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, March 24, 2017

UN condemns Sri Lanka over war probe


UN rights chief suggests Colombo's persistent failure to investigate atrocities stems from fear of punishing soldiers.

According to the UN, as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians may have died in the last few months of the fighting [AP: File]
According to the UN, as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians may have died in the last few months of the fighting [AP: File]

22 Mar 2017

The United Nations has condemned Sri Lanka's government for failing to investigate civil war-era atrocities, suggesting the government was afraid of punishing soldiers who committed abuses during the conflict.
The world body had previously accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly ethnic Tamils, in the last weeks of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.

Government troops were accused of deliberately shelling civilians, hospitals, and blocking food and medical aid to hundreds of thousands of people boxed inside a tiny strip of land as the now-defeated Tamil Tigerrebels mounted their last stand.
"The consistent failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish serious crimes appears to reflect a broader reluctance or fear to take action against members of the security forces," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the UN rights council on Wednesday.
"At the centre of all this are the victims," he said. "There can never be sustainable peace without justice for them."
Zeid and the council have repeatedly called for international judges to help investigate possible war crimes in efforts to guarantee impartiality.
But earlier this month, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena rejected the appeal, saying he would not "allow non-governmental organisations to dictate how to run my government", nor heed calls to "to prosecute my troops".
And although Sirisena's government agreed to the terms of an October 2015 UN resolution calling for an inquiry to be formed within 18 months, Sri Lanka has so far failed to begin an inquiry. 
Zeid said any justice mechanism set up by Colombo would need foreign judges in order to be "credible".
Sirisena, a member of the majority Sinhalese community, received the support of the Tamil minority after promising accountability for abuses carried out by the largely Sinhalese military.
But Sri Lanka's main opposition Tamil party has accused Sirisena of failing to deliver on accountability.
According to the UN and independent watchdogs, as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians died in the last few months of the fighting.
In all, some 80,000 to 100,000 are believed to have died during civil war.

UK wants resolution calling for foreign judges fully implemented



 

article_imageThe UK has urged Sri Lanka to take tangible measures to ensure meaningful devolution through constitutional reforms, establish credible transitional justice mechanisms, return all remaining military-held private land and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act with human rights compliant legislation during ongoing Geneva sessions.

British High Commission in Colombo on Thursday night issued the following statement made in Geneva on the previous day by UK representative: "We welcome the co-sponsorship of the new UN Human Rights Council resolution by the Government of Sri Lanka, which reaffirms commitments made in resolution 30/1 in October 2015, for the next two years. By co-sponsoring a new resolution the Government of Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment to human rights, accountability and reconciliation, as important elements of a lasting political settlement for all Sri Lanka’s communities. 

As the report of the Office of the High Commissioner notes, there have been some improvements made to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka since January 2015.  We recognise that further progress is needed and believe that continued support and encouragement from the international community, including through the UN Human Rights Council, will be an important factor in delivering this.

We join the High Commissioner in recognising the steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka since January 2015 to improve the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the restoration of important democratic checks and balances, improvements in respect for freedoms of expression and movement, the return of some military-held land, the passing of legislation to establish an Office for Missing Persons, the ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the initiation of a process of constitutional reform.

However, as the High Commissioner’s report clearly states, much remains to be done.  We encourage the government to take the steps necessary to deliver fully on the commitments it made when co-sponsoring resolution 30/01 and to develop and communicate a comprehensive and time bound implementation strategy.  In particular, we encourage the Government to deliver meaningful devolution through constitutional reform, establish credible transitional justice mechanisms, return all remaining military-held private land and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act with human rights compliant legislation.

We also welcome the work of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms and encourage the Sri Lankan government to give due consideration to its recommendations.

In November 2015, the UK committed £6.6 million over three years to support Sri Lanka’s ambitious reform agenda.  This includes work on police reform and training, defence engagement, support to the UN’s work on reconciliation and peace building, inter-religious dialogue and mediation, capacity building on anti-bribery and the fight against corruption, and demining in the north of the country.

The UK and the wider international community are helping support Sri Lankan government efforts to implement its commitments on reconciliation, accountability, human rights and a political settlement that delivers equitable and just governance for all Sri Lankans."

