May 2016

Panama Papers affair set to widen as database goes online

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Panama Papers affair set to widen as database goes onlineThe Panama Papers affair is set to widen, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts due to go online. The database will be accessible from 18:00 GMT at offshoreleaks.icij.org. The Panama Papers have shown how some wealthy people use offshore firms to evade tax and avoid sanctions. The papers belonged to Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca and were leaked by a source simply known as “John Doe”. The company denies any wrongdoing. Last week it issued a “cease and desist ” order to prevent the database being made public but the organisation that has the documents, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), appears to be going ahead. The documents […]

Sampanthan calls on Tamil diaspora to participate in development of the North and East

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan called on the Tamil diaspora to take part in the development of the North and East. The Opposition Leader made this request while participating in a ceremony to open a community centre in the Thennamarawadi area of Trincomalee District built with the assistance from the Tamil diaspora in Australia, BBC Sinhala Service reported. Sampanthan said large-scale development plans in some areas of the North and East including Trincomalee can provide employment for the youth in the areas. “Experts in Singapore are showing special interest regarding the development plans and preparing the plans,” he said adding that the plans are expected to be put forward before the end of the year. He said the […]

Can’t accept the UN reviews: Government

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Minister Rajitha Senaratna stated that, the views of UN Rapporteur on tortures and detentions in Sri Lanka can’t be accepted. UN experts who visited Sri Lanka last week proposed some contradictory comments about the situation of Sri Lanka. They (UN experts) said that though the number of cases of torture were much less than during the height of the conflict, “torture remains in frequent use in Sri Lanka by CID and TID because of weak provisions in law.” In this regard Minister explained in a media briefing as follows. As soon as the new government came in to power, it strengthened the protection of civil society. And independent operations are strengthened in the North and East.  Criticisms of UN experts’ on tortures and detentions can’t be […]

Going Beyond The 13th A & Towards Cooperative Devolution

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

By Laksiri Fernando – Dr. Laksiri Fernando Discussions have started on devolution and/or federalism in the context of constitutional reforms and the present is an attempt to clarify some of the important issues in the form of ‘questions and answers.’ The purpose is to deviate from abstract debates and bring concreate substance to the discussions as far as I can contribute. Question: What do you mean by going beyond the 13th Amendment? Answer: I basically mean four things. (1) Reducing the concurrent list (2) eliminating the ambiguities between the national list and the provincial list (3) reducing the powers of the Governor and (4) creating a framework for making sufficient fiscal and administrative resources available to the provinces. Question: Why not completely replace devolution and […]

Witness In Crucial FCID Case Says CCD Officials Assaulted Him

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

An important witness in a crucial FCID case, Sarath Dissanayake, the driver of former Presidential Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath today lodged a complained with the Human Rights Commission in fear of his life, after officials of the Colombo Crimes Division(CCD) allegedly ‘abducted’ him last Thursday and assaulted him severely. Dissanayake, who is an important witness in several FCID cases in relation to monetary fraud carried out during the previous regime, claimed that the CCD officials had insisted that he takes the blame for the alleged frauds amounting to billions of rupees, instead of naming the real culprits behind the fraud. “This is the first time in history that an important witness in a financial crimes case is being attacked by the police,” Rajith Keerthi […]

Australia turns back three asylum-seeker boats

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Sydney (AFP) – Australia has intercepted three asylum-seeker boats so far this year, including one carrying women and children from Sri Lanka, the country’s immigration minister revealed on Monday. Under Canberra’s hardline measures, asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia by boat are either sent back to where they departed or to remote Pacific island camps, where living conditions have been criticised. The government has defended the policy as stopping deaths at sea. Since the start of its “Operation Sovereign Borders” in September 2013, it has managed to halt the flood of boats, and drownings, that characterised previous Labor administrations. In March, Canberra hailed 600 days with no vessels arriving, with 25 boats carrying 698 people turned back and “safely returned to their country of departure”. Immigration […]

Concerns of UN Rapporteurs

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs Monica Pinto and Juan E. Mendez have expressed their concerns over the existing legal system in the island and emphasized the need of bringing structural reforms to the key institutions such as the Attorney General’s Department, Armed Forces, Police and the Judiciary. The two UN Special Rapporteurs held a press conference in Colombo last Saturday (7) on their Sri Lankan assignment and briefed on the measures to be taken into consideration by the Sri Lanka Government towards stabilizing its legal system and improving the human rights situation in the island. UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Monica Pinto and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or […]

Do we need this kind of a May Day ?

