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Police arrest human smuggling operator

Mar 3 (Xinhua) The police said on Saturday that they had arrested a suspect who was involved in human smuggling operation. The police fraud bureau arrested the suspect in Colombo and he confessed to sending 45 minority Tamils to Togo on the promise of sending them to Canada. A group of 269 Sri Lankan illegal immigrants were found stranded in Togo recently and it was later found that they were promised asylum in Canada. The police said that the suspect who was arrested in Colombo more..

India bails out Lanka on rights resolution

Mar 3 (ENS) In a move that should help Sri Lanka out at the 19th sessi­on of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Gene­va, India has said it is against “country specific” resolutions because they may weaken the constructive dialogue and cooperative approach of the UNHRC. The United States was expected to move a resolution at the UNHRC session, censuring Sri Lanka over alleged war crimes against Tamils during the civil war. more..

Editorial: Accountability applies to West too

Mar 4 (SO) Human rights have now turned out to be an effective tool for the so-called big countries to intimidate small countries to suit their hidden agendas. Amnesty International (AI) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have more often than not used this tool effectively to fall in line with Western conspiracies and tame countries which the so-called big nations identify as 'threats' or challenges. Has Sri Lanka too been categorised under this group, chiefly due to the fact that more..

Editorial: Can an American resolution help reconciliation

Mar 4 (SL) While the debate is on in the UNHRC assembly in Geneva, on the streets of Sri Lanka and even on the streets of some cities in Europe, the objectives of the American sponsored Resolution on alleged human rights violations by Sri Lankan armed forces, appear to be lost on most of those concerned, even the sponsors. The objective should be not only to bring justice and relief to victims of the long drawn conflict but also reconciliation of the two estranged communities. more..

'People's power - the need of the hour'

Mar 4 (SO) Minister Wimal Weerawansa said the resolution to be moved against Sri Lanka by the US at the UNHRC sessions is the first 'experiment' by the US and other human rights fighters to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer stressed the need to create a massive people's power within the country by taking every possible measure to prevent foreign interference. more..

Editorial: When ‘time slips away’…

Mar 4 (NS) US Under Secretary of State Maria Otero told the UNHRC session in Geneva that the international community has waited nearly three years for action by Sri Lanka and ‘time is slipping away’ for them. She has also pontificated on the preconditions for ‘lasting peace’, namely reconciliation and accountability. It is no secret that the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization, the LTTE, is behind a lot of moves against Sri Lanka by the international community, more..

Editorial: Fact from fiction…

Mar 4 (LB) The tempo of the confrontation in Geneva grew more intense this week, with the US led resolution on Sri Lanka now said to be a certainty. The fallout of protests in the streets of Sri Lanka may or may not have a bearing on the final outcome of the of the Geneva Round II, as this ‘clash of the determined’ has now come to be characterized in Geneva, the nominal human rights capital of the world. What’s striking is the extraordinary heft of the effort that is being made in more..

‘First priority is my family’

Mar 4 (NS) First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa in an interview, for the first time with any newspaper, traces the highlights of her married life with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A lady with a self-effacing nature, her first priority in life is her husband and the children, and then her teaching children of preschool age. She never dabbles in politics and is happy to keep her priorities, the family, children and preschool educational career, above all. more..

Editorial: Turning the lamp inwards

Mar 4 (Island) There is no escaping the reality that Sri Lanka’s 30-year war, like all wars from the dawn of history, provided its share of atrocities committed by both sides. While the LTTE was responsible for the major share of such horrific events, there is no purpose in denying that during various stages of the fighting, particularly in the early years, the security forces too were guilty of incidents that should never have occurred. But as time went on, the military became more disciplined and more..

Editorial: Treasury acting like the Kremlin

Mar 4 (ST) Amidst the goings-on in Geneva and the hullabaloo over a proposed anti-Sri Lanka resolution at the ongoing UNHRC sessions, a news item buried in the local newspapers last week was about the removal of the acting chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), a senior official of the Ministry of Finance, also known as the Treasury. The removal, by all accounts, was summary. The public servant was given little or no notice. The crime he had ostensibly committed more..

