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Sri Lankan navy officer accused of being key player in people-smuggling racket

Nov 14 (SMH) The alleged linchpin of Sri Lanka's biggest people-smuggling racket is a decorated naval officer who briefed Australia's border protection chief and its high commissioner to Sri Lanka on how to stop human trafficking. But the Australian govt has refused to comment on what information it might have shared with the accused officer, Lieutenant-Commander Sanjeewa Annatugoda. PM Tony Abbott arrives in more..

Commonwealth & human rights principles in Sri Lanka, in the weeks before CHOGM

Nov 15 (GV) The CHOGM is due to start tomorrow. The last few weeks has seen series of violations of Human Rights and Commonwealth principles in Sri Lanka, which is the host country and expected to lead the Commonwealth in the next two years. Victims of human rights violations, their families, activists, local and international journalists, UN experts and opposition politicians from Sri Lanka and Commonwealth countries who are critical of the govt have been amongst those targeted. more..

An economy that unites, reconciliation that divides in Sri Lanka

Nov 15 (GV) There are some issues that divide Sri Lankans and there are some issues that unite Sri Lankans. While the cost of living, unemployment and education bring the opinions of the four main communities together, topics such as reconciliation and identity continue to divide. On the economy, the cost of living is what is mainly on people’s minds. A reduction in the cost of living is what most Sri Lankans would like to see as a result of the current development process along with more..

Is gem & jewellery losing its shine?

Nov 15 (SL) The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA), the state institution the gem merchants have confidence in obtaining accurate gem identification reports, seems to have lost its integrity over the past few years for issuing wrong identification reports, which has badly affected the country’s gem industry. Gem buyers, especially the foreigners, seek the NGJA certification before purchasing gemstones to verify the more..

India's unkindest cut of all!

Nov 15 (CT) After mulling over for weeks, India finally made up her mind. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minster of the biggest democracy in the world had decided to stay away from the biggest international event her closest island-neighbour is holding. Although the Indian decision may have taken the Sri Lankan authorities by surprise, most observers would have predicted the coming of his harbinger. The anger generated in the psyche of South of India, Tamil Nadu in particular, about the alleged more..

How to get Manmohan Singh to Colombo

Nov 15 (SL) Speaking at the seminar held on India’s Foreign Policy Shifts and Her Neighbours, Bimmal Biyawansa, the Sri Lankan’s ultimate authority on foreign affairs, stressed on the need to determine the objective of India’s Mars Orbital Mission (MOM). ‘I think the objective is to send a message to Sri Lanka’, he opined. What? A $73.5 million message to little Lanka? I thought they already have done so by threatening to keep out Manmohan Singh from the Commonwealth Summit, more..

Keyt’s sketches to a daughter

Nov 15 (ST) When his daughter Diana was a tiny tot of two, artist George Keyt who would in later years become world famous, put together a collection of nursery rhymes and pictures especially for her. These verses and drawings which remained in the family are now being published in book form by Vijitha Yapa Publications. Here, the Sunday Times brings to you an extract ‘Those Sweet Kandy Days’ written by Diana Keyt. more..

The unloved drug industry

Nov 15 (CT) It appears that Society has not been kind to drug industry though it holds the entire world on its shoulders like the Giant Atlas in Greek mythology. Patients accuse it of charging beyond what their purse can buy. The governmental regulators charge it of violating drug regulations which have been imposed to protect the helpless consumers. Social action groups criticise it for undertaking unethical promotional and marketing practices. Some physicians in the curative more..

Editorial: Is it CHOGM or UNHRC summit?

Nov 15 (Island) The Commonwealth leaders meet today. Usually, they gather, talk and depart and nothing comes of their summits. But, this time around there is likely to be a difference with some leaders trying to turn the Colombo CHOGM into a UNHRC session of sorts. They are here to haul their host over the coals. This is an interesting development. Sri Lanka’s human rights record, no doubt, has to improve, as we keep saying in these columns. International pressure is mounting more..

CHOGM: Real engagement, or a Sri Lanka PR exercise?

Nov 15 (AC) British PM David Cameron has said he will attend the CHOGM in Colombo to engage with host nation Sri Lanka. However, while loudly encouraging Commonwealth leaders to engage by attending the Summit, Sri Lanka has in the recent past brushed aside international engagement it perceives as threatening and accommodated only that which boosts its legitimacy at home and image abroad. more..

