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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sri Lanka’s mothers ask international community to help find their children

There are 65,000 recorded cases of disappearances in Sri Lanka. Source: Shutterstock
SRI LANKA’s responses to questions on accountability for rights violations at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November were evasive and packed with clichés.

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This should spur the international community to demand Colombo cooperate in investigating enforced disappearances (and other violations) and prosecuting those responsible. Failure to hold Sri Lanka accountable will not only mean that the UN and foreign governments abdicating their commitment to international law, but ignoring family members of the disappeared in their quest for justice.

On 16 November, even as the UPR was in progress, a group of family members of the disappeared – almost all women – met Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo. Their petition said, “We are extremely frustrated that despite meetings with yourself and many other government officials, we still have come no closer to finding out the fate of our disappeared loved ones, and have been let down repeatedly by broken promises.”

There are 65,000 recorded cases of disappearances in Sri Lanka and the country is second only to Iraq in the number of unsolved disappearance cases submitted to the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Sirisena (left) shakes hands with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa after the swearing ceremony of Ranil Wickremesinghe as new Sri Lanka prime minister in Colombo in 2015. Source: AP

The November UPR was the latest attempt to hold the country accountable for human rights violations during and after Sri Lanka’s civil war, which ended in May 2009 when the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was defeated by the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse. A UN panel accused both the rebels and government troops of committing war crimes.

shock election defeat in January 2015 brought an end to Rajapakse’s atrocity-laden regime and installed Sirisena as president. Giving an appearance of taking a strong, pro-human rights line, the new government co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in September 2015 pledging redress of past violations through a series of measures, which included four transitional justice mechanisms. One of them was an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) to address disappearances; another, a judicial mechanism “including Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers…” This was because a court composed entirely Sri Lankan judges would be partial to the country’s military.
Clashing with an obdurate government and military as they searched for answers did not begin for family members of the disappeared with Sirisena. They had used civil disobedience and protests under the Rajapakse regime as well when their demands went unanswered. Rajapakse tried to dissuade protests by appointing a presidential commission (Paranagama Commission) to probe disappearances.

The Commission’s approach was to mostly shield the military from blame, while offering families of the disappeared financial compensation. The government’s other tactic to break protests was by targeting prominent individuals within the movement. In 2014, Balendran Jeyakumari a leading activist, whose son disappeared, was arrested by state security forces. A local and international outcry led to her release but the charges against her have not been withdrawn.

A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil prays for her relatives who died in fierce fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels in Mullivaikkal in Sri Lanka in 2015. Source: AP

Although the government had pledged before the international community to set up the OMP, it delayed. When legislation was finally drafted, it contained provisions contrary to demands of the victims. The Office would not have prosecutorial powers. What is more, the law said evidence uncovered during an investigation “shall not give rise to any criminal or civil liability.”  In their Nov 16 petition to Sirisena, families of the disappeared rejected the OMP in its present form.

The cynicism underlying the process to set up the OMP was, in many ways, a catalyst which galvanised the families of the disappeared to direct action. Faced with an institution that was far below expectations, they accused their elected representatives of working with the government on OMP legislation while ignoring concerns of the victims. At a meeting on June 30, 2016 families of the disappeared confronted national and provincial lawmakers of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Said a participant, “[a]s representatives of the Tamils you had approved setting up the Office [of Missing Persons]. How can this be without consulting the victims?”

On Sept 17, 2016, the TNA tried to answer the families’ concerns at a stormy meeting in the northern town of Mullaithivu. But by early 2017 it was becoming evident that more important issues were emerging in which families of the disappeared believed they had a role to play.
In March, the UNHRC announced that it was giving the Sri Lanka government another two years without a timeline or schedules to implement provisions in the 2015 Resolution. Families of the disappeared interpreted the UNHRC move was a consequence of Sri Lanka’s deceit. In Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu – two towns in that had suffered tremendous devastation in the fighting – protests erupted. Protestors set up a tent in Kilinochchi, replete with photographs of their missing loved ones wowing their vigil would not end unless the government provided them answers. On April 27, they blocked a main highway.

Tired of complaining to their elected representatives, the TNA, to no avail, family members of the disappeared approached the man in whose hands they thought the fate of their missing loved ones finally rested. On June 12, a delegation of mostly mothers and wives of the disappeared met Sirisena. Among their demands were two lists: names of those who had surrendered to the Sri Lanka military around the time when fighting ended in May 2009 and another on the political prisoners in government detention.

Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka. Source: Roxanne Desgagnés / Unsplash

The lists were important because there was no official record of how many had surrendered in the final months of armed combat or how many were in Government custody. Although families of the disappeared had tried to obtain this information through the Sri Lankan courts earlier, magistrates had been incapable of moving the military to provide it. International and Sri Lankan NGOs had documented how those in government custody had disappeared and the existence of at least one black site.

