is important that the institution be fostered and given the necessary resources to continue to be a centre of excellence. 

President Maithripala Sirisena to appear in court !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -27.Sep.2016, 10.30PM) The president Maithripala Sirisena of good governance is getting ready to demonstrate  that  the notion  hitherto harbored that  the executive president is above the law is no longer tenable, and that era is over. He is therefore preparing to appear before court, based on reports reaching Lanka e news.  
The president is readying to give evidence in court in the case filed against Tissa Attanayake based on most serious charges of circulating a document bearing the forged signature of the president via the media during the run up to the last presidential elections with a view to dupe and deceive the people . This means lawyers of both sides will have the opportunity to cross examine the incumbent president . The latter will be liable for punishment like an ordinary witness if evidence is proved false. 
Sometimes even the Prime Minister will have to be a witness in this case.
In the circumstances , in the not too distant future  the people will be able to taste the fruits of their labors consequent upon  the welcome change they brought about on 8 th January 2015 . This is a result of the 19 th amendment introduced after the advent of the new government under the president himself.
If the incumbent president can be brought before the court , who says , crooked , corrupt , cruel ,murderous and despotic ex president and his first lady (former) cannot be hauled up before court , his having gone  on pension notwithstanding ?
by     (2016-09-27 17:09:28)
Lasantha Wickrematunge’s body exhumed amidst tight police cordon, media shutout 


logoBy Dharisha Bastians -Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The body of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was exhumed for a fresh autopsy yesterday, nearly eight years after he was brutally slain on the streets of the capital at the height of the war. 

Swarms of police personnel hovered over the gravesite in a corner of the Borella Cemetery which was in lockdown during the exhumation process which concluded at noon. White and blue tents were erected in front of Wickrematunge’s grave, for a magistrate and plainclothes police personnel to inspect the exhumation by forensic investigators. Colombo Additional Magistrate Mohammed Mihal oversaw the exhumation which took place behind a curtain of black plastic to shield the proceedings from the street outside the cemetery fence. 

Proceedings halted briefly after police spotted a drone camera and tried to locate the controller of the remote device which was flying over the open gravesite during the exhumation. Media personnel were prevented from entering the cemetery until the exhumation was concluded, on a special request by the family for privacy. 

Wickrematunge’s remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Judicial Medical Officer in Colombo under tight security. The examination into Wickrematunge’s remains was set to begin at the JMO Office at 1.30 p.m. yesterday, with a new report expected within a month. The former editor’s remains will be reburied once the investigations are complete, Attorney Athula S. Ranagala, a lawyer for the family told reporters at the cemetery. 

“A magistrate and a team of doctors supervised the exhumation,” Ranagala told journalists from behind the iron bars that fence off Colombo’s main cemetery. The lawyer representing the interests of Wickrematunge’s family said they had requested controlled media access during the exhumation to prevent further trauma for his three children. 

A fresh autopsy of Wickrematunge’s body was necessary to determine the exact cause of death after two previous medical examinations had produced contradictory reports, the CID which has taken over the investigation into the prominent journalist’s killing told the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s Court earlier this month. 

Wickrematunge, who was killed by unidentified gunmen as he drove to work on 8 January 2009, was a fierce critic of the Rajapaksa Government and ran a stridently anti-establishment newspaper. At the time, his murder sparked international outrage and highlighted the Rajapaksa regime’s deteriorating rights record and its war against the independent press. 

Yesterday’s exhumation process is part of a fresh investigation into Wickrematunge’s death that commenced after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime in January 2015. Two months ago, a military intelligence official, P. Udalagama, was arrested in connection with the high profile murder, raising serious questions about the role of the defence establishment in hunting critics and journalists when the former Government was in power. Military intelligence personnel have also been arrested as suspects in several other high profile cases, including the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda and the attack on former Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon. 

Since the exhumation order was granted on 9 September, Wickrematunge’s grave has been under armed police guard to ensure the remains were undisturbed. 

Witnesses to the exhumation said the remains were well preserved and surfaced after labourers dug about three feet into the grave. 

In the absence of family members, former Sunday Leader journalists Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and Dilrukshi Handunetti, and Nirmala Kannangara, a reporter who still works for the newspaper Wickrematunge founded, acted as witnesses to the exhumation.