India’s claim: Lanka not fulfilling commitments

Nov 15 (Island) Mr. Narayanasamy, a Minister of State in the Indian PM’s Office is reported to have stated: "Sri Lankan forces have not withdrawn from Tamil-dominated areas. The country has not given land back to the displaced Tamils". If such unsubstantiated opinions are the views in the Indian PM’s Office and that of the PM himself who comments on the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment, it is no surprise that the PM has a distorted view of the situation in Sri Lanka; more..

CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka, dilemma faced by member countries

Nov 15 (CT) The biennial CHOGM will be held in Sri Lanka from 15th to 17th Nov. President Rajapaksa made repeated attempts after the end of conflict on 18th May 2009 to hold CHOGM in Sri Lanka and to show to the world normalcy has returned to the country, even though the Tamil homeland in the North East Sri Lanka is under military occupation, denying fundamental rights. The first attempt was at CHOGM2009 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; the second attempt was at CHOGM2011 more..

Julie Bishop denies going soft on Sri Lanka's human rights record

Nov 15 (TA) Julie Bishop has denied the Australian govt was going soft on alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka in return for Colombo's cooperation on asylum-seekers, saying her attendance at the Commonwealth summit was "not a PR exercise". While other Commonwealth nations have taken a tough stand over alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, with the Canadian and Indian PM's boycotting the event and Britain's more..

Prison School to become a reality

Nov 15 (CT) Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera, announced that the Watareka Prison School would be opened by Jan 2014. Prison statistics reveal that out of 32,128 inmates, 2,848 are uneducated. The school would therefore provide over 2,000 inmates with an opportunity to be educated so that they could sit for the GCE O/L and A/L exams, eventually. The second phase of the project will provide higher education facilities to 280 inmates, who may be interested in pursuing more..

India’s CHOGM 2013 strategic blunder

Nov 15 (TD) A little over a week ago, I wrote a piece for The Diplomat discussing Manmohan Singh’s bold proclamation of the five principles that, in his view, drove India’s foreign policy. He stated them during a speech to India’s Ambassadors last week. One of these was the following: “… we recognize that the Indian sub-continent’s shared destiny requires greater regional cooperation and connectivity. Towards this end, we must strengthen regional institutional capability and capacity and more..

BOI signs three strategic development projects

Nov 15 (Island) Three agreements were signed with the BOI yesterday. One was for a Chinese investment of USD 1,300 million to reclaim 233 hectares of land and develop Colombo. That was followed by another USD 450 million Australian investment for a Mixed Development project on six acres of land owned by the UDA, which has been taken on a 99-year lease, for which the investing company has already paid Rs. 768 million. more..

Post-war, the rule of law does not exist in Sri Lanka

Nov 15 (TA) It has been four years since the LTTE were defeated by Sri Lankan govt troops following nearly three decades of civil war. Today, the absence of the rule of law in Sri Lanka has made the holding of the CHOGM an exercise in barely concealed cynicism for ordinary Sri Lankans. In many respects, the protection of basic liberties for all Sri Lankans - Sinhalese (the majority community) and the minority Tamils and Muslims - is worse off than when the war was on. more..

A chance to chastise Rajapaksa

Nov 15 (WSJ) As leaders of British Commonwealth states gather in Colombo for their biennial summit, the focus is on deteriorating human rights in the home country. Prime Ministers Stephen Harper of Canada, Manmohan Singh of India and Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius have boycotted amid worries that Sri Lanka is descending into authoritarianism. Those leaders who do attend should be under no illusions about what the ruling Rajapaksa family is up to. more..

Sirikotha tense, BBS oppose HR summit

Nov 15 (CT) The UNP Leadership Council was on to an inauspicious start yesterday, with monks and Party activists exchanging fisticuffs with monks being stripped off their robes by angry mobs when members of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) arrived at Sirikotha. The monks were led by its General Secretary, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera. When nine members of the BBS led by Ven. Gnanasara Thera approached more..

Colombo conundrum

Nov 15 (KT) When the CHOGM — one of the more important international conferences of the year — starts in Colombo, today, there will be a notable absentee: Indian PM Manmohan Singh. His place will be taken by Salman Khurshid, India’s External Affairs Minister. While the Indian govt is trying to sugarcoat its decision not to send the Indian prime minister by pointing out that Indian prime ministers were not present at some other CHOGMs too, the circumstances surrounding more..

