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Catholic prelates write to Prez, demanding justice for Ishalini




KANDY – The Bishop of the Central Province Dr. Vianney Fernando has, in a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, requested a speedy investigation into the death of Jude Kumar Ishalini, 16, who died while working as a domestic worker at the residence of MP Rishad Bathiudeen.

The Bishop has asked the President to ensure that all those responsible for her death are brought to justice. Several other senior priests in the province, Fr. Ivan Jayasundara, Fr. Edwin Rodrigo and Fr. Nandana Manatunga are signatories to the letter.

The letter further says: “We are aware of at least another instance where a 17-year-old girl from another Parish in our diocese was raped. However, the judicial proceedings are still ongoing for nearly 20 years. The survivor has been attending hundreds of court hearings and must relive her ordeal again and again. We recognise the important role of the media in exposing such events, but we would also like to highlight the importance of respecting the privacy of the grieving family members.”

The priest have asked the President to take action to develop school education in the plantation sector and bring down the high school dropout rate. The estate sector communities need a reasonable and stable income, and this can be done through a minimum wage for estate workers and other income-generating activities, they have said.

They have also urged the President to introduce legal reforms to ensure that no one below 18 years would be employed as domestic workers, and ensure that domestic workers’ wellbeing and rights are protected. Domestic workers need to have reasonable working hours, leave, healthcare, decent accommodation with privacy, access to their families, contracts in a language understood by the workers, and the right to form and join trade unions.

The priests have asked the President for an appointment to present further proposals and discuss the issues faced by estate sector communities.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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