Jaffna Awaits The Silent Killer: Chronic Kidney Disease


Colombo Telegraph
By Annahl Anbini Hoole –March 24, 2017 
Annahl Anbini Hoole, MD
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a non-communicable disease that affects 10% of the global population to some degree, but goes undiagnosed till the later, more dangerous stages when symptoms appear. Numbers are rising disproportionately in Sri Lanka, especially of CKD of unknown etiology (CKDu – meaning no one knows the cause).
The Sri Lankan Government therefore set up a Presidential Task Force on CKDu in 2014. Although it was thought to affect mostly older, male agricultural workers who are chronically exposed to pesticides and other chemicals, there is now an increase in cases among children and females. With more than 15% of the population in the North Central and Uva Provinces affected, CKDu is now spreading to the Northern, Eastern, North Western, Central, and Southern Provinces.
To prepare the people in the Northern Province, the Lions’ Club has come forward to raise awareness and has begun a fund to help people. They also organized this public health awareness seminar on CKD at the District Secretariat Auditorium in Nallur on March 15, 2017.
Lion R. Rakini, Lions’ Club Nallur President delivered the welcome address and Lion Dr. V. Thiyagarajah, the 306 B1 Centennial District Governor, gave the keynote address and distributed informational leaflets.
The Kidneys:
We all have two kidneys that are about the size of your fist and lie in the middle of your back on either side of your spine. The kidneys’ main jobs are to filter our blood by removing waste products and extra water through urine. They help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and maintain healthy bones.  They also filter out waste products from our food, drink, medicines, and breakdowns from muscular activity. 
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD):
In CKD, the kidneys are damaged and cannot complete their job. It happens over the course of 5 stages, with symptoms not showing until later stages. As the stages progress your blood pressure might increase, you might have low red blood cells (anemia), weak bones, a change in urine and its output, swelling feet, fatigue, and back pain. These can eventually lead to kidney failure and death. There has been a 134% increase in deaths resulting from CKD worldwide, with incidence of end stage renal disease more than doubled at the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna in 2012-2015. Dr. V.G. Rajeev (Regional Epidemiologist), standing in for Dr. Nanthakumar, Regional Director of Health Services, pointed out that deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (like heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease) now surpass those by other non-communicable diseases (like dengue and malaria).
From left to right: Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran, Dr. T. Saththiyamoorthy, Mr. Alvapillai Siri,  Dr. V. Thiyagarajah, Mr. V.Niranjan, Dr. V. Rajeev, Dr. Ranga Weerakkody
Prevention:
Dr. T. Peranantharajah, Consultant Physician for the Teaching Hospital gave a folksy, entertaining talk on prevention. Along with regular checkups with your doctor, a healthy lifestyle can prevent you from getting kidney diseases, manage your risk factors, and slow down the progression of kidney disease. He talked about the importance of managing what you put into your body. Poor eating habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, and obesity are all associated with kidney disease. Dr. Peranantharajah recommended a whole-grain (preferably vegetarian) diet, with lots of non-chemically treated fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables and less sodium, sugar, and red meats. He condemned white foods except milk. Another important lifestyle change is increasing our physical activity. As he says “Our society is plagued by an addiction to cereals: we start our day with cereals, then come home after work and plunk ourselves in front of our  TV set watching mega-serials.”

UN urges Sri Lanka to investigate civil war atrocities

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an oral report on the situation in Sri Lanka on Wednesday as the global institution weighs whether to extend the deadline for addressing crimes committed during the civil war.

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MARCH 23, 2017 Though Sri Lanka’s government has made progress on investigating abuses perpetrated during the country’s decades-long civil war, much remains to be done, the United Nations indicated Wednesday.

Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported on the situation in Sri Lanka still dealing with the aftermath of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. He and other speakers from UN member states applauded the progress that has been made, particularly by civil society organizations. For its part, the government has returned some military-held land (and plans to return more under the new Right To Information Act), passed legislation to establish an Office of Missing Persons, and started a process of constitutional reform. 

But this progress falls far short of what the world body expected in October 2015 when it passed a resolution calling for Sri Lanka to open an inquiry within 18 months. For Mr. Al Hussein, moving forward demands international involvement to restore trust in the justice system. He indicated that victims are also supportive of this kind of international participation.
 