NZ PM heads to controversial summit

Nov 15 (RNZ) NZ PM John Key is on his way to Sri Lanka to attend this year's CHOGM meeting. New Zealand has rejected calls to boycott the three-day summit in response to Sri Lanka's human rights record. Mr Key says he intends to raise those concerns with the Sri Lankan Govt. The PMs of Canada and Mauritius will not attend CHOGM this year in protest, while India's Manmohan Singh will send another minister in his place. Mr Key says New Zealand's view is that it is better to more..

Julie Bishop welcomes arrest of Sri Lankan sailors linked to people smuggling

Nov 15 (SMH) Foreign minister Julie Bishop says she welcomes the arrests of Sri Lankan navy sailors allegedly involved in people smuggling, saying it shows the country is serious about combating the illegal trade in people. But the minister rejected suggestions Australia would be embarrassed that the Sri Lankan navy, its supposed partner in combating people smuggling, had members who were complicit in the trade. more..

U.S. maritime-security firm wary of “high-crime” Sri Lankan waters

Nov 15 (Hindu) U.S. based AdvanFort, the crew on board its ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio was recently arrested by the Tamil Nadu police for trespassing, has announced that it was avoiding the “high-crime” Sri Lankan waters in a bid to protect clients, crew and cargo. It had taken heed of US Department of State’s “Threats to Safety and Security” advisory which warned about the increasing and “ongoing criminal activity around the country, including murder and kidnapping” in Sri Lanka, more..

Sri Lanka risks violence if crackdown continues, says ICG

Nov 15 (TRF) Sri Lanka faces the threat of violence if it continues to ignore international concerns over attacks on the rule of law, human rights abuses and a lack of post-war reconciliation, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report. Despite recent moves to show progress, the London-based think tank said the govt in Colombo had not altered the "authoritarian direction" of its policies, and the rights and security of all communities remained under threat. "The govt’s policies badly damage more..

Video: Prince Charles in Sri Lanka amid human rights row

Nov 15 (BBC) Prince Charles has arrived in Sri Lanka to represent the Queen at the Commonwealth summit which opens on Friday. David Cameron is also attending, despite some calls for a boycott because of Sri Lanka's human rights record. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's president has hit back at criticism over human rights, saying any complaints or abuses committed during or after its civil war will be dealt with. more..

Mahinda’s marrow!

Nov 15 (FT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday hit back at critics of Sri Lanka’s human rights record, saying his Govt would not tolerate abuses and urging faith in the country’s legal system to deal with the allegations. Addressing a rare media briefing at Committee Room A of the BMICH ahead of the CHOGM 2013 opening ceremony, President Rajapaksa, who dealt impressively with tough questions from the press, said people had been getting killed in Sri Lanka for 30 years. more..

Fly the flag!

Nov 15 (FT) The Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs has requested all Sri Lankans to hoist the National Flag until 19 Nov in every household to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the third year anniversary of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second presidential term. Secretary to the Ministry P.B. Abeykoon has requested that the National Flag be hoisted in all ministries and State and private institutions as well as in residences.

CBI waiting to question KP

Nov 15 (HT) The CBI is waiting for an official response from the Sri Lankan govt on the formal questioning of a Tamil militant in connection with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The militant, Kumaran Padmanathan (KP), was the chief arms procurer for the LTTE. “Our request in this regard is pending with the Sri Lankan govt. Besides, there is an Interpol notice pending against KP for a case registered against him in Tamil Nadu. more..

Critics attack India's CHOGM boycott

Nov 15 (ABC) The CHOGM takes place in Sri Lanka this week, amid boycotts by Canada, India and Mauritania, purportedly in protest against alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan govt. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he’s boycotting the talks because of Sri Lanka’s refusal to address alleged human rights abuses by the military during the country’s civil war. In the case of India, however, critics are saying New Delhi’s no show is more about domestic politics more..

David Cameron ventures on to a diplomatic sticky wicket

Nov 15 (Independent) As diplomatic ice-breakers go, talking about your host country’s favourite son is a good place to start. So David Cameron’s loosener with the Indian PM, Manmohan Singh, in Delhi, as Sachin Tendulkar began his final Test match, was easy. Praise for the Little Master eased otherwise-tense talks about today’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which Mr Singh is boycotting as a result of the host country Sri Lanka’s refusal to investigate the deaths of up to 40,000 Tamils more..

