Sri Lankan govt stresses no ban on visas

The Sri Lankan government rejected reports that new visa screening processes would result in visas not being issued, stating that visas would be issued "without any special test or delay irrespective of their country of origin". “Any foreigner who hopes to visit Sri Lanka for business, leisure, educational or any other purpose can apply for a visa online and obtain visas for 30 days. After arrival the foreigners can extend their visa by applying to the Department of Immigration and Immigration” Sri Lanka's Immigration and Emigration head, Nihal Ranasinghe was quoted by the Daily Mirror as...

Ranil says unity govt vital for country's development

Sri Lanka's prime minister and UNP leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday called for the SLFP and UNP to continue to work together as a unity government, arguing it was necessary for the country's development. His comments came as Sri Lankan papers were increasingly dubious over the longevity of the unity government. “Development projects such as this are not being implemented to get political advantage for the UNP or SLFP. It is a difficult task for two political parties to work together," Mr Wickremesinghe was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying. "It is the same when it comes to...

US and Sri Lanka to renew defence deal

The United States and Sri Lanka are to renew a defence agreement which was signed in 2007, according to reports in the Sri Lankan press. The Sunday Leader and Colombo Gazette report that Sri Lanka’s cabinet was informed of the decision to renewal a defence deal by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who was acting in his capacity as Minister of Defence. The agreement, signed in March 2007, allowed for an exchange of supply and services and the training of staff and humanitarian aids in disaster situations for a period of 10 years. A date has not yet been set for the renewal.

Tsunami, war and microfinance - how credit loans are destroying Batticaloa

Microfinance loans with soaring interest rates have been left the community in Batticaloa trapped in a cycle of debt, reports The Hindu. In a piece entitled “Getting sucked into a quicksand of debt” , villagers in the Eastern town described how microfinance loans have left many trapped. “First, it was the tsunami that destroyed our community,” said one villager. “Then came the war. Now, it’s microfinance.” Another spoke of how he was planning on selling his kidney to repay microfinance loans. “They say I will get LKR 8-9 lakhs (about ₹3.7 lakhs), but even that won’t be enough to fully repay...

Sri Lanka to lobby foreign missions over travel advisories

The Sri Lankan government had advised its ambassadors to lobby the UK, Canada and Australia over travel advisories that it feels "placed the country in poor light and threatnes to scare off foreign visitors", the Sunday Times reported. "These advisories fall short of diplomatic protocol that is enjoyed among friendly nations, and this should never be the case. We will be seeking to rectify this at the very earliest," the paper quoted a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying. UK The UK's advisory highlighted the ongoing presence of the military in the North-East, with "...

Sri Lanka introduces screening for tourists from 7 countries

The Sri Lankan government has introduced screening for tourists from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon prior to the issuing of visas. The minister of internal affairs, S B Navinna was quoted by the Sunday Leader as saying, "the screening will be carried out in light of national security concerns." According to the paper the screening will include ISIS links for those coming from Syria and Egypt, illegal immigrants from Nigeria and Ghana; and refugees from Pakistan.

Weerawansa says former navy spokesperson arrested over disappearance of 'terrorists'

The leader of the National Freedom Front and MP Wimal Weerawansa condemned the arrest of the former Sri Lankan navy spokesperson saying that he was a talented officer who had been arrested over the disappearance of "terrorists". Commodore D K P Dassanayake was arrested this month of the disappearance of 11 Tamil youths in 2008. "Commodore Dassanayake was one of the two officers who got the opportunity to get ‘Field Promotions’ twice in the Sri Lankan Navy’s history. He has been arrested over an incident where several terrorists had gone missing,” Mr Weerawansa told a press conference,...

UN rapporteurs lack calibre and diplomacy - Sri Lanka's justice minister

Rejecting the conclusions of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson following an official visit to Sri Lanka, the country's justice minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe described Mr Emmerson as someone who "lacked cailbre and diplomacy" and accused him of using "false facts" about the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Also critical of the previous visit the UN Rapporteur, Monica Pinto, Mr Rajapakshe said, “she also said Tamil are mistreated. These are the type of special rapporteurs who visit Sri Lanka today." "They lack caliber and have hidden agendas. They think...

Senior police DIG arrested for helping Vithya murder suspect evade arrest in Sri Lanka

Senior Deputy Inspector General Lalith Jayasinghe has been arrested for allegedly helping a suspect in the murder of schoolgirl Sivaloganathan Vithya evade arrest in Jaffna. The incident sparked widespread condemnation in the North-East. The trial is set to be in Jaffna, after a request by the defendants to be transferred to Colombo sparked strong opposition from the local community. See more here.

Sri Lanka's new Defence Sec meets Buddhist clergy, assures protection of 'war heroes'

Sri Lanka’s new defence secretary, Kapila Waidyaratne assured the protection of war heroes in a meeting with senior Buddhist prelates of the Asgiiriya, Malwathu and Ramanna chapters.