'TNA not against Sri Lanka'

Mar 4 (NS) Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran says they will continue to monitor the progress at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva and accepts some TNA members are unhappy over R. Sambanthan’s statement to the media made on last Saturday. The MP told The Nation that they had a meeting last Friday and sorted out the miscommunications and issues among TNA affiliated parties. more..

Geneva: NGO Blitzkrieg starts Tuesday

Mar 4 (Island) The American representative to the UN Human Rights Council Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Maria Otero spoke at the HRC on Friday last week, and there was no talk about a resolution being brought against Sri Lanka by the USA. What she said about Sri Lanka was that "We know from experience that there can be no lasting peace without reconciliation and accountability. The United States is concerned that in Sri Lanka, time is slipping away. more..

NAM backs Lanka in Geneva

Mar 4 (NS) Lobbying for and against a possible US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka, on the sidelines of the ongoing 19th UNHRC sessions in Geneva has now turned into a virtual confrontation between the United States and Sri Lanka, according to reports reaching Colombo. A 52- member delegation from Sri Lanka which includes seven Cabinet Ministers was engaged in a vigorous campaign to persuade the member nations of this important UN body to vote against the resolution on alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. more..

Life getting worse for most people

Mar 4 (SL) The constantly increasing cost of living has resulted in a majority of households living in the red every month. The Census and Statistics Department states that the average monthly expenditure of a household for January this year was recorded at Rs. 43,311.57 while the average income according to the last Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) stood at Rs. 36,451. A Sri Lankan household therefore lives in the red to the tune of Rs. 6,860 every month. more..

Yes prime minister or something as silly

Mar 4 (LB) Not everybody who calls him or herself Prime Minister is a prime minister. I mean one could say anything on a business card (or name card or calling card as some prefer to call them though what or who on earth they are calling we will never know). Well if you have a little moola to spare there is no problem getting your name and whatever else printed on it with few or no questions asked. If I went to some printer in Maharagama or Angunukolapalessa and gave my name as more..

5th column: Protest all smoke and no mirrors

Mar 4 (ST) “Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what is all this fuss about human rights?” “There is this important human rights meeting in Geneva, Bindu,” Bindu’s father Percy explained. “What is so important about that?” Bindu wanted to know. “Well,” Percy said, “some countries are claiming that we have violated human rights during the last stages of the war and want to move a resolution against us…” “And what do they want us to do about that?” Bindu asked. more..

'Keep plans simple and adapt to different surfaces'

Mar 4 (ST) Sri Lanka scored a major victory when they entered the final of the Commonwealth Bank Series Tri Nation cricket tournament here edging out world champions India but their battle is far from over as injury worries have cropped up to bother the rejuvenated Sri Lankans just as they entered the final against Australia. Having been devastated by off the field controversies and a string of poor performances for nearly an year, more..

The lessons to learn from Chandimal and Thirimanne

Mar 4 (Island) After Sri Lanka’s remarkable fight back at Lord’s last year to save the second Test, the team was engaged in a three day warm-up game at Chelmsford, a 30-minute drive from central London. The opposition was Essex and both Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal, who were yet to make their debuts, featured in that game. As the Sri Lankan journalists who were covering that series squeezed in inside the tiny press box at Essex’s home ground, the Manager of more..

Harsha says Govt. in the red – no way out

Mar 4 (LB) Sri Lanka is facing severe financial difficulties as the govt’s total tax revenue of Rs 900 billion this year is not sufficient to repay loans and interest alone, that amount to Rs 940 billion. UNP MP and economist Dr. Harsha de Silva challenged anyone in the govt to deny this reality. “The govt seeks to earn around Rs 900 billion as revenue from taxes this year. But the government will be forced to pay a further sum of Rs 940 billion as loans and interest. more..

CB stops hoarding of dollars by banks

Mar 4 (ST) The Central Bank, in a move to deter hoarding and speculative trading in a rising US dollar by commercial banks, on Friday sharply cut the daily limits on foreign exchange reserves in banks. “This is due to a suspicion that as a result of a free market in the currency and no intervention by the Central Bank some banks were stock-piling dollars to be traded at a later date when the rate rises,” one dealer said. more..

Colombo Hilton clinches better management agreement

Mar 4 (ST) The Cabinet this week agreed to permit Hotel Developers Limited (HDL), the owning company of Colombo Hilton to operate as a Fully Owned Government Company, and enter into a re-negotiated management contract with Hilton Worldwide that would cut the management fee from 33 per cent to 11.75 per cent in favour of the local company. The Cabinet last week deferred a decision on the matter when Minister Sarath Amunugama raised objections, more..