CHOGM 2013: UK reps behaving as if we were still a colony - Gotabhaya

Nov 15 (Island) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa alleged that the UK govt was acting as if Sri Lanka were still a British colony. The actions of some of the British representatives here for the CHOGM had undermined bilateral relations, Rajapaksa said. He was responding to statements attributed to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire at the more..

Blunder that cost Sri Lanka another gold

Nov 15 (CT) A communication blunder by Sri Lanka team manager Anil Weerasinghe cost Sri Lanka its eleventh gold medal when long-jumper Sarangi Silva was refused the final two jumps after returning from the short sprint relay at the just concluded 2nd South Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Ranchi. The 17-year-old had returned to complete her final two jumps after helping Sri Lanka to the 4x100 relay gold but the technical officers have refused. In her first three jumps, more..

Top Tory donors hit Sri Lanka for CBF

Nov 15 (HP) David Cameron has come under fire as it emerged that numerous Tory donors came to Sri Lanka for a business forum before the CHOGM. Construction giant JCB and telecoms group Lycamobile, two of the Tories' biggest corporate backers, have sent delegates to the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF), which is estimated to have had business deals worth $2bn on the table. Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said: “David Cameron has failed to make human rights a priority in the run up more..

Video: Sri Lankan diplomat says rights criticism a 'proxy propaganda war'

Nov 15 (CNN) Sri Lanka's high commissioner to Britain has blamed criticism of his country's human rights record on a "proxy propaganda war" being carried out by those who funded the nation's "terrorist conflict." The prime ministers of Canada, Mauritius and India have withdrawn from the CHOGM, beginning in Colombo on Friday, amid concerns about the rights situation in Sri Lanka after its 28-year civil war with more..

DNA testing for body believed to be of murdered lover

Nov 15 (CT) The Courts have ordered that the exhumed body believed to be of former STF Inspector Thusita Kumara, who was murdered by a gang of contract killers for a fee of Rs 2 million paid by the victim's employer and lover – the wife of a millionaire residing in Flower Road, Colpetty - to be sent for DNA testing to firmly establish its identity. The Courts ordered thus to the Kegalle Hospital JMO, when the body was exhumed in the presence of the Kurunegala Magistrate more..

CHOGM meeting to open in Sri Lanka amid human rights row

Nov 15 (BBC) A Commonwealth summit is set to open in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, amid continuing scrutiny of the govt's human rights record. On Thursday President Rajapaksa rejected criticism of his govt's actions during the campaign which defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009. Mr Rajapaksa is due to chair the Commonwealth for the next two years. The leaders of India, Mauritius and Canada have boycotted the summit. Prince Charles will open the summit, for the first time representing more..

Army occupation angers Sri Lankan Tamils four years after war ends

Nov 15 (Reuters) The threats came by text message, a phone call and a delivery of two cow skulls. The message was clear: stop protesting against the army's occupation of your land or you will be killed. Four years after Sri Lanka's army crushed the Tamil Tiger guerrilla army and ended a civil war that had lasted nearly three decades, Tamils say they are blatantly repressed in Jaffna, capital of the island's northern peninsula. more..

David Cameron can and must secure moral high ground

Nov 15 (DM) British PM David Cameron has stated that he intends to talk tough when he meets President Rajapaksa in Colombo. Mr. Cameron appears to have set the stage for serious engagement with Sri Lanka on the thorny issue of human rights violations; alleged, let’s add. Now ‘human rights’ is a broad subject for it includes areas such as education and healthcare. In both, Sri Lanka has a very positive track record. Even at the height of the operations to rid the country more..

A versatile son of the nation

Nov 15 (DM) The untimely death of former Attorney General and Chairman of the LLRC C.R. de Silva last week robbed the country of a distinguished legal luminary at a time when the legal profession is at a crossroad. Ironically, at the time de Silva passed away, human rights activists have descended on Sri Lanka because of the CHOGM and many are demanding the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC which he chaired. It is a measure of the man that these same more..

External trade makes satisfactory progress in September

Nov 15 (FT) Central Bank said external sector maintained a satisfactory progress in Sept 2013. The trade deficit continued to narrow during the first nine months of 2013 as a result of a strong growth in exports. “The current account deficit declined, primarily due to the shrinking of the deficit in the trade account, higher inflows to the services account and an increase in private transfers. Inflows to the financial account remained strong more..