“It is important for the country's future to send the signal that impunity is no longer tolerated,” he said, describing foreign judges, lawyers, and investigators as key to the effort to restore the country’s judicial system.

The country’s decades-long civil war pitted government forces, most of whom came from the Sinhalese ethnic majority, against a rebel group, the Tamil Liberation Tigers. The group was founded after the Sri Lankan government declared Sinhala the national language and Buddhism the state religion, a move that offended the Tamil, a Hindu minority with their own language. The Tigers later emerged as an insurgent group.
The fighting formally ended in 2009, though tensions have persisted ever since. Despite international calls for an investigation, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, which defeated the Tigers, refused to cooperate. The current government, headed by Maithripala Sirisena, came to power in January 2015, and the international community was optimistic that the new government would be more willing to prosecute abuses.

But that cooperation hasn’t materialized. Although President Sirisena, a member of the majority Sinhalese community, won the support of the Tamil minority by promising accountability, he has been slow to pursue investigations and reluctant to allow international involvement. Earlier this month, Mr. Sirisena said he would not "allow non-governmental organizations to dictate how to run my government,” or bow to pressure to “prosecute my troops,” Al Jazeera reported.

That’s indicative of a deeper problem, commissioner Al Hussein said Wednesday.

"The consistent failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish serious crimes appears to reflect a broader reluctance or fear to take action against members of the security forces," he told the UN council on Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera.
 
Among the abuses the UN would like to see investigated are the alleged deaths of thousands of civilians in the final days of the civil war. Government troops are accused of deliberately shelling civilians and denying ordinary people access to food and medical care. In all, between 80,000 and 100,000 people are believed to have lost their lives during the war.

“There is clearly a need for unequivocal instructions to all branches of the security forces that any such conduct is unacceptable and that abuses will be punished,” Al Hussein said.

In their remarks after the presentation, Sri Lankan officials pointed out the progress the country has made and indicated a commitment to moving forward.
 
“Although much has been done, there is much still left to do, including strengthening our institutions and achieving economic progress,” said Harsha De Silva, deputy minister of foreign affairs. 

TNA TO MONITOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UN RECOMMENDATIONS AND TJ PROCESS IN SRI LANKA

The ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ Garb of Sri Lanka’s Elusive Witness Protection Authority - Kishali Pinto Jayawardena
Sri Lanka Brief





24/03/2017

TNA while welcoming the adoption of UNHRC resolution 34/L 1 which reaffirms the full implementation of resolution 30/1 of 2015, promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, says that  as the elected representatives of the Tamil speaking people, it reiterates its commitment to closely engage with and monitor the implementation of the UN recommendations and other proposed processes related to reconciliation and transitional justice in Sri Lanka.
Full text of the statement:

Statement on the Adoption of Resolution 34/L 1, at the UN Human Rights Council

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) welcomes the adoption of UNHRC resolution 34/L 1 which reaffirms the full implementation of resolution 30/1 of 2015, promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

The TNA also welcomes the fact that resolution 34/L 1, gives specific time frames for the Government of Sri Lanka and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the successful implementation of the 30/1 resolution at the 37th and 40th UNHRC sessions respectively in 2018 and 2019.

We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to honor its commitment with regard to these resolutions and implement the same in letter and spirit. In keeping with its commitments, we also urge the government to sincerely address the issues of land release, the detention of Tamil political prisoners, grievances of the families of missing persons, and the enactment of constitutional reforms.

The Tamil people have reached their limits of tolerance, and urge that their deprivation and suffering on these several issues be brought to an early end.

We welcome the continued engagement and assistance of the international community in achieving the aforesaid. The TNA, as the elected representatives of the Tamil speaking people, reiterates its commitment to closely engage with and monitor the implementation of the UN recommendations and other proposed processes related to reconciliation and transitional justice in Sri Lanka.