In response their demands, Sirisena blithely promised to get the process moving to have this information released soon. Almost six months later, the lists are yet to be disclosed. The tactic of the Sirisena government is clear: exhaust family members of the disappeared by keeping them in suspense about the information so that they stop protesting. Meanwhile, a consistent theme in Sirisena’s public statements was that no military personnel would be brought before international judges for wartime human rights violations, thereby dismissing the UNHRC resolution’s demand for the same.

It was frustration born of Sirisena’s hypocrisy that the group of mothers spoke of when they decided to beard the lion in its den on Nov 16. Addressing the media after meeting Sirisena at the presidential secretariat in Colombo, the chairwoman of the Kilinochchi Association of the Disappeared Yogarasa Kanakaranjiny appealed for the international community’s support and wowed to fight on.

Buddhist monks walk down a road asking for alms during the annual Vesak festival, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 11, 2017. Source: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

“Today we lost faith that this government, which preaches Buddhist values, will give us back our children … but we will continue our unremitting struggle for our loved ones,” she said. She also disclosed the toll 270 days and nights of protests – often waged in blistering heat and torrential rain – had taken. Five mothers, who had been protesting, had died.

Despite the indifference of the TNA and the government’s stonewalling, the commitment of the mothers and other family members of the disappeared to continue protesting until they are given credible information of their loved ones seems unwavering for the moment. Sensing this resolve, Colombo could crack down to break up the protests. It is important that the international community warns the Sirisena against such moves.

Even if a commitment to justice or admiration for the heroism of mothers does not inspire the hard-nosed diplomats in Geneva or New York, at least something else should.  If the Sri Lanka government continues to ignore the demands of family members of the disappeared for justice, it could prompt protests and acts of civil disobedience to intensify. This would affect political stability, investment and economic development. None of which the international community expect in a ‘reconciled’ post-war country.

SLFP supports devolution of power – Lasantha Alagiyawanna

By Ranjith Kumara Samarakoon-2017-12-15

Deputy Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supports devolution of power. "For that, the Executive Presidency is necessary. That is why we say if power is devolved, the unitary status of the country must be safeguarded. That was our opinion for decades."

Following are excerpts:

Do you have any responsibilities at the Ministry?

A: Definitely. I always became a Deputy Minister under the best Cabinet Ministers. It is a privilege to work for Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

You have been a Deputy Minister from 2004. When will you become a Cabinet Minister?
A: Time will tell. Let's wait and see. Positions are not essential to work.

It is three years since the two parties decided to work together. Are you happy?

A: This is the first time something like this has happened in the world. The two main parties have embarked on a journey together. It's a new experience. Due to this reason, both parties will encounter challenges when working together. There are problems; however, the victories achieved as a county are also immense.

At the present time, both parties are pointing fingers at each other. Isn't that so?

A: No. This is what is known as mixed results. There is good and bad as well.

You were with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 8 January. Thereafter, you joined this Government. Did you make a mistake?

A: No, I feel very happy. We will always be with the SLFP. We worked for President Mahinda Rajapaksa in two ways. One, to be honest, we toiled to make him win. The other thing is he did not lose a single vote because of us. After the election, we made every effort to appoint him as the Party Chairman and even the Leader of the Opposition.

However, the Joint Opposition says that there is no mandate for you to join hands with the UNP?

A: No, it was through a mandate that the path was prepared for both parties to work together.
Have things become so sour that both parties cannot work together?

A: No, it is not so. The founder of our Party, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was assassinated. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was deprived of her civic rights. Chandrika Kumaratunga joined other parties. Anura Bandaranaike joined the United National Party (UNP). But we rose up. The Party is still in existence. It's true that the Party has been divided into two. We have to accept that. The departed leaders are watching. Time is the cure for everything. This Party will never get destroyed.

It looks like the former President (Chandrika Kumaratunga) is attempting to enter politics again from Gampaha?

A: She is one of the reasons why I am in this position today. I have worked with her. I will always have respect for her. If you are hale and hearty you can always get back into politics. The same thing applies to her.

This Government promised to abolish the Executive Presidency and draft a new Constitution when it came to power, but now, your party opposes this. Why?

A: Our Party supports devolution of power. In order to achieve this, the Executive Presidency is necessary. That is why we say if power is devolved, the unitary status of the country must be safeguarded. That was our opinion for decades.

However, you always said that the Executive Presidency would be abolished?

A: If power is devolved to the Provinces, the Executive Presidency is mandatory.
Why did you say in '94 that the Executive Presidency would be abolished?

A: No, then we didn't have a two-third majority. That was why it was not abolished.