ICA consultant lauds Lanka’s Co-op Movement

Mar 4 (SO) Senior Consultant of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Rangan Dutta has commended the Government’s moves to promote the country’s Co-operative Movement at the ninth Asia Pacific Co-operative Ministers’ Conference at the UN Centre, Thailand. The conference which began on February 27 concluded on March 1. Dutta who participated in the conference had said that as a person who is committed to the Co-operative Movement he was impressed by the initiative more..

Govt. to embark on Stage II of US $ 500 mn BIA expansion project

Mar 4 (Island) Stage II of the expansion of Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will go ahead, as planned, with US $ 500 million funding from JICA, Airport and Aviation Services Minister, Priyankara Jayaratne said. The government has ambitious plans to develop Sri Lanka into a hub for commercial aviation in the Asian region in 2012. This would act as a catalyst for the growth of the country ‘s tourism industry more..

30,000 kilos of vegetables destroyed

Mar 4 (Island) More than 30,000 kilograms of vegetables were destroyed yesterday morning at the Dambulla Economic Centre as a glut had sent prices crashing, reports said. "There were surplus vegetables but the consumer demand had dropped", trade officials said. There was no option but to destroy the stock as they are perishable consumables, they said. The price of brinjals, tomatoes, beetroot, green chillies, cabbage and cucumber were amongst the vegetables more..

Fired CPC chairman sent to the ‘Pool’

Mar 4 (ST) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation's (CPC) former acting Chairman Wasantha Ekanayake who was sacked from his post for asking CPC debtors to 'pay up or stop credit' has been transferred to the 'pool' without any responsibilities. Mr. Ekanayake was a one-time Deputy Director of Finance at the Ministry of Finance and a Treasury representative on the CPC board. As a result the employees’ medical insurance scheme is to be curtailed and the CPC has failed to pay the gratuity money for its retiring employees,” more..

Sex in the city: Police come down hard

Mar 4 (ST) As twilight falls foreign women dressed in revealing clothes are seen at well-known spots in Colombo waiting for a deal that will bring them cash in return for a night of sex. But these pretty women are now becoming a growing menace to the country and Immigration authorities are struggling to clamp down on those overstaying their visas. The end of the war saw an increased flow of tourists and hundreds of women from China, Russia, more..

'Dr. Senaratne is a senior medical administrative grade officer'

Mar 4 (Island) Referring to comments on acting director, National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL), Dr. (Mrs) Sujatha Senaratne attributed to a medical official in last Sunday’s news story headlined "GMOA to discuss ‘critical issues’ today", Health Ministry Secretary, Dr. Ravindra Ruberu says the vacancy of acting director or director of NHSL is filled only with officers of the senior medical administrative grade. He said that he appointed Dr. Senaratne as more..

US hell-bent in safeguarding its geopolitical interests - Douglas

Mar 4 (CT) Minister Douglas Devananda vehemently condemning the US resolution said it focused on safeguarding its ‘geo-political’ interest and not to stabilize human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Immediately after his return from Geneva Devananda told Ceylon Today several member countries of the UNHRC were sympathetic towards Sri Lanka. “America has a hidden agenda with regard to its resolution on Sri Lanka to be presented in Geneva. more..

Iran oil: Lanka trapped in US sanctions

Mar 4 (ST) Sri Lanka has told Iran it will follow in the steps of India to secure urgently needed oil supplies from theat country if its quest for stocks from other sources fails. At present Iran supplies 93 per cent of Sri Lanka’s crude oil requirements. This in essence is what Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Iran’s Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani during extensive talks in Teheran recently. Mr. Cabraal flew to Teheran for a day’s visit accompanied by more..

Trade union action to continue demanding SJGH’s Deputy Director’s removal

Mar 4 (Island) In a joint agitation, six trade unions staged a two-day protest at the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH) last week demanding the immediate removal of deputy director, Dr. (Mrs) Chamila Ariyananda whose "irregular appointment" has come under flak as she is neither registered with the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) nor possess the mandatory postgraduate qualifications for the top job. The lunch-hour protest on Thursday and Friday saw more..