The UN and the Human Rights Council and the International Community, we submit, should also take all necessary actions to ensure that the benefits of the implementation of the UN resolution are derived by the people who have been victims.
(24 March, 2017)
Don’t turn justice into a fast-moving comedy


2017-03-25
At a national and international level, important factors such as the restoration of judicial independence, the independence of the police and the rule of law have been important factors in restoring Sri Lanka’s image and relationships for more trade and aid. However, certain parties or groups appear to be trying to undermine this or make it a political drama.   
One such case is the arrest and remand, since January,of National Freedom Front leader and parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa. The charge is that while he was a Minister in the Rajapaksa regime he had misused about 40 government vehicles and thereby caused a loss of about Rs.90 million. Mr. Weerawansa is alleging his arrest and remand are acts of political revenge. Based on this he and his joint opposition appear to be producing political drama after drama and at times  are getting far too much publicity for it.   
Earlier this month, Mr. Weerawansa walked into parliament proudly displaying his handcuffs and later there was a ceremony to mark his 47th birthday. The guests included former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. The same week a major controversy erupted over the appeal made by the NFF to function as an independent party in parliament. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya after consultations with party leaders including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s senior vice President Nimal Siripala de Silva, disallowed the appeal on the basis that the NFF had contested the August 2015 general election on the United People’s Freedom Alliance ticket. The Speaker’s ruling caused pandemonium and behaviour that bordered on hooliganism. Eventually the Speaker imposed a week’s suspension on joint opposition leader and veteran parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena.  
 This week we saw a new episode in the Weerawansa political drama. On Wednesday he announced he was launching a hunger strike to protest against what he saw as political revenge. On the sidelines Mr. Weerawansa’s teenage daughter who also joined in going on a hunger strike herself has now been admitted to hospital.   
Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe referring to the issue in Parliament on Thursday made it clear that the President, the Prime Minister or the law and order Minister had nothing to do with  Mr. Weerawansa’s arrest and remand. That is how it should be because the police, its investigative units and the judiciary are independent and there is no need for them to even inform government leaders of their decision to arrest Mr. Weerawansa. It is also clear that the Magistrate Courts or the High Courts should not and do not act on any political guidance or influence though it is known to have happened even in the Supreme Court during the worst days of the former regime. The courts are now independent and take decisions on evidence placed before them by the police, prosecuting counsel and the defence counsel.   
 On Friday, Mr. Weerawansa’s lawyers made another move to get him out on bail. They went to the Fort Magistrate’s Court, this time citing Mr. Weerawansa’s daughter’s admission to hospital as the reason for bail. Some legal analysts are calling it a fast move.   
Whatever be the case, we urge government and opposition party politicians to respect the independence of the judiciary, the police and the rule of law. This is one of the pillars of democracy and provide the checks and balances for the democratic process to work well. Mr. Weerawansa and other politicians need to be made aware that if other remanded prisoners also decide to go on hunger strikes demanding bail, the law might become a fasting ass with little more than skin and bone.   
With media independence also restored to a large extent, media groups need to be aware that rights are linked to responsibilities and if we fail in our responsibilities we might have to forfeit our rights. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that there is no abuse of media freedom by giving far too much publicity to what happens outside a court of law or commission of inquiry while giving little publicity to more important matters that are taken up in these cases. If populism or any form of extremism is bad in politics so is it for the media and we need to maintain ethics and principles and be the voice of voiceless while campaigning for justice and equality.

New Unit under Ministry of Education to promote Social Cohesion and Reconciliation among School children


LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -24.March.2017, 11.30PM) The Ministry of Education has established a new Peace Education and Reconciliation Unit (PERU) which will lead the Ministry's efforts to create awareness on reconciliation among hundreds of thousands of students in Sri Lanka.
 
Addressing a Press Conference held in Colombo today, Former President Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Chairperson of Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasa, Minister of Education and Mr Sunil Hettiarachchi, Secretary of the Ministry of Education, briefed the media on the role of the new unit, efforts by the Ministry to foster reconciliation and the need of reconciliation in building a united Sri Lanka.
 
The Ministry of Education, Provincial Councils and ONUR are already working on several initiatives related to peace and reconciliation including Sahodara Paasal / Paadasalai student leadership programme, cultural and religious diversity celebrations, collaboration in educational reforms process and training of teacher resource pools on reconciliation.
 