“I had to identify the body - it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done,” Abeywickrema said, shortly after the exhumation was concluded. 

“I knew Lasantha as a lively bundle of mischief – to see him like this was so hard. It also made me very angry that we have had to wait so long for justice and even now he is not allowed to be at peace,” said Abeywickrema, who briefly served as editor of The Sunday Leader last year. 

She said the fresh probe into Wickrematunge’s death was also creating some hope that his killers would finally be brought to justice. Since military intelligence officials had been arrested in connection with the murder, Abeywickrema urged police sleuths to question the leaders of the security establishment and former military officials to determine the truth about why the senior journalist was murdered. 

Wickrematunge had been killed in broad daylight at the height of the war, just five months before the Government defeated the Tigers, when security in the capital was at its highest, Abeywickrema explained. 

“They need to find the people who pulled the trigger. But they also need to find out who gave the orders to pull the trigger,” she said. 

The Free Media Movement has condemned the police for “irrational action” in barring journalists from witnessing the exhumation, although the statement makes no mention of the fact that the family had specifically requested privacy during the proceedings. The FMM said there was no judicial directive to prevent the media from covering the exhumation and urged transparency during the new investigation into Wickrematunge’s killing. 

However, journalists were also prevented from getting close to the gravesite during the exhumation of Wasim Thajudeen’s body, after a court ordered a fresh autopsy in that case too when police cited flawed JMO reports. Media personnel were only permitted to enter the area once the remains were removed from the cemetery. 

Wickrematunge was the most senior journalist to be murdered in Sri Lanka, with international media watchdogs ranking the country as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists during Rajapaksa’s nine-year rule. 

Wickrematunge’s newspaper stood out as a strong critic of the Rajapaksa Administration’s war against the LTTE, consistently raising concerns about human rights violations and the brutal tactics being employed in the embattled regions during the Government’s push against the Tigers. In the months preceding his death, Wickrematunge published a series of exposes on an allegedly corrupt deal to purchase MiG 29 aircraft for the Sri Lankan military which earned the wrath of the defence establishment at the time. 

His death struck a near-fatal blow to press freedom in the country, with journalists and media organisations falling in line and adopting self-censorship to prevent reprisals from the ruling regime. 

Pix Kithsiri de Mel 

Hiru Tries To Video Exhumation Of Lasantha’s Remains With Drone Camera As FMM Demands For Media Freedom

Colombo Telegraph
September 27, 2016 
Hiru News, owned by the brother of notorious Duminda Silva, gave scant regard to the request by the family of slain editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and attempted to film the exhumation today by sending across a drone camera to Wickrematunge’s grave site at the Borella General Cemetery.
Rayynor Silva
Rayynor Silva
The incident, resulted in the exhumation process being temporarily suspended in the morning. Although the police launched a search operation, they were however unable to locate the remote control or the person handling it, but the Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the drone camera was sent by Hiru News.
The media was barred from covering the exhumation following a request from Wickrematunge’s family. However, while most journalists and photographers stood outside the parameters and filmed the event which only showed the officials in attendance, Hiru news, which comes under Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), owned by Rayynor Silva attempted to film the exhumation of the slain editor, going against all forms of journalism ethics.
The remains of Wickrematunge has been sent for a fresh autopsy, after the CID told the court early this month that there was inconsistencies in the original report submitted by the then Judicial Medical Officer.
Meanwhile the Free Media Movement has condemned what it calls “irrational action” by Police to bar reporters from witnessing the exhumation of the slain journalist. Issuing a press release before the exhumation was even complete, the FMM said the police had not been given a directive from the Magistrate to keep the media locked out of the cemetery during the exhumation. “The Free Media Movement vehemently condemn the irrational act of the Sri Lanka Police by restricting journalists the chance to report and cover the exhumation of the remains of the former editor Mr. Lasantha Wickrematunge. A prior announcement by the law enforcement agencies of such a restriction had not been notified,” the statement by FMM Convenor Seetha Ranjanee said.
“The Free Media Movement vehemently condemns the act of the Police and emphasise the need to conduct the current investigation unbiased. The Government should initiate a special investigation on the irrational act of the police restricting access to journalists who went to cover an important inquiry of the Lasantha Wickramatunga’s murder investigation,” the statement added.