The Former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa built up a two-third majority. But he didn't do it?

A: At that time, there was a war in the country. In any case, the Executive Presidency is necessary when there is a war.

But there is no war now?

A: Yes, we accept that it is necessary to devolve power.

The UNP, which introduced the Executive Presidency likes to abolish it, but the SLFP, which always wanted to abolish it, is now against abolition?

A: No. The UNP has said that it will accept any solution arrived at by the majority. We cannot predict what they are going to say, nor can anyone else.

So, in other words, the UNP respects a general consensus?

A: Yes, in terms of this, they do, but neither party strongly supports abolition.

During the 100-day programme and afterwards, the promise was to abolish it?

A: Many of its features were abolished. The Supreme Court didn't permit the abolition of some of its features. President Maithripala Sirisena's election manifesto states that he will not attempt to do anything that will require a referendum.

Both parties decided to work together for the betterment of the country, but isn't what is happening the complete opposite?

A: Why, see what the investigations of the Bond Commission have revealed.

Your party is unable to prevent things to start with?

A: We cannot predict what will happen beforehand, but if we get wind of something we will most certainly stop it in its tracks.

After getting wind of it, what did you'll do?

A: It was Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who went to the Bribery Commission first of all. The report was released thanks to the Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), D.E.W. Gunasekara. However, it couldn't be tabled in Parliament. Our Party appointed a separate committee. After this, the President took action to appoint the Commission. Those who are connected to this big fraud must be punished.

The Prime Minister also goes to the Commission?

A: The former Governor of the Central Bank made representations to COPE about the Prime Minister. He mentioned about him at the Commission too. So, the Prime Minister went before the Commission.

Is it true that Ministers' and MPs' telephones are being tapped?

A: It's not true. Even former President Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke about this. Crimes are detected with the help of modern technology. Such orders are obtained from Court. Telephone bills are also taken. No tapping has been done for that purpose.

Did Arjun Aloysius talk to you?

A: No, he didn't talk to me. I have not seen him. However, it is said that he had spoken to over forty MPs.

Why haven't the names been revealed?

A: The names should be revealed.

Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe stated that he spoke to him to conduct research for a book?
A: If he had expressed his gratitude in the preface of the book there will be no issue.

How can the loss incurred by this transaction be assessed?

A: The direct loss is enormous. The indirect economic loss is incalculable. It had a big impact on the dollar value, fluctuation of bank interest, and debt burden of the country; there are other frauds, but this is the biggest fraud.

If that is the case, how will you continue to remain in this government?

A: It is because we are there that the country has been protected even this much. Leaving the Government won't be of benefit to the country or the people.

If you'll join the Joint Opposition, the government will become a minority?

A: That's true, but as a Party a decision will be taken in two years. This is not the time for that.

Will the Party be in existence after two years? Won't the Joint Opposition rise?

A: No, that's not a problem. In the past, we were humiliated when we were in the Opposition, but the Party was not destroyed. Just because someone humiliates us while we are in the government, that doesn't mean it is the end of our party.

Some say that the President and the Prime Minister are at loggerheads?

A: One may get that impression when analysing certain incidents, but I think they are working with understanding.

But Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe criticizes everyone, including the President?

A: We unreservedly reject those. Nobody can destroy anyone. People need to do the right thing. We condemn his statements with revulsion. The President has given us maximum freedom. If one fulfils his responsibility, there is no issue.

The election is becoming only a dream, isn't it?

A: We are ready for the election.

There'll be a three-cornered fight, correct? What will happen?

A: We will talk about that after the election.

Will you win?

A: There is a disadvantage when the Party is divided into two. You cannot arrive at a conclusion by looking at the trend. During the last Presidential Election, 15,000 people attended former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's rally in my electorate. There were only 600 people at President Maithripala Sirisena's rally, but we won by a majority of 9,000.

Does former President Chandrika Kumaratunga like people who leave the party and rejoin at a later date?

A: There are various opinions, but the Party is one.

Finally, will the SLFP join the Joint Opposition or the UNP?

A: All Parties must come together for the betterment of the country. However, we as a Party, will never join the UNP.

What will happen in 2020?

A: We will decide with the Party. I will always be with the Leader.
Working group on arbitrary detention: preliminary findings from its visit to Sri lanka (4 to 15 December 2017)

UN representatives Jose Antonion Guevara Bermudez and Elina Steinerte at yesterday’s press briefing.
Working group on arbitrary detention:  preliminary findings from its visit to Sri lanka (4 to 15 December 2017)

15 December 2017


At the invitation of the Government, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention conducted its official country visit to Sri Lanka from 4 to 15 December 2017. The Working Group was represented by Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez (Mexico, Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia, Vice-Chair) and Ms. Elina Steinerte (Latvia, Vice-Chair), and accompanied by staff from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Working Group thanks the UN Country Team, its Resident Coordinator and the Human Rights team for supporting the visit.