The challenges and opportunities in this sphere was discussed at length during a planning workshop attended by Ministry Officials, Provincial Education Officials, UNICEF, ONUR and other stakeholders which was held prior to the press briefing. In addition to this an Action Plan on social cohesion activities in schools at provincial level was formulated at the workshop.
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by     (2017-03-24 22:48:20)

The Wealthy Ignoring The Poor Are Not Worthy Of Their Wealth


Colombo TelegraphBy Lankamithra –March 24, 2017
“The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim…is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.”  ~ George Orwell, 1984
Arguments for social justice can never be foreclosed. From great economists to social scientists, our history shows, have argued the case for social justice from time immemorial. And great minds of ancient India, China, Greece and the Middle East up to the twenty first century, whether as part and parcel of their religious teachings or as a fundamental basis of the socio-economic dialogue, have accepted this notion of social justice as ‘justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society’. When justice as per its definition, ‘the quality of being fair and reasonable’, is juxtaposed in the broader definition of social justice, one unvaryingly finds other related notions such as equality, equal distribution, egalitarianism and so forth and so on.
One simply cannot ignore that social justice, is essentially intertwined with providing a social net for those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder in society. Unregulated capitalism or crony-capitalism as is practiced in developing countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and India and Bangladesh will unquestionably lead to creating a wide gulf between the rich and the poor. That gulf is the fertile ground for trade union-protests, social indignation, student unrest and communal riots instigated by fringe groups robed in saffron. The poorest of the poor, when see no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, are easy to be catapulted from social slumber to violent uprising. This social dynamic is the one single vibrancy that is threatening the stability in Sri Lanka and its unhindered economic development.
This widening gulf between the rich and the poor is a symptom that signifies a severe socio-economic malaise. Yet no long-lasting solution has been discovered nor has any serious attempt being made by politicians to secure a more acceptable socio-economic system. Man has to be content with the ever-ongoing attempts at solutions. That, in a context of a contemporary event, is extremely hard. Historians will analyze, dissect and discover a significant and compelling reason or reasons for an event to occur, yet in a contemporary setting that exercise is almost next to impossible.
Apart from the religious leaders such as Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus Christ, Mohamed, Moses and the unknown authors of the Upanishads, it was Chanakya, the chief advisor to Emperor Chandragupta of ancient India and the first social scientist in history, who gave articulated the notion of political-economic realities and their interaction with society.  He wrote ‘Arthashastra’ (political economics), explaining the predominant features of the State and its fundamental functions, the duties of the King and sub-Kings etc. Chanakya perhaps is the only personality who has been accepted and revered as a genius both by Indian and Western scholars. Nevertheless, neither Chanakya nor his successors from Machiavellian to Karl Marx, Engels and modern economists and social scientists have failed to offer a solution to humanity’s nagging problem of the widening gap between the richest and poorest classes of any society.
Against this historic backdrop, Sri Lanka’s present stagnant economy, its divergent political immobility and its fast-spreading social sickness with corruption and dishonesty at the forefront, the exercise of narrowing of this gap between the richest and the poorest looks a pipedream. After obtaining Independence, with each successive government, the country’s economy seemed to have gone backwards except in the period of 1977 to 1994. The economic boom that took place during that period is due to many reasons. Among them are:
  1. Winning five sixths majority for the UNP in parliament and thereby ensuring overwhelming affirmation by the legislature for Prime Minister/President J R Jayewardene.
  2. Unshackling of the economy that was held hostage to the vagaries of State-controls and creating a free-market economy
  3. Presence of some heavy-hitting Cabinet Ministers in the caliber of R Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Ronnie de Mel, Nissanka Wijeyratne and A C S Hammed
  4. Cohesiveness of the government ranks with minimum of cracks within
  5. Last but not least, strong and sturdy leadership at the helm – J R J
It is not fair by both parties to compare, one against the other. But the inescapable fact is Sri Lanka does not seem to have those giants of men and women anymore. Not at the official level, nor at the politico level. It is indeed a great tragedy. Despite a war going on in the North and East, the country’s trek towards economic development did not suffer a bit. The free market economy’s beneficial effects started manifesting themselves all over the country. Emergence of a vibrant middle class was visible. Advent of color television, introduction of the three wheeler culture- of course to the great detriment of smoother operation of traffic in the current context- availability of goods and services which existed only in the wildest dreams of Lankans prior to ’77,  they all changed dramatically the way of life of every Sri Lankan. With all these good-effects also came the plague of prostitution, karaoke bars, and massage parlors-inevitable harbingers of decadence.
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March 24, 2017
Former Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption Ms. Dilrukshi Dias Wickremesinghe had to leave the position not due to any weakness in her duties but due to a political reason says the Chief Whip of the Opposition JVP Parliamentarian Anura Dissanayaka.
When Ms. Dilrukshi Wickremesinghe was made to resign investigations in connection with a powerful minister of the government and a state minister, who had also served as ministers of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, had begun said Mr. Dissanayaka speaking in Parliament on Thursday (23rd). He said investigations against a son of a MP who acted with the powers of a minister too had commenced when Ms. Wickremesinghe had to leave the post.
Mr. Dissanayaka said a case against the former first lady was about to be filed after investigations regarding a complaint against her had been completed and added only one case has been filed after the resignation of the former Director General of the Bribery Commission.
100 complaints lodged before the FCID have been withdrawn said Mr. Anura Dissanayaka adding that handing over complaints to FCID has been stopped at present.
Frauds and corruption committed behind the war should be revealed to the country said Mr. Dissanayaka participating in the Parliamentary debate on a resolution to increase funds to carry out raids by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.

