Commonwealth urged to act on human rights

A confidential report commissioned by the Commonwealth has called on the group to make essential reforms and uphold human rights in the organisation or they risk becoming irrelevant. The report, obtained by Reuters, was compiled by a 10-member Eminent Persons Group and is due to be presented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth later this month. The 204-page report said, "As it is currently perceived, the Commonwealth is in danger of losing its relevance". See the report from Reuters here . Amongst the recommendations made was to appoint a commissioner to look into "...

Tamils gear up for Ontario general elections

With the 2011 Ontario general elections set to take place this week, the Canadian Tamil community looks set to hold considerable sway on the outcome, as candidates are in the height of campaigning for their votes. The elections, set to take place on Thursday the 6th of October, have given the Tamil community the opportunity to make their voice heard and it seems that the candidates have sat up and listened. See report from Digital Journal here . After the Canadian government’s lack of criticism of Sri Lanka’s war on the Vanni in 2009 and allegations of human rights violations and war crimes,...

Easy borrowing

Further to our analysis last week on Sri Lanka’s trade, debt and currency quandary, see this report by LBO: The Sri Lankan Highways Ministry is borrowing $500 from local banks, ostensibly to finance road reconstruction. The loan is part of Colombo’s growing reliance on loans from domestic banks to meet shortfalls in its budget, as government spending continues to outstrip its revenue. (see p9 here ). The state has been increasing its control over the banking sector by using publicly owned pension and insurance pension funds to buy banking stocks - nationalisation by stealth. Unsurprisingly,...

5 arrested for printing ‘illegal’ newspaper, as JVP split widens

5 people have been arrested for printing 20,400 copies of the JVP newspaper ‘Lanka’, the Daily Mirror reported. The report comes as the split in the JVP deepened, with both factions planning to hold separate conventions to expel their rivals. ‘Lanka’ is currently run by the dissident JVP, with the main faction claiming ownership of the newspaper. The Managing Director of the newspaper, on the side of the dissidents, was arrested last week on assault charges, after a member of the main faction alleged he was assaulted by him.

Rajapaksa's self-congratulation

Despite an ever-increasing call for an international, independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Rajapaksa asserted that the world should commend Sri Lanka on its 'rehabilitation programme' for alleged LTTE cadres and the release of 1800 Tamil men and women from detention. All the men and women said to be released on Friday had been detained as suspected LTTE cadres, and ordered to under go a 'rehabilitation' programme. Speaking at Temple Trees, Rajapaksa claimed that these men and women were the last of over 12,000 alleged LTTE cadres to be...

Bid to halt deportation fails, Tamils detained on arrival in Colombo

A last-ditch attempt at halting the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka has failed. 42 men and 8 women were arrested and questioned by Sri Lankan police on arrival at Colombo airport. There is now serious concern for the wellbeing of the deportees. Channel 4 has obtained documents containing an admission by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to have passed on information regarding 14 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, in breach of UK and European law, although the UKBA claim that none of those individuals have been deported. Reports suggest that two Tamils had...

'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields' screened to Canadian MPs

Channel 4 documentary providing video evidence of war crimes, 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields' was screened at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, on Thursday. The event, co-hosted by NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough-Rouge River), Conservative Party MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) and Liberal Party MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), was well attended. Addressing the crowd, MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, welcomed the cross-party consensus on war crimes and accountability in Sri Lanka, “I’m very pleased that all parties came together to host this event. This issue runs deeper than political ties, and it is...

Canadians turn up the pressure on Sri Lanka

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird lashed out at Sri Lanka, as the issue of war crimes and accountability looms ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth next month. Having met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris last week, Baird said he had expressed Canada’s "concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes , the lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community and with events that have taken place since the end of the civil war ". He went on to tell the House of Commons, "Canada...

MP Mervyn Silva 'chief' patron of drug kingpins

Leaked US embassy cables, state that MP Mervyn Silva was believed to be giving patronage to drug traffickers in 2009, along side his son, Malika Silva. "According to a former Sri Lankan security services official, drug kingpins in Sri Lanka have political patrons in the government, chief among them Dr. Mervyn Silva, a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Labor ." " His son, Malika Silva, is suspected of trafficking the drug “ecstasy” in Colombo nightclubs ." A further cable drew attention to the wider culture of impunity within the Sri Lankan state, highlighting its failure to investigate...

Sri Lanka attempts to censor C4's 'Killing Fields', again

Sri Lankan officials attempted to prevent the broadcasting of the Channel 4 documentary, 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields' on Norweigan TV channel NRK2 on Tuesday. The documentary, containing first-hand video footage of war crimes, has already been broadcast worldwide on several mainstream news outlets. However, Sri Lankan officials remain intent on preventing any further broadcasts. NRK2 reportedly 'ignored calls from the Sri Lankan Embassy to cancel transmitting a contentious programme." In a last ditch attempt embassy officials released the following statement, “We urge NRK 2 not to air the UK...

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