9th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Had one compared the enthusiasm on this year’s May Day shown by the two factions of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with that of the Cuban Communist Party which is famous for its mammoth rallies on International Workers’ Day every year, he may have seen that the former had outsmarted the latter this time.  But everybody knows that this enthusiasm of the SLFP leaders was not born out of the love for the toiling masses of the country. In fact it is nothing other than the manifestation of a power struggle between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who are fighting for their political survival. Even the workers supportive of these two factions were not concerned about their own rights and plights […]

Panama Papers: Source breaks silence on Mossack Fonseca leaks

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

The anonymous source behind the leak of the Panama Papers has spoken for the first time, offering to help law authorities make prosecutions in return for immunity. In a 1,800-word statement, “John Doe” reveals he has never worked for a spy agency or a government.  He starts the statement by citing “income equality” as a motive. The Panama Papers have shown how some wealthy people use offshore firms to evade tax and avoid sanctions. The papers belonged to the Mossack Fonseca law firm. It denies any wrongdoing and says it is the victim of a hack. The papers were investigated by hundreds of investigative journalists, including from the BBC, who worked in secret with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for months. The documents […]

Repatriate Sri Lankan Tamils of Kerala Stare at Unkept Promises

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

KULATHUPUZHA (KOLLAM): “What difference does it make whether we live here or there? Life is life after all,” feels 88-year-old Anchala, an innocent smile nestling in her eyes. Ask her whether she wants to return to the land where she was born — she pauses for a moment and back comes the enigmatic smile on her wrinkled face. Anchala belongs to one of the first batches of Tamil repatriates from Sri Lanka that came to Kulathupuzha in the late 70s. The Rehabilitation Plantation Estate at Kulathupuzha, near Thenmala in Kollam, where her family of eight stays hosts around 700 families and has a voting population of close to 6,000. With elections around the corner, the repatriate Tamils from Lanka are still waiting for the promises to […]

Weeratunga flying freely with two passports: Govt. fails to ‘Red Notice’ ex-envoy

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Public anger grows over failure to prosecute politicians, officials who plundered public money More details of how the fomer diplomat dined with Rajapaksa and other Lankan businessmen in Thailand Sirisena and Rajapaksa happy with May Day turnout but widespread fear of betrayal of January 8 victory Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s former envoy to Russia — now at the centre of a probe into the acquisition of MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine and accused of supplying weapons to anti-government forces in that country — travelled to Thailand to meet former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week on a passport issued by the present United National Front (UNF) administration headed by President Maithripala Sirisena. He got his passport despite his refusal so far to hand over the diplomatic passport (D […]

Eric Solheim nominated for top UN post

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Eric Solheim nominated for top UN post by Manjula Fernando One-time peace envoy for Sri Lanka and Norwegian politician Eric Solheim has been nominated for a top UN post by UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon. The UNSG has informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Solheim as the new Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He had made the recommendation after consulting the Chairpersons of the regional groups of Member States, the UN News Centre reported. Solheim is currently the Chair of the UN’s Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a post he has held since 2013. He was Norway’s Minister for Environment and International Development between 2007 and 2012. He also served as Minister […]

Controversial Mullivaikal remembrance event to be held

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Hundreds of Tamils killed in Mullivaikal, are to be remembered at events organized by Northern Provincial Council member M.K Sivajilingham commencing from later this week. Sivajilingham said that there was an attempt to block the events but yet the events will go ahead as planned. He said that events to commemorate the Tamils killed during the final stages of the war in Mullivaikal will begin on May 12 and will be held for one week in the North and East.  Sivajilingham said the main event will be staged in Mullivaikal on May 18 with the participation of Northern Tamil politicians and family members of those killed. In the past the authorities had attempted to prevent the Mullivaikal commemoration events from being held as it was […]

With lifting of EU ban, fish exports to resume in two month’s time – Harsha

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

by Zacki Jabbar The first fish exports to the European Union would resume in about two months time, says Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva. Political integration had led to Sri Lanka reaping the benefits of economic  fusion, de Silva told a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents Association in Colombo recently.”In eight weeks time, the first consignment of fish would be exported to the European Union (EU) after a lapse of  about two years.” Sri Lanka, which was previously the second biggest exporter of fresh and chilled swordfish and tuna to the EU with exports worth EUR 74 million in 2013, was  issued with a yellow card in 2012 and listed by the EU Fisheries Council in February 2015, which it noted was due to […]

EU links Human Rights to trade: 58 conditions for GSP Plus – SL Govt NOT happy.