Responsibility In The Judiciary & Lawyers To Combat Corruption

By Nagananda Kodituwakku –December 15 2017 

This Nation continues to suffer in the hands of criminal elements occupying public office in the Legislature and the Executive who abuse public office for their private benefit, engaging in corruption and robbing the Nation with total impunity.

The attention of all the concerned citizens is drawn to the “Forward made by UN Secretary General Kofi A Annan” to the UN Convention against Corruption [58/4 of 31st of October 2003], ratified by the Republic of Sri Lanka on 31st of March 2004, which is very pertinent to the situation faced by the people of Sri Lanka.

“… Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violation of human righs, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human society to flourish. This evil phenomenon found in developing world, its affects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government’s ability to provide basis services, feeding inequality and injustice and discourage foreign aid and investment. Corruption is the key element in economic under performance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development …’   
Dear citizens! It is the duty of all of us to comprehend that the Motherland can never be put right without eradicating corruption, a noble act and also a national requirement that call for a fearless and upright judiciary committed to protect vindicate and enforce judicial power of the people (Article 105 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka).

And the Lord Justice Dennings, considered as greatest English Judge of modern times remonstrated that ‘…  Judges cannot afford to be timorous souls. They cannot remain impotent, incapable and sterile in the face of injustice …’

However, to achieve the objective of eradicating corruption there is a paramount duty vested in the members of the legal profession as well to assist the judiciary and the Constitution mandates all citizens including lawyers to preserve and protect the public property and to combat abuse of public property (Article 28 of the Constitution).  This is the only way forward to fight corruption and win the confidence of the people.

Elaborating the role of the judiciary the Latimer House principles promulgated by the Commonwealth of Nations requires thatthe Judges shall   be accountable to the Constitution and to the law, which they must apply honestly, independently and with honestly. The principles of judicial accountability and INDEPENDENCE underpin the public confidence in the judicial system and the importance of the judiciary as one of the three pillars upon which a responsible government relies.

On the other hand to protect the lawyers who work conscientiously in their chosen occupation there are international instruments requiring all the governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference (United Nations Basic Principles on the role of lawyer Rule 16). And they also dictate that no contempt proceedings shall be used to restrict legitimate criticism of the performance of the judicial functions – Commonwealth Latimer House principles

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Think twice before you vote! 

The town councils, provincial councils and mega town councils hold major importance and are closer to the people than other political institutions that wield authority. Especially our citizens involved in policy making directly interfere with the activities of theses political institutions. These institutions provide many services to the country’s citizens. Some of these services are supplying water, constructing roads, maintaining playgrounds, administrating primary schools, clearing of garbage apart form collecting tax. These institutes also protect and maintain the environment. 
Have the Government authorities done their job here ?
But sadly there have been occasions when the local authorities have avoided their duties. There have also been occasions when these institutes have failed to provide solutions to pollution. Most of these irregularities are linked to people with inadequate educational qualifications assigned to certain posts. 
We need politicians who can spend their own money on election campaigns. 

We must also have a close watch over politicians who become rich overnight. We must check whether they have fulfilled their obligations towards the people. We must watch out for candidates at elections who have track records of being associated with the underworld and have been accused of being cheats. 
There have also been occasions when these institutes have failed to provide solutions to pollution. Most of these irregularities are linked to people with inadequate educational qualifications assigned to certain posts
People who want to be in office must be answerable to the people. They should protect national assets. They must treat people impartially without considering political affiliations and race. They should have track records of having worked in a proper manner. They should have been honest. It’s only then that we can think of them as our true representatives and vote for them. 

We must elect people who have an overall vision. They must not restrict their vision to the province and must think of the country as a whole. It is then only that they can be considered as our real representatives. We should only vote for such people to hold office. 

By G .H. Vishwajith Fernando 
Eastern University —Trincomalee campus

Sri Lanka Joins Global Landmine Ban

Others Should Reconsider Joining Treaty
The Broken Chair, a statue in support of the bans on landmines and cluster munitions, stands outside the United Nations in Geneva.
 2017 Mary Wareham/Human Rights Watch

