|PEARL’s News Update 21 March 2016
President Sirisena again rules out foreign judges in Sri Lanka war crimes probe
Addressing the National Law Conference in the sea side southern resort of Wadduwa yesterday, Sirisena said: “I will not agree to get foreign judges in to any kind of investigations into human rights violations allegations” – Economic Times.
UNP-ally says it will not allow questioning of “war heroes”
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) will not allow war heroes to be questioned by the international community under any circumstances as long as the party is a part of the government, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka said – Daily Mirror.
Fonseka denies war crimes reports and pledges to protect army
Sri Lanka’s former army general Sarath Fonseka denied all reports that troops under his command committed war crimes and reiterated his commitment to defending the army – Tamil Guardian.
‘No motive to arrest military personnel‘ assures Defence Minister
Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said there are no motives to arrest military personnel and assured troops that “national security” would be strengthened – Tamil Guardian.
Ranil Wickremesinghe – No one can topple this government
No one will be able to topple this government prematurely and do not get deceived by false statements made by conspirators, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe said on Saturday. – Daily Mirror.
Thousands at pro-Mahinda rally
Thousands attended a rally organised by the joint-opposition, including dissident members of the SLFP and other parties. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed the rally to loud cheers. Although the SLFP said it would discipline its MPs if they attended the rally, it decided otherwise – The Nation.
Sri Lanka slams UN Special Rapporteur report on caste-based discrimination
The Sri Lankan government rejected a United Nations Special Rapporteur report on caste-based discrimination on the island, labelling it “incorrect, inaccurate and misleading” – Tamil Guardian.
Life with the military
A project to bring journalists from the south and the north together, organised by the government, will see involvement by the military – CIMIC Jaffna. The military oversaw a Hindu ceremony in a high security zone – Tamil Guardian. The army constructed a Buddhist shrine in Kilinochchi – Tamil Guardian and also held a lecture on ‘Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law’ in Mullaitivu earlier this month – Tamil Guardian.
Occupation of land will ‘never lead to reconciliation’ warns Chief Minister
Chief Minister of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran said attempts by the Sri Lankan military to hold on to land in the North-East will “never lead to reconciliation” at a speech in Jaffna on Saturday – Tamil Guardian.
EU says clear evidence of progressive measures on human rights are needed before GSP+ return
The European Union (EU) delegation to Sri Lanka on Tuesday said that it was advisable for the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to be patient with the application for GSP+ until there is a strong chance of regaining the tariff facility from the EU – Daily Mirror.
Controversy over book by former LTTE commander
The release of book said to be written by former head of the LTTE women’s political win Thamilini has been mired by controversy. Police initially said they would not allow the launch of the book, but then allowed it to go ahead – Tamil Guardian. The book itself details criticism of the LTTE – The New Indian Express.
OPINIONS & COLUMNS
Darkness at noon
The power cuts this week came at the worst possible time for the Government. Abroad they were urging foreign investors to come, when at home, a Joint Opposition mass protest rally had been preplanned in Colombo. To make matters worse, there was an announcement of a hike in allowances for MPs at a time when the Government was asking the common man and woman to tighten their belts or swallow bitter medicine in the form of new taxes, in the face of a deteriorating economy – Sunday Times editorial.
Why proposed ETCA ‘framework’ should never be signed
So long as the outstanding problems in the existing FTA with India remains, there will be no question of being able to convince the Sri Lankan public that the ETCA will be beneficial to Sri Lanka. Hence the most rational course of action would be that suggested by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa – you first iron out the issue of various bureaucratic impediments that prevent Sri Lankan exports from entering the Indian market in the agreed quantitities, and ensure the proper functioning of the FTA to the extent that Sri Lankan stakeholders feel that everything that can practically be exported to India is moving smoothly without any impediments. After operating the FTA in that manner for some years, you then go onto the next step of working out the details of an ETCA with India – The Island.
Power failures deal blackout blow to Govt.
It was a week of shocks and aftershocks that jolted the United National Front Government and shattered the high wave of popularity it enjoyed among the people. Main among the issues was last Sunday’s countrywide electricity blackout, the third in just six months. It exposed the Government’s inability to cope with the crisis situation that followed – Sunday Times.