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HRCSL concerned over health and threats to Shani’s life

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‘Law mandates us to ensure welfare of those deprived of liberty’

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has written to Commissioner General of Prisons, Thushara Upuldeniya, expressing surprise over former CID director Shani Abeysekara being transferred to the Treatment Centre for prisoners at Gallella despite his multiple health issues.

In a letter to the Commissioner General, Ramani Muttettuwegama, HRCSL’s Commissioner in charge of Investigations and Inquiries, refers to its November 25, 2020 letter drawing attention to the concerns regarding health and threats to life of Abeysekara who has apparently contracted the COVID-19 virus while at the Mahara Prison.

“We have been made to understand that better treatment is available at the Welikanda Treatment Hospital. As you are aware the health and security of all prisoners including remandees, remain the responsibility of the Commissioner General of Prisons. Given the concerns already conveyed to you regarding security issues, we ask you to take immediate steps secure Abeysekara and ensure the best possible treatment”, the letter said.

“It may be best to transfer Abeyskera to the Welikanda Treatment Hospital. Further, his family has informed us that they have no information regarding his health situation or his whereabouts. We urge you to immediately keep families of all prisoners infected by the COVID-19 virus informed of their whereabouts and provide them with the results of their PCR Test”, the HRCSL further said.

It added: “We are also receiving many complaints from family members desperate for information regarding their loved ones in custody. Therefore, we suggest that you provide us with an updated list of all prisoners affected by the virus and their current location and treatment. We would welcome the appointment of a contact person in each treatment in case further information is required by family members”.

HRCSL clarified that the letter was sent under powers vested in itunder the HRCSL Act, No. 21 of 1996 10 (b), 11 (d), 28(2) where the Commission is specially mandated to ensure the welfare of those deprived of liberty.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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