Human Rights WatchDecember 14, 2017 12:00AM EST

(New York) – Sri Lanka joined the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines on December 13, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The action is especially significant because Sri Lanka used antipersonnel mines in the past and has since undertaken an extensive, ongoing mine clearance effort.
“Sri Lanka’s accession should spur other nations that haven’t joined the landmine treaty to take another look at why they want to be associated with such an obsolete, abhorrent weapon,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – the group effort behind the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. “This should spur other countries that haven’t joined the treaty to review their position and address any obstacles to joining it.”
Sri Lanka deposited its instrument of accession to the treaty with the United Nations in New York, becoming the 163rd country to join. The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans antipersonnel landmines, and requires destruction of stockpiles, clearance of mined areas, and assistance to victims of the weapons.
Sri Lanka participated as an observer in the fast-track diplomatic Ottawa Process, which led to the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty in September 1997, but said it could not sign due to its ongoing conflict with the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northern and eastern parts of the country. Since then it has expressed its support for the humanitarian objectives of the Mine Ban Treaty and voted in favor of every annual UN General Assembly resolution on it. In December 2015, Sri Lanka announced that it was “seriously considering” joining the Mine Ban Treaty “as a matter of priority” following “a paradigm shift” in policy after the election of a new government in January 2015.
Sri Lanka reports that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Under the treaty, its stockpiled landmines must be destroyed within the next four years. The Sri Lanka army has acknowledged using antipersonnel mines in the past, while the LTTE produced and used them extensively during the armed conflict, which ended in May 2009.
After Sri Lanka’s accession, three South Asian countries have yet to join the Mine Ban Treaty: IndiaPakistan, and Nepal.
Austria will host and preside over the 16th meeting of the states parties to the treaty in Vienna during the week of December 18-21, 2017.
Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), chairs the US Campaign to Ban Landmines, and serves as ban policy editor for Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. The ICBL received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, together with its coordinator, Jody Williams, for its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty and for its contributions to a new international diplomacy based on humanitarian imperatives.
“After deliberating for almost two decades, Sri Lanka ultimately decided to get on the right side of history by relinquishing antipersonnel mines,” Goose said. “With every country that joins the treaty, the norm against these weapons only gets stronger."

3 confirmed racists who were Weerawansa’s top stooges to join Maithri –Maithri’s garbage heap swells !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 14.Dec.2017, 11.45PM) Three hard core racists – high rung members of Wimal Weerawansa ‘s NFF party joined Maithri’s  SLFP party on the 11 th. They are deputy leader of NFF , Weerakumara Dissanayake , National organizer  Piyasiri Wijenayake , and North Central provincial council member P.B. Kumara . On the 11 th forenoon they accepted the SLFP membership from president Maithripala   Sirisena at latter’s office. It is believed this group joined Maithri when a the   case was filed against Weerawansa in the high court.

Prior to this ,Weerakumara after convening a media briefing declared  , in order to defeat the UNP in 2020  , both Maithri and Rajapakse groups must join .Instead of saying he would  join after accepting the policies of good governance -what was promised by Sirisena to the people on 2015-01-08   , what he indicated on the contrary was  ,  Maithripala Sirisena is the leader most suited for their (outrageous and obnoxious)  racist policies. 
It is to be noted , when the somersault political sultans were pole vaulting into Medamulana Mahinda Rajapakse camp in the past , their main slogan was ‘ we are joining to strengthen  president’s hands’. But now , what is being said by those who are joining with Maithri is ‘ Sirisena is the leader most suitable to them .‘  
Whither good governance ?

(Photograph – courtesy President’s media unit )
by     (2017-12-14 21:47:41)


By Chandra Tilake Edirisuriya-2017-12-15

The Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979 in Chapter XVIII deals, generally, with trials by High Court. On by whom trials before the High Court are to be conducted Section 193 lays down that in every trial before the High Court the prosecution shall be conducted by the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, a State Counsel or by some pleader generally or specifically authorized by the Attorney General in that behalf.

On the provision that the Attorney General may withdraw a prosecution and enter nolle prosequi, Section 194 lays down that (1) at any stage of the trial before the High Court under this Code before the return of the verdict the Attorney General may, if he thinks fit, inform the Court that he will not further prosecute the accused upon the indictment or any charge therein, and thereupon all proceedings on such indictment or charge as the case may be against the accused shall be stayed and he shall be discharged of and from the same; (2) the information under this Section may either be oral or in writing under the hand of the Attorney General; and (3) the prosecuting Counsel may with the consent of the presiding Judge at any stage of the trial before the return of the verdict withdraw the indictment or any charge

therein and thereupon all proceedings on such indictment or charge as the case may be against the accused shall be stayed and he shall be discharged of and from the same.

