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GL: Govt. not concerned about corruption despite Geneva warning



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Rebel SLPP MP Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (10) said that corruption accusations pertaining to procurement of crude oil and coal should be probed against the backdrop of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) alleging economic crimes in Sri Lanka.

The former External Affairs Minister said that in a resolution passed at the recently concluded 51 sessions of the UNHRC, the global body called on Sri Lanka to get a grip on its economic crisis and prosecute corruption by public officials.

The 19-point resolution was brought by 37 countries, including Britain, Canada and the United States, and was passed with 20 votes in favour and seven against.

On behalf of the government, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, strongly objected to the draft resolution intruding into domestic, economic and financial policy matters.

Prof. Peiris questioned the rationale behind the government declaring its intention to enact an anti-corruption Act without taking tangible measures to curb waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.

The former law professor flayed the government for not placing the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) under the chairmanship of an Opposition lawmaker. Referring to parliamentary practice in Commonwealth countries, Prof. Peiris said that both the COPE and the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) should have been placed under Opposition members. The government, while placing the COPA under SJB MP Kabir Hashim, appointed SLPP National List MP Prof. Ranjith Bandara, Chairman of the COPE.

Prof. Peiris warned the government of dire consequences unless the Parliament was allowed to take charge of public finance. The warning from Geneva shouldn’t be ignored, lawmaker Prof. Peiris said, pointing out the growing controversy over the procurement of crude oil and coal for the Lakvijaya coal-fired power plant.

No less a person than the Auditor General has found fault with procurement of coal, Prof. Peiris said, adding that those who robbed the country, at a time the vast majority of people were struggling to make ends meet, would be punished. They would be subjected to no holds barred investigation, the former minister said.

Responding to The Island queries, Prof. Peiris said that the UNHRC wouldn’t accept the usual promise to have domestic actions against corruption, against the backdrop of fresh corruption cases. The MP pointed out that corruption charges, pertaining to procurement of crude oil and coal, emerged close on the heels of the Central Bank declaring Sri Lanka’s status as a bankrupt country.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who won the last presidential election, in 2019 Nov., with an unprecedented 6.9 mn votes, had to give up the presidency and flee the country, as a result of the economic fallout. “The people demanded a change of the system. Now, in place of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the SLPP installed UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe,” MP Peiris said.

It would be a grave mistake, on the part of the SLPP, to believe the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government could hoodwink the people, thereby creating an environment conducive for Wickremesinghe to complete the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, Prof. Peiris said.

Referring to SLPP Chairman Mahinda Rajapaksa’s declaration that President Ranil Wickremesinghe was with the SLPP now, Prof. Peiris said that perhaps as a result of Aragalaya, Wickremesinghe had become part of the ruling party.

Commenting on the postponement of the scheduled debate on the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, last week, Prof. Peiris said that, that piece of law would never be enacted as long as it prohibit dual citizens from contesting parliamentary and presidential polls.

Prof. Peiris said that it was the reality. The SLPP Chairman pointed out that the General Secretary of the Party, Sagara Kariyawasam, declared their opposition to the 22nd Amendment in spite of it being endorsed by the Cabinet-of-Ministers, headed by the President. In an obvious reference to SLPP strongman Basil Rajapaksa, Prof. Peiris alleged that a hidden hand was manipulating the government and was blatantly interfering in parliamentary proceedings.

Prof. Peiris said that the joint Opposition would strongly campaign against the moves to put off Local Governments polls, the way they sabotaged the Provincial Council polls. The former Minister said that the courts would be moved against this move. President Wickremesinghe’s recent declaration that key amendments would be introduced before the next Local Government polls was a clear indication to put polls on the bogus pretext of reforms.


Report on child protection delivered to President




The Committee appointed to Study and Make Recommendations for the Protection of Children handed over their comprehensive report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday (03) evening.

This committee was established on April 19, 2023, to study and provide recommendations for the protection, care and overall welfare of children who have been subjected to various forms of violence within Sri Lanka.

Over the course of nearly five months, the committee conducted 21 meetings to gain an in-depth understanding of the existing issues and to formulate practical recommendations. The committee comprised a diverse group of members, including representatives from institutions such as Children Homes, Remand Homes, Certified Homes, Child Development Centres, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions & Associations, Principals of Schools, Civil Society Organizations, Telecommunication and Digital Service Providers, Telecommunication Regulators, Digital Crime Security Experts, Lions Club, Rotaract Club, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Colleges of Medicine, Solicitors General from the Attorney General’s Department, National Child Protection Authority, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Family Health Bureau, Foreign Employment Bureau, Sri Lanka Women’s’ Bureau and officials from the Ministries in charge of Women & Children and Education.

The report, which was completed and submitted to the President yesterday, addresses a wide range of issues concerning child protection, including issues related to institutionalized environments, lack of parental care, family separation, digital media exposure, child labour and more. The committee also evaluated the adequacy of existing institutional, administrative and legal safeguards for child protection, aiming to meet the demands of modern society.

Furthermore, the report explores strategies to enhance the physical and mental health of children who have experienced various forms of violence, abuse and neglect. It also delves into the concerning trend of children engaging in violent acts and seeks innovative approaches for community participation in child care initiatives

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Landslide Early Warnings Issued to Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts extended




Automated Landslide Early Warning Map issued by the Landslide Early Warning Center of the NBRO

The landslide early warnings issued by the landslide early warning center of the National Building Research Organisation to the districts of Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts have been extended untill 1630 hrs today.

Level II landslid early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of  Neluwa in the Galle district, Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, Pasbage Korale in the Kandy district, Kotapola and Pitabeddara in the Matara district, Ayagama, Kuruwita, Pelmadulla, Nivithigala, Kiriella, Ratnapura, Elapatha, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana in the Ratnapura district.

Level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Seethawaka in the Colombo district, Elpitiya in the Galle district, Walasmulla in the Hambanthota district, Mathugama, Buathsinhala, Aggalawaththa and Walallawita in the Kalutara district, Yatiyanthota, Kegalle and Dehiowita in the Kegalle district, Athureliya and Mulatiyana in the Matara district and Imbulpe and Kolonna in the Ratnapura district

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Opposition: Judge’s resignation has tarnished Lanka’s image



He should have taken action against those who threatened him – govt.

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that there were serious questions and concerns about the independence of the judiciary following the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge T. Saravanarajah, citing threats and harassment.

“This is a serious issue and the government should conduct an independent inquiry into this matter immediately,” Premadasa said.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the judge’s resignation, citing threats and harassment following his ruling on the Kurundimalai temple, had led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary. He said that the Mullaitivu Magistrate had been pressured to change his judgment.

Justice Minister,Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Sri Lankan judges had power to issue summons and take appropriate action against individuals who attempted to exert influence over them. He asked why the judge concerned had not used his powers.

Minister Rajapakshe said that the Opposition could file a contempt of court case if anyone had pressured the Mullaitivu Magistrate to reverse his judgment as claimed, without levelling allegations against the government.

The Minister said the government had no powers to investigate the matter involving the Magistrate and that the JSC was the relevant body to handle the matter and requested if anyone had any issue, they could complain to the Judicial Service Commission.

TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the whole world knew that there was pressure on the Judge. “The Minister cannot claim that there was no pressure on the judge.”

Minister Rajapakshe said that if there was anyone in the House who had exerted pressure on the judiciary it was MP Sumanthiran. He said MP Sumanthiran had on 20 October, 2022 told Parliament that the judges of the Supreme Court should be sent home. “You said in this House that people had no faith in the Supreme Court.”

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