Campus Torture


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by H. L. Seneviratne- 

Professor A. N. I Ekanayaka deserves our gratitude for his perceptive analysis and forthright condemnation (The Island, March 15, 2017) of the barbaric culture of ragging that has been afflicting our universities for a long time. Few would disagree with Professor Ekanayaka’s statement that there is no "decent" of "mild" ragging, and all ragging should be eliminated root and branch. Ragging is no different from any other form of oppression of the weak by the strong, and thus, a rag-free educational environment is a human right. We already have a law against raggingin our law books, but it’s not news to anybody that there is no rule of law in our resplendent land.

While we are a society with the trappings of modernity, in many spheres of thought and action, we are a feudal society. It is infeudal societies that the severity of punishment for a crime varies inversely with the perpetrator’s social status – the higher the criminal’s social status, the lighter the punishment and vice versa. We see this almost daily in alleged criminals who are power figures checking in to hospitals no sooner than they are remanded. Although individual students may not be power figures, the rag mafia within campuses is a power of considerable clout -- it is the handmaiden of political parties--so it is in keeping with their direct or indirect power that they can rag innocent freshmen to death, sometimes literally,and still get away with it.

The culture of ragging is an extension of the political culture, which since about independence has been on a steep downward path to moralbankruptcy, dragging the society along with it towards a more general bankruptcy. This has now become pervasive, afflicting every institution, structure and process in our society. Thus, we do find a difference in the degree of depravity between the ragging culture of about the 1950s and today. The change towards increasingly uglier raggingwas gradual, but runs parallel to the enthronement of "our culture" in 1956, and more directly, to the abandonment of English as the medium of instruction, which has functioned to narrow both the world view and employment prospects of graduates.

We see other parallels that illustrate the general malaise afflicting the society, of which the ragging culture is only a symptom. The big talk about eradication of ragging parallels the big talk about the eradication of dengue fever. Both reflect a societal illness as do many other phenomena, like the culture of the country’s highest institution, the parliament. Supposedly a forum of dignified discussion and exchange of ideas, it is in fact a marketplace of fishmongers shouting obscenities at each other. As reported in the press, in addition to their salary, benefits, car permits (which they permit themselves to sell) and other perks, they also get an "attendance allowance" of some Rs. 4500 or so for each attendance in parliament, the very duty for which they are compensated with all the perks listed above in the first place. Not that parliamentarians necessarily need academic qualifications, but it is shocking that, according to press reports, some 94 or so MPs in a parliament of 225 members do not even have their O Levels. Clearly, something is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka.

The ragging culture cannot be eliminated until the society is cured of its general and systemic malaise. There was some sense that this problem was at least understood when a "good governance" regime was elected in January 2015. But increasingly it has been looking more and more like what it replaced, thereby guaranteeing itself a kick on the butt at the next election. The likely replacement can only be described as "The Horror, the Horror".

To act, the academics and university administrators do not need to wait till the society is transformed. On the contrary, as intellectuals and leaders of thought who presumably understand that the ragging culture is the symptom and not the disease, it is up to them to act as the engine that ignites the transformative process. They can take action both to treat the symptoms, and to persuade the powers to treat the disease. The former involves carrying out the existing legal provisions to deal with the ragging mafia on each campus, and the latter the use of their collective knowledge and strength to enlighten and influence the powers.