On the duty of the Judge upon receipt of the indictment, Section 195 lays down that upon the indictment being received in the High Court, the Judge of the High Court presiding at the sessions of the High Court holden in the judicial zone where at the trial is to be held shall (a) cause the accused to appear or to be brought before him; (b) cause a copy of the indictment with its annexes to be served on each of the accused who will be tried upon that indictment; (c) inform the accused of the date of the trial; (d) subject to the provisions of Section 403 direct the accused to execute a bond to appear in Court for his trial or by warrant addressed to the superintendent of any prison authorize the detention of the accused pending his trial; (e) cause the accused to be finger-printed and
forward the prints to the Registrar of Finger Prints for examination and report to the prosecuting State Counsel; (e e) if the indictment relates to an offence triable by a jury inquire from the accused whether or not he elects to be tried by a jury; (f) where trial is to be by a jury direct the accused to elect from which of the respective panel of jurors the jury shall be taken for his trial and inform him that he shall be bound by and may be tried according to the election so made; and (g) where the accused on being asked by Court so requests, assign an Attorney-at-Law for his defence.
The Code next deals with a trial by a Judge of the High Court without a jury.

Commencement of Trial

Under the title 'Commencement of Trial' on arraignment of the accused Section 196 lays down that when the Court is ready to commence the trial the accused shall appear or be brought before it and the indictment shall be read and explained to him and he shall be asked whether he is guilty or not guilty of the offence charged.

On the plea of guilty Section 197 lays down that if the accused pleads guilty and it appears to the satisfaction of the Judge that he rightly comprehends the effect of his plea, the plea shall be recorded on the indictment and he may be convicted thereon.

On refusal to plead or plea of not guilty Section 198 lays down that if the accused does not plead or if he pleads not guilty, he shall be tried.

On the requirement for the Counsel to open his case and call witnesses, Section 199 lays down that (1) the trial shall commence by the prosecuting Counsel stating his case to the Court; it has to be mentioned that the prosecution is duty bound to address Court; (2) the witnesses for the prosecution shall then be examined; this consists of examination-in-chief, cross-examination and re-examination; (3) all statements of the accused recorded in the course of the inquiry in the Magistrate's Court, if there had been one, shall be put in and read in evidence before the close of the case for the prosecution;(4) it shall be lawful for the Court to call any witnesses not called by the prosecution if the interests of justice so require but such witnesses should be tendered for cross-examination by the prosecuting Counsel and by the accused; and (5) the accused shall be permitted to cross-examine all witnesses called for the prosecution.

On the provision that the Court may acquit without calling for defence or call for defence Section 200 lays down that (1) when the case for the prosecution is closed, if the Judge wholly discredits the evidence on the part of the prosecution or is of opinion that such evidence fails to establish the commission of the offence charged against the accused in the indictment or of any other offence of which he might be convicted on such indictment, he shall record a verdict of acquittal; if however the Judge considers that there are grounds for proceeding with the trial he shall call upon the accused for his defence; and (2) if the accused or his pleader announces his intention to adduce evidence, the prosecuting Counsel may address the Court a second time in support of his case for the purpose of summing up the evidence against the accused.

On the provision that the accused may make his defence Section 201 lays down that (1) if the accused or his pleader announces his intention to adduce evidence, the accused or his pleader may enter upon his defence and may examine his witnesses (if any) and the accused or his pleader may sum up his case; and (2) the prosecuting Counsel will be entitled to cross-examine all the witnesses called by the defence to testify on oath or affirmation.

Witnesses in rebuttal

On when the prosecuting Counsel is entitled to call witnesses in rebuttal, Section 202 lays down that if any evidence is adduced on behalf of the accused the prosecuting Counsel, may with the leave of the Judge, call witnesses in rebuttal. If the prosecution is taken by surprise, for instance, if the defence of alibi is taken, witnesses in rebuttal may be called.

On the requirement for the Judge to pass judgment Section 203 lays down that when the cases for the prosecution and the defence are concluded, the Judge shall forthwith or within ten days of the conclusion of the trial record a verdict of acquittal or conviction giving his reasons therefor and if the verdict is one of conviction pass sentence on the accused according to law.

Under the head trial by jury before the High Court and sub-head commencement of trial on arraignment of the accused Section 204 lays down that when the Court is ready to commence the trial the accused shall appear or be brought before it and the indictment shall be read and explained to him and he shall be asked whether he is guilty or not guilty of the offence charged. In Samaranayake v Grenier (1957) 58 NLR 424 Sansoni J quoted with approval the statement that "Arraignment is the bringing of a prisoner to the bar of the Court to answer the matter charged against him in the indictment. The arraignment of a prisoner consists of three parts, (1) calling him to the bar and, by holding up his hand or otherwise, making it appear that he is the party indicated. Holding up the hand is a mere ceremony, and is frequently dispensed with, it only being necessary for the prisoner to admit that he is the person specified in the indictment; (2) reading the indictment to him distinctly, so that he may fully understand the charge; and (3) demanding whether he is guilty or not guilty".
On the provision that the plea of guilty may be recorded and the accused convicted thereon, Section 205 lays down that if the accused pleads guilty and it appears to the satisfaction of the Judge that he rightly comprehends the effect of the plea, the plea shall be recorded on the indictment and he may be convicted thereon: Provided that the indictment so pleaded to is one of murder the Judge may refuse to receive the plea and cause the trial to proceed in like manner as if the accused person had pleaded not guilty.