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Human Rights Action Plan etc. called for; talks in Brussels next week In its haste to regain the GSP Plus facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with the European Union (EU) to implement a sprawling list of 58 conditions linking human rights, national security and other domestic concerns with trade, a document obtained by the Sunday Times shows. Among the 58 conditions imposed are To revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act, To expedite cases of remaining detainees, To introduce a new Human Rights Action Plan, Review the status of the Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals on the terrorist list, To devolve power under the new Constitution, Return all private lands to owners in the North, Adopt a policy of National Reconciliation and on […]

Pro Mahinda SLFP MPs Boycott Wimal Weerawansa!

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) opposition members boycotted a meeting organized by National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa for members of the joint opposition. Weerawansa had called for the meeting to discuss future political decisions of the Joint Opposition following its May Day rally. SLFP member and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was scheduled to attend the meeting, had also informed at the eleventh hour that he will not be able to attend.

Rajapaksas are government’s chief obsession

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Rajapaksas are government’s chief obsession *May Day review *Credit rating agencies issue cautionary notes *A ‘right to withhold information’ law? From the reports and comments about last Sunday’s May Day rallies that have been appearing over the past week, it became obvious that The Island was the only newspaper or media organization that had a staffer monitoring the crowds in all three main rallies held in Colombo. This year, what was important was not the speeches being made but the crowds present at each of the May Day rallies. This writer observed the three main rallies in Colombo at their peak after 4.30 pm onwards and kept giving a running commentary to certain politically involved individuals about what we saw at the various venues. What […]

GENESIS OF THE PARLIAMENT BRAWL

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

Those were hectic days for the media as well as the whole of Sri Lanka when Minister Sarath Fonseka was dragged to jail by his junior officers, just weeks after he had led the Army into smashing the LTTE. Many sections of the people were thunder struck by the then government’s action. Trumped up charges, saw the General being dragged shamelessly to Court, and thence on to a 3- year prison sentence. Much of society was numbed by the speed with which the nation’s war hero was seen dragged bodily by minions of the government in military uniform, along the sidewalks into a van and to remand prison. The sentence saw him dragged down to the indignity meted out to a common criminal or procurer […]

Better but not the best

8th May 2016 // 0 Comments

No government anywhere in the world is lily white and it is foolish for anybody to claim otherwise. The people of Sri Lanka are well aware that this is especially true of our own governments, whatever their political complexion. When he recently met editors, publishers and electronic media heads, President Maithripala Sirisena, without naming his predecessor, did not pull his punches on the corruption and thuggery of the previous Rajapaksa regime that was well known. Sirisena hit harder than he had ever done before and this has been attributed by some analysts to the competition between the two factions of the SLFP to draw the bigger crowd for May Day. Unfortunately, even though the president invited questions at his press meeting, the media did not […]

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Accuses Rajapaksa Family Member of Orchestrating Mud Slinging Campaign Against Him By Weerawansa,Gammanpila and Sri Renga.

7th May 2016 // 0 Comments

By Harischandra Gunaratna Former Parliamentarian and ex-Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalist Sajin Vass Gunawardena yesterday said that a Rajapaksa family member had orchestrated the recent mud slinging campaign against him carried out by politicians Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Sri Ranga. Gunawardena addressing the media at his Borella residence said, “The allegations against me are baseless and there is an organised campaign against me for political gain by a handful of politicians who are in the UPFA and they have not made any specific reference to these allegations.” The former MP said: “There were four prominent members of the UPFA responsible for depriving me of my nominations during the last general election and they keep vilifying me.” The one time Rajapaksa confidant charged that former President Mahinda […]

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