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Admonishes the system “lacked a sense of crisis”

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Immigration Services Agency of Japan releases final report on the death of a Sri Lankan woman

The Immigration Services Agency of Japan on Tuesday (10) released a final report on the death of a Sri Lankan woman at a regional detention centre in central Japan, pointing to the lack of a proper medical response after she said she was feeling unwell and stating that the facility “lacked a sense of crisis and failed to accurately grasp the circumstances as an organisation,” said a report published by the Japanese daily The Mainichi.

The report filed from Tokyo said: The Sri Lankan woman, Wishma Sandamali, then 33, died at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau in Aichi Prefecture on March 6, after she complained of nausea and numbness starting on Jan. 15 and her condition subsequently deteriorated. She had been detained at the facility since August last year after overstaying her visa since January 2019. She first came to Japan in 2017 as an international student.

The final report acknowledged that Wishma died of illness, but stated that the detailed process leading up to her death could not be determined as several factors likely played a role. The report said the regional immigration bureau’s medical response to her complaint of feeling unwell and the notable changes in her physical condition was insufficient, and presented measures for improvement to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.

The Immigration Services Agency has admonished the then head and deputy head of the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau, and gave strict warnings to a security supervisor and another official.

The final report delved into the Nagoya immigration bureau’s medical response system. It pointed out that the detention centre had a limited medical arrangement in which it was allowed to assign a part-time internal medicine doctor only twice a week. The report then stated that senior bureau officials ought to have properly gotten a grasp of Wishma and other detainees’ physical conditions and their requests for medical examinations, and deliberated and called for the necessary responses, but that the officials failed to develop such a system.

The report revealed that many of the guards at the bureau suspected that Wishma’s complaints about poor health were “an exaggerated appeal to be granted provisional release,” raising issues for future investigation such as staff education and the assignment of interpreters to understand detainees’ physical conditions through communication.

During her detention, Wishma twice filed a request for provisional release, but her wishes were not granted. The final report said the bureau “should flexibly grant provisional release” to those with poor health conditions. As Wishma had claimed that she was subject to violence from a former partner, the report cited the need to reflect on the fact that the local bureau failed to investigate whether she was a victim of domestic violence. It also cited the need to share the content of appeals from detainees’ supporters as something that must be addressed.

In light of these points at issue, the final report produced improvement plans in order for the bureau to “advance reforms to make it an internally and externally reliable organization that respects human rights.” Specifically, the report cited measures such as the reform of all workers’ awareness, boosting its medical system, and ensuring appropriate judgment on provisional release in light of foreign detainees’ health conditions.

The agency’s investigation team probing the background to Wishma’s death conducted a total of 139 interviews with 63 individuals concerned, and also sought opinions from external specialists.



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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE

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Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm

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By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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