Hambantota Port Deal – Getting curious by the day

Hambantota Port Deal – Getting curious by the day
Mar 24, 2017
Nishantha Muthuhettigama sent a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena stating that the letter regarding the Concessionary Agreement on the Port of Hambantota sent by Cabinet Secretary S. Abeysinghe to the Secretary of his ministry (P&S), was contradictory to the "so called decision" taken at the Cabinet meeting. Keerthi Tennakoon Executive Director CAFFE had make a statement of this matter.
He said , The document prepared by Cabinet Secretary S.Abeysinghe states that "it was decided to grant approval to the proposal (1) in paragraph 13 of the memorandum dated 2017 -03- 17 by the minister of special assignments and chairman of the ministerial committee on development of Hambantota Port, subject to amending the concession agreement attached as annex II to the memorandum, as proposed in the note dated 2017 - 03 -21 by the minister of special assignments and the chairman of the said ministerial committee..."
However Muthuhettigama in his letter states "during the Cabinet meeting, held under your chairmanship, on 21 March, the Ministers considered the Concessionary Agreement on the Port of Hambantota sent by Minister Sarath Amunugama (17/0901/753/002) and my note (no 17/0598/737/012), as the acting Minister.”
Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) notes this development with distress because this is not the first time that there was an attempt to manipulate this deal. This also makes us question the authenticity of the cabinet decision presented to the public on Wednesday.

No transparency
We noted that State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe repeated, during the cabinet Press Briefing, that this deal will be transparent unlike the agreements made during the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. However the past behaviour of the government regarding the Hambantota Port Deal as well as the letter by Muthuhettigama, clearly indicates that the negotiating process is anything but transparent. Thus CaFFE fears that deal with between Sri Lanka and China Merchant Port Holdings Company (CM Port) might be another adverse one for the country, much like the deals under the Rajapaksa administration.
What is more striking is that Muthuhettigama’s implication that the opinions of the President has been ignored by some sections of the cabinet. 

"During the Cabinet meeting it was decided to appoint a five member Cabinet Subcommittee on the matter and to consider the two documents sent. However the letter sent by Cabinet Secretary S. Abeysinghe to the Secretary of his ministry presents a contradictory version of what transpired," he said.
President Sirisena urges caution
President Maithripala Sirisena, after considering the Concessionary Agreement of the Port of Hambantota sent by Minister Sarath Amunugama (17/0901/753/002), sent a note dated 2017 March 20th, to the Cabinet urging them to take a decision considering all the complications involved.
"When considering this document, we must keep in mind the balance of payment issues faced by the country, IMF recommendations and the discussions and agreements that we have carried out with diplomats, including Chinese officials," he said in his note. Is this recommendation, considered seriously? is one of the many questions coming out by the letter.
Cabinet press briefing
On Wednesday co cabinet spokesperson Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said that the Cabinet of ministers decided to appoint a Cabinet Subcommittee chaired by Minister of Special Assignments Sarath Amunugama to oversee the implementation of the concession agreement of the Port of Hambantota between Sri Lanka and China Merchant Port Holdings Company.
“Concession agreement of the Port of Hambantota which is to be signed between Sri Lanka and China Merchant Port Holdings Company (CMPort) in China aims at preparing future plans, financial provision, operational promotion and development of infrastructure including completed phase I and II and proposed phase III. The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to enter into the above agreement which is cleared by the Attorney General and to appoint a Cabinet Subcommittee chaired by Minister of Special Assignments Sarath Amunugama to supervise its implementation,” he said.
The PPP operator is to be capitalized with an amount of US $ 1.4 billion and CMPort is to invest 80% of the transaction value, which is US $ 1.12 billion. 

AshWaru Colombo

Lead-picSaturday, 25 March 2017
  • Follows US rate hike and stubbornly-high private sector credit
  • Says “precautionary measure” to contain inflation through credit expansion 
  • Noted improvement in fiscal operations and meeting 2016 Budget deficit target 
  • Expects inflation to moderate after adjustments to new taxes 
  • Private sector credit decelerated to 20.9% in January from 21.9% at end 2016
logoBowing to expectations, the Central Bank yesterday raised policy rates in step with the US rate hike and to buttress the economy against inflation and stubbornly-high private sector credit, following lower than expected growth numbers for 2016.

