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British govt. announces travel bans and asset freezes for human rights violators



By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

The British government sounded a stern warning to, what it termed “human rights violators in the world” by announcing travel bans and freezing of assets of 11 Russian, Venezuelan, Gambian and Pakistani politicians and officials, on December 10, which marked International Human Rights Day.

Announcing the sanctions, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “Today’s sanctions send a clear message to human rights violators that the UK will hold them to account.

“The UK and our allies are shining a light on the severe and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by those sanctioned today. Globally Britain will stand up for democracy, human rights and the rule of law as a force for good in the world.”

The UK was acting alongside the US which also announced new designations under its human rights regime.

The British government was imposed sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on three Russian individuals and the Terek Special Rapid Response Unit responsible for torture and other human rights violations against LGBT people in Chechnya.

Sanctions will be imposed on senior security figures in Venezuela responsible for human rights violations in Maduro’s illegitimate regime.

The former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh and Ahmad Anwar Khan, the former Senior Superintendent of Police in Malir District in Pakistan are also facing sanctions for “historic human rights violations including extrajudicial killings of protestors and minority groups”.


The full list of designations is as follows:


* Rafael Bastardo, Commander of FAES (Special Action Forces) until 2019.

* Remigio Ceballos Ichaso, Head of the Strategic Command Operations of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (CEOFANB)

* Fabio Zavarse Pabon, Commander of the National Guard (GNB).


Russian Federation

* Magomed Daudov, Spokesperson/Chairperson of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic.

* Aiub Kataev, Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation in Argun.

* Apti Alaudinov, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic and Major General of the Police.

* Terek Special Rapid Response Unit,


The Gambia

* Yahya Abdul Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh, former President of The Gambia.

* Yankuba Badjie, former Director-General of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

* Zineb Jammeh, former First Lady of The Gambia

and wife of Yahya Jammeh.



* Anwar Ahmad Khan, former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Malir District, Karachi.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 



By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre



By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments




The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.


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