"Breaking Stereotypes on Labour Migration" Competition Call for Applications!

"Breaking Stereotypes on Labour Migration" Competition Call for Applications!

 Sep 27, 2016

We are writing with regard to the 2016 ILO media campaign, “Breaking Stereotypes on Labour Migration” which aims to recognize exemplary media coverage on labour migration. This is the second ILO media competition following last year's Reporting Fairly on Migration.

The competition started 14 September and ends on 31 October 2016. Professional journalists are invited to submit one piece of their work to one of the two following categories:

   - Written articles (online or print articles)
    - Videos/multimedia

Articles should not exceed 2000 and videos/multimedia should not be longer than 5 minutes. Submissions must have been created and published between 1 January 2015 and 31 October 2016 to qualify. Submitted entries should cover labour migration-related issues.Entries are accepted in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. Entries in other languages will be accepted provided there is a translation in one of the three languages mentioned.
There will be two winners in each category and each winner will receive a prize of $1000. Winners will be officially announced on 18 December to mark International Migrants Day. Winning entries will be featured on ILO website and widely promoted as an example of good journalism.
For further inquiries, please contact:
We greatly appreciate if you could circulate the campaign widely to your members, networks and media contacts. We hope to encourage more entries with your support in promoting and disseminating the information. Please see attached the competition flyer in English which you could use in the promotion of the campaign.
Thank you and looking forward to your support.
Courage, Peace, Power in a world in which our working together brings hope, meaning and transformation.
William Gois



( Arjun Mahendran was forced to resign over the bonds issue)

Sri Lanka Brief27/09/2016

Perpetual Treasuries Limited, a primary gilt dealership, connected the family of a controversial former Sri Lanka central bank governor, has made a profit of 5.1 billion rupees for the year to March 2016 up 434 percent from a year earlier, published data show.

The firm reported capital gains of 5.2 billion rupees from bond trading in the year to March 2016, up 581 percent from 767 million rupees a year earlier, accounts published in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Observer newspaper showed.

Under central bank regulations, all primary dealers have to publish their accounts.

Return on beginning-of-the-equity of 1,065 million was 481 percent.

Sri Lanka’s bond markets were hit by a series of controversial bond auctions involving allegations rigging and insider dealing in 2015 and 2016 during the tenure of ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.
Perpetual Treasuries is connected to Mahendran’s son-in-law and he came under fire over conflicts of interest as long term bonds were sold at high rates where large volumes.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena declined to renew Mahendran’s term of office amid the allegations, which became the focus of a parliamentary inquiry.

Mahendran has denied wrongdoing.

Interest income at Perpetual Treasuries rose 162 percent to 942.8 million rupees and interest expenses rose 132 percent to 589.1 million rupees, and net interest income rose 233 percent to 353 million rupees.
The majority of profits of a primary dealer however comes from capital gains. Primary dealers in government securities, bids at government bond auctions and sell them to other buyers making a margin.
The price of a government bond rise when interest rates falls and the price falls when interest rates go up.
When rates fall, a dealer with a portfolio can sell and make profits from bond bought at a higher interest rate (low price). Interest rate volatility provides opportunities for dealers to make gains by selling down their portfolio.

Concerns were raised that after selling government bonds at high interest rates (low prices) by accepting sharply higher volumes of bids from favoured dealers effectively rigging the auctions, the bonds were then dumped dealers at low rates (high prices) on the Employees Provident Fund, which was managed by the central bank. (Colombo/Sept27/2016 – recast/updated)


Keheliya’s son’s car runs with fake number plate

Former Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s son Ramith Rambukwella’s driving licence was temporarily cancelled by Colombo Additional Magistrate Chandana Kalansooriya when the case against him for driving under the influence of liquor was heard today (27th).
The Cinnamon Garden Police had put forward five charges against Rambukwella including negligent driving, not avoiding a possible accident, drunken driving, driving a vehicle registered under someone else’s name and driving with a fake number plate.
The Cinnamon Gardens Police told court that it was revealed that the suspect was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and later when he was produced before a JMO to examine on the injuries to him from the accident the JMO in his report had stated that the suspect had a smell of alcohol as well.
The hearing was put off for further proceedings until the 18th October.