Lukewarm response to govt’s call for more time

Mar 4 (SL) The Mahinda Rajapaksa administration has resorted to heavy lobbying with the international community in the face of a US backed Resolution on Sri Lanka at the 19th UNHRC sessions in Geneva, prompting even the President to make telephone contact with Indian Premier Manmohan Singh. Rajapaksa’s telephone call to Singh is an acknowledgement of the important role played by India in regional politics. It is learnt that Rajapkasa and Singh had been engaged in more..

GTF proposes two-pronged strategy for reconciliation

Mar 4 (Island) The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday proposed a two-pronged strategy to facilitate national reconciliation process. GTF spokesman Suren Surendiran said that implementation of positive recommendations made by the LLRC should be prioritized, while accountability issues addressed through an international investigative mechanism. A true international effort, with the backing of key regional Govts, will bring real accountability more..

Ex-Basnayake Nilame remanded over alleged land scam

Mar 4 (ST) A former Basnayake Nilame of the Lankatilake Devale has been remanded on charges of fraud involving more than 280 acres of land belonging to a temple in Mawathagama, in the Kurunegala district. The suspect has been remanded till March 8, 2012. The Pilessa Court heard that Colombo resident P. P. R. Rajapakse had filed a complaint of alleged fraud committed by former Basnayake Nilame Samarasinghe Bandara of Kiribathkumbura. more..

TMVP maintains demand for police powers

Mar 4 (SL) The Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) maintains that police powers must be allocated to the provinces and not remain in the hands of the central govt. TMVP spokesman Azad Maulana told The Sunday Leader that his party wants to see the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Under the 13th Amendment the devolution of powers to the provinces takes center stage and the TMVP feels that the provincial administration must have authority over the police in the area. more..

World divided over US resolution targeting SL

Mar 4 (Island) The proposed US resolution targeting the Sri Lankan govt over accountability issues has sharply divided the global community with the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) voicing opposition to UN intervention. They backed Sri Lanka’s efforts against the US move on Friday, on the fifth day of the 19th sessions of the UNHRC. UN Security Council members, Russia and China and Pakistan, too, support Sri Lanka, more..

Powers only to take over land for religious purposes

Mar 4 (ST) The controversial Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill will be re-introduced to Parliament shortly but with amendments so as to address the concerns raised by several Provincial Councils (PCs) which opposed many of the provisions in the Bill. The PCs had opposed the Bill on the grounds that it infringes on the rights of the PCs to decide on land issues that are presently under their purview. The Amendment Bill that was presented to Parliament late last year more..

Moves to remove Sajith

Mar 4 (SL) There are moves to remove UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa from his post following an incident which occurred in Panadura last Thursday, UNP sources said. According to them, the UNP Parliamentary Group will meet on Tuesday to discuss the incident and the action that needs to be taken against some UNP members. A tense situation broke out in Panadura on Thursday just as UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was winding up a speech during a demonstration against the government. more..

Peiris-Samarasinghe differ in Geneva as US talks tough

Mar 4 (ST) It was 6 p.m. on Wednesday Feb 22 when President Mahinda Rajapaksa greeted his cabinet ministers turning up at "Temple Trees". That was first for a meeting together with electoral and district level representatives of the UPFA. Thereafter, he was to chair the weekly cabinet meeting. The telephone operator hurriedly put through a call to him. It was Minister G.L. Peiris. He was calling from Geneva. The time in the Swiss city was 1.30 p.m. more..

Public smoking to be banned

Mar 4 (NS) Smoking in public is to be banned, said Deputy Health Minister Lalith Dissanayake. Addressing a two-day workshop organised by the Jeewaka Foundation in collaboration with the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) at the Sri Lanka Press Institute, Dissanayake said necessary legislation would be introduced shortly in that regard. When questioned why the government had failed so far to introduce pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets despite more..

‘Disregard of LLRC report places entire country in danger’

Mar 4 (SM) The govt’s delay in the implementation of the LLRC recommendation has placed the entire country in danger, warned UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella. He told a public rally in Kandy yesterday (Mar. 03) that it was the government, not the country, which is facing allegations at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. Meanwhile, head of the Sri Lankan delegation Mahinda Samarasinghe told Hiru FM that the government was prepared to face any challenge. more..