On the refusal to plead Section 206 lays down that if the accused does not plead or if he pleads not guilty or if in the circumstances set out in the proviso to Section 205, the Judge refuses to receive the plea jurors shall be chosen to try the case as hereinafter provided.

Accused pleads not guilty

On when the accused pleads not guilty or is willing to plead guilty to a lesser offence Section 207 lays down that if the accused pleads not guilty but states that he is willing to plead guilty to a lesser offence for which he might have been convicted on that indictment and the prosecuting Counsel is willing to accept such plea, the Judge may if he thinks that the interests of justice will be satisfied by so doing, order such plea of guilty to be recorded and may pass judgment thereon accordingly, and thereupon the accused shall be discharged of the offence laid in the indictment and such discharge shall amount to an acquittal.

Our law makes no special provision for the acceptance of the plea of guilty in regard to a lesser offence, after the jurors have been sworn, says Prof. G.L. Peiris in his work 'Criminal Procedure in Sri Lanla'. Nevertheless, he says, in the case of Dias Appuhamy (1955) 58 NLR 49, Basnayake ACJ delivering the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal, stated: "It has been the practice for a considerable length of time to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser offence when tendered in the course of a trial even after the accused has been placed in charge of the jury".

Prof. Peiris goes on to say that the appropriate procedure in this situation was laid down in the case of Sittampalam (1951) 52 NLR 374. This may be summarized as follows: (i)if the prosecution is not prepared to accept the plea of guilty in respect of the lesser offence, the case against the accused should proceed on the whole indictment; (ii) if, on the other hand, prosecution intimates its willingness to accept the plea, the presiding Judge must himself decide whether it would be in the interests of justice for the Court to accept the plea; (iii) if the presiding Judge notwithstanding the prosecution's willingness to accept the plea, decides that it should not be accepted by the Court, the case against the accused must proceed on the whole indictment; (iv) if on the other hand, the Judge considers that the plea may properly be accepted by the Court, he should invite the jury in whose charge the accused has been given after they were empanelled to try the case, to state whether they would accept the plea, and the Judge may inform the jury at this stage of the reasons why acceptance of the plea is recommended by him; and (v) if the jury state that they are willing to return a verdict on that basis, the unqualified admission of guilt of the accused should, if this has not already been done, be recorded in the presence of the Judge and jury, and this admission becomes additional evidence on which the jury may act. The jury should then be directed to pronounce a verdict accordingly.

Corruption and Complicity: Perceptions from across Sri Lanka

Discussions around corruption and its prevalence often focus on the highest echelons of power. In Sri Lanka, irregularities around the Central Bank bond issue continue to make the news – with the President most recently extending the term of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry until December 31. Fewer people would think of the Rs 1000 slipped to a policeman during a routine traffic stop – and the vicious cycle it creates. In 2017, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) received over 2000 complaints, the majority of them corruption-related. Yet, of the cases that went to Court, 42 of the 62 cases filed were related to bribesGroundviews set out to ask people a simple question: What did the word corruption mean to them? Following on from this, did people recognise their own complicity in corruption when, for instance, paying a bribe? The responses, compiled across Jaffna, Ampara, Colombo, Deniyaya and Maskeliya, illustrated the many forms that corruption could take. In some instances, there was resignation, even a certain wry acknowledgment of complicity, in others, fear, reticence or anger.
View this article, compiled on Adobe Spark, here, or below:

Editor’s Note: Also read “The Crackdown on Corruption” and “Examining Facets of Corruption in Sri Lanka“.

Russia restricts tea supplies from SL after finding beetle

Russia will place temporary restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea, from Dec. 18, the Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Thursday.
The watchdog said it had taken the decision to impose restrictions after it found an insect, known as the Khapra beetle, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka.
Tea from Sri Lanka accounts for 23 percent of Russia’s tea market, with other supplies come from India, Kenya, China and Vietnam, Ramaz Chanturiya, the head of the Rusteacoffee association, was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.
Members of Rusteacoffee, an association of Russian tea producers, will ask Rosselkhoznadzor to resume tea imports from Sri Lanka but with tougher controls, he added.
Russia imported 141,300 tonnes of tea worth $436 million in the first 10 months of 2017, according to customs data. (Reuters)

2017 a decisive year; what’s in store for 2018?

logoFriday, 15 December 2017

‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’ is be the goal of the World Bank and the IMF in 2018.

