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Health Ministry yet to respond to HRCSL’s concerns



Covid-19 response:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) says the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena has yet to respond to issues raised by the outfit with regard to mismanagement and shortcomings in the ongoing Covid-19 inoculation drive.

A HRCSL spokesperson yesterday (2) told The Island that HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, in a letter dated May 28 sought a clarification from DGHS by or before June 15 However, the anticipated response was yet to be received.

According to a copy of the HRCSL letter, in Sinhalese, received by The Island, The HRCSL raised the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccinations amidst accusations regarding serious malpractices and mismanagement received from the health sector and various other services as well.

Former parliamentarian Dr. Balasuriya has requested DGHS to formulate an effective vaccination map and bring it to the notice of the HRCSL by or before June 15. The DGHS hasn’t responded so far though the time lapsed over two weeks ago, the spokesperson said.

Dr. Gunawardena didn’t answer his phone yesterday.

Former lawmaker M.M. Zuhair, PC, said that in spite of the media repeatedly highlighting the deficiencies in the inoculation drive those in authority appeared to have turned a blind eye to the pathetic situation. Zuhair said that the recent television coverage of those over 70 years of age in a queue to receive AstraZeneca aka Covishield vaccine showed they were badly exposed both to elements and the virus. It also exposed the incompetence of the health administration. Having launched the inoculation drive on January 29, authorities had ample time to streamline the process over the next few months, the civil society activist said. Unfortunately, the way those senior citizens had suffered throughout this week for want of a streamlined process was appalling, the one-time Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Teheran said.

The HRCSL expressed concern over the inordinate delay in the DGHS responding to their letter which at the onset appreciated the role played by the health sector in meeting the Covid-19 threat. However, the HRCSL’s concerns raised in terms of Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act (No. 21 of 1996) couldn’t be ignored under any circumstances though they understood the difficulties experienced by the health administration.


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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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