Government Trying To Water Down The Right To An Attorney


Colombo Telegraph
By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody and Faizer Shaheid –March 24, 2017
Ruwan Jayakody
Faizer Shaheid
This article has specific emphasis on the latest Bill introduced in the Parliament where the legislature seeks to limit the right of access of any person held in Police custody to an Attorney-at-Law. It craftily uses deceptive words to redirect an Attorney-at-Law to have access to a Police Officer in lieu of the suspect in Police custody.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) (Amendment) is a Bill put forward by the Ministry of Justice that seeks to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) Act, No. 2 of 2013. In the said Bill’s Statement of Legal Effect, provisions in Clause 2 state that it seeks to amend the said Act by the insertion of a Section 6A (a new Section) to it, the legal effect of which is to make provisions to ensure the rights of an Attorney-at-Law who represents a person held in Police custody.
Section 6A(1) of the proposed Bill which purports to allow for the right of an Attorney-at-Law to access a person in the custody of the Police, holds that “an Attorney-at-Law representing a person in police custody shall, from the time such person is taken into custody, be entitled to have access to the police station in which such person is being held in custody, for the purpose of meeting the officer in charge of the police station and making representations to such officer.” An Attorney-at-Law is hired to represent the interests of the client who is the suspect in custody. The client is not the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Police Station in which the suspect is being held in custody. The OIC does not and cannot be legitimately expected to represent the interests of justice (to use a phrase that appears later on in this Bill) of the suspect. Hence, there is an immediate need and direct requirement for the Attorney-at-Law to meet and conduct consultations with the suspect cum client. Section 6A(1) does not recognize the Attorney-at-Law’s right to have access to the client. This is in complete contravention of the principle of due process and the right to a fair trial, not to mention the fact that the suspect under principles of natural law is at all times presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
Section 6A(2) of the proposed Bill reads, “The right of an Attorney-at-Law, to have access to the police station, and to make representations, shall not affect the investigations that may be conducted in respect of the person being represented.” While access of an Attorney-at-Law to his/her client in the custody of a Police Officer should be permitted at all times, the right of an Attorney-at-Law should not under any circumstances impinge upon the investigations being conducted by the Police into the involvement of the suspect in the commission of any offence.
Section 6A(3) of the proposed Bill states that while any such Attorney-at-Law shall be permitted entry into the relevant Police station, s/he is to be treated cordially and courteously, and given a fair and patient hearing by the Police Officers attached to the said Police station. The words “cordially” and “courteously” are synonymous and are also not suitable for use in a legal enactment of this nature. It is also the duty of the Police Officers to give a fair hearing and exercise patience during the process of doing so.
Section 6A(4) of the proposed Bill outlines that any such Attorney-at-Law acting and appearing on behalf of the person held in Police custody, is entitled to meet the OIC of the relevant Police station and ascertain certain specified and unspecified information from the said OIC. Section 6A(4)(d) of the proposed Bill however recognizes that while the preceding provisions, respectively, Sections 6A(4)(a), 6A(4)(b) and 6A(4)(c), specify the information that can be obtained as being information pertaining to the offence alleged to have been committed by the client, information pertaining to the date, time and location of the arrest and the date, approximate time and place of production of the suspect before a Magistrate, in the case of the Attorney seeking to ascertain “any other information”, which are unspecified in the context of the proposed Bill, such would only be provided on the grounds that the revealing of such “would not adversely affect the conduct of further investigations and the interests of justice”. The phrase “interests of justice” should entail within it the interests of three parties, namely, the suspect, the victim/s, and the investigating Officers. It is also not specified in this provision as to who is vested with the power of making the value judgment and the call of deciding on as to what information, the revealing of which constitutes an adverse impact on further investigations and the interests of justice.
Section 6A(6) of the proposed Bill holds that the Attorney-at-Law “shall, if he so requests, be allowed to have access to the person in custody, unless such access is prejudicial to the investigation being conducted.” “He” should be changed to a gender neutral term. The extent of the access allowed is not specified. The provision does not define the scope of what is meant by the word ‘prejudicial’. The provision also does not illustrate or define as to who is to make the judgment call with regard to the said matter.