In the last 12 months the global context has changed dramatically after Donald Trump became President of the United States. Many political issues have re-emerged on multiple fronts with wide-ranging political, economic and social consequences. Russia-USA tensions are no longer just a relic of the Cold War. Economic prosperity and social cohesion are not one and the same. The UN can no longer protect the world unity or heal itself.

Chinese President Xi Jinping greeting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Davos in 2017. China is key to our future economic prosperity, managing that relationship requires skill and maturity

Politically, new and divisive narratives are transforming governance. Economically, policies are being formulated to preserve the benefits of global integration while limiting shared obligations such as sustainable development, inclusive growth and managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Globally, citizens yearn for responsive leadership; yet, a collective purpose remains elusive despite ever-expanding social and political networks.

All the while, the social contract between states, religious institutions and their citizens continues to erode. Therefore religious leaders are looking to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to develop a shared narrative to improve the state of the world.

Given Donald Trump’s ‘belligerent’ approach to North Korea the risks posed to global economy should not be ignored. High asset prices, rapid credit growth in China, political turmoil in Catalonia and a cliff-edge Brexit are key risks to an improving global outlook.

The International Monetary Fund has also said the global economy’s recent recovery may not last, despite a pickup in activity in all western countries, except the UK. Therefore for many emerging markets, 2018 would be a very decisive year.

For Sri Lanka, given the tough oversees economic outlook and the huge debt portfolio, it’s either a saga of gloom or bloom, but from a more realistic view for Sri Lanka, it could be a balance of the two. What happens inside Sri Lanka between now and June will really determine the future direction of Sri Lanka for the next five years.

2018 outlook

Sri Lanka in 2018 needs to arrest the trend of lower foreign investment, slow growth in manufacturing, declining exports, a large trade deficit, balance of payments difficulties and low foreign exchange reserves. We will be compelled to borrow from foreign sources to repay our foreign debt obligations. According to banking sources interest rates are expected to largely remain at current levels, a corresponding drop in demand for credit in the private sector is therefore expected.

In addition to the challenges on the financial sector, the slowdown in credit activity for construction is expected, and with Sri Lanka poised to become a regional and an international services hub, there would be new opportunities for public-private partnerships. A continued high-interest environment may also spark a rise in bad debt, with an increase risk in commercial real estate financing and consumer housing loans. We would certainly see new life and general buoyancy in capital markets if the regulators can get the right balance.

Sri Lanka’s annual growth pace is expected to pick up from the previous year, boosted by services, stronger manufacturing activity, agricultural growth and a pickup in domestic demand. However, like other South Asian countries, Sri Lanka too is vulnerable to political developments in the Middle East, given the reliance of South Asia on imported crude oil and employment.

Private sector

As Sri Lankan enterprises improve their governance structures, risk and compliance policies and practices, they will be better positioned to seek alternative sources of funding overseas. Easier access to capital abroad will increase competitive pressure in the domestic banking sector.

Furthermore, in light of the move to create an enabling environment for business to create larger and stronger institutions that are well-capitalised, with strong regional presence, the private sector would derive scale benefits with regard to operational cost and also be able to participate in large projects to a greater degree than now.

Challenge for Sri Lanka

The big political challenge for Sri Lanka in 2018 is when Sri Lanka returns to Geneva to answer for ‘collateral damage’ which unfortunately is the futile aspect of war, the other big challenge Sri Lanka is faced with is significant revenue shortfalls.

However, with all the cards in his hand the President and also the Prime Minister together should not let lesser ideals stop Sri Lanka becoming the great new entrepot of the Asia Pacific in its own right with many Western nations now standing steadfastly on our side; moreover, given the Chinese involvement in the Hambantota Port and Industrial Park and India taking over the Mattala Airport.

Then one of the biggest concerns for the world economy is that the Chinese bubble has begun to pop. The Chinese economy that grew by an extraordinary amount over the past few decades is slowing down, it is only a matter of time before China starts tightening its belt for Overseas Development Aid (ODA). Therefore, if the Chinese economy looks inward, the troubles persist in Europe, and if Trump decides to strike, it is very likely to drag the rest of the world down.

In addition, turmoil in the Middle East could adversely affected many developing countries which depend on worker remittance. So countries like Sri Lanka would need to look elsewhere for low cost capital to fund their mega infrastructure development projects and to export.

Therefore all the stakeholders must get together at the start of the year, to ensure targeted structural reforms are in place to attract foreign direct investment and expand the economy’s capacity to absorb new technology. And certainly export manufacturing can re-shape the economy in 2018.

(The writer is a thought leader.)