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HRCSL urged to stop eviction of people from Divulpothana in EP

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Ven. Ampitiye Sumanaratne Thera

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that attempts were being made to evict people from the Divulpothana village in the Batticaloa District, Ven. Ampitiye Sumanaratne thera, Chief Incumbent of Mangalaramaya, Batticaloa, has called for the immediate intervention of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to protect the rights of the victims.

In a four-page letter dated Oct. 23, 2023 handed over to the HRC on Monday, Ven. Sumanaratne Thera has claimed that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government has allowed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to intimidate the people living in Divulpothana and adjoining villages following an understanding the grouping reached with the incumbent administration regarding its support for President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the next presidential election.

The thera has alleged that relevant Mahaweli authorities and police at the behest of political leadership fully cooperated with the TNA and others interested in forcing the Sinhala families out of the Eastern Province.

The monk named TNA Batticaloa District MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam and Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) as the two main politicians involved in the sordid operation.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, convenor of the Federation of National Organizations told The Island that the situation was bad, and the law enforcement authorities had prevented Ven. Sumanaratne thera from entering his own temple.

Dr. Amarasekera said that nearly 15 years after the eradication of separatist terrorism brazen attempts were being made to force Sinhalese out of their villages. Referring to the simmering issue over Kurundi temple, Dr. Amarasekera insisted that intimidation of Divulpothana villagers was not an isolated development. “It was all part of a sinister strategy,” he said.

In his letter to the HRC, Ven. Sumanaratne Thera has highlighted what he calls a systematic campaign to deprive the Sinhala community of basic rights afforded to other communities.

Insisting that Divulpothana area has been inhabited by Sinhalese for a long time and there are 86 archaeological sites, the Ven. Thera has recalled how the LTTE carried out massacres to force the Sinhalese and Muslims out of the region. The evicted people hadn’t been able to return to their land until the government brought the war against the LTTE to a successful conclusion in May 2009, the Thera said, pointing out Mangalaramaya temple had intervened on their behalf and built 25 houses and a temple and facilitated efforts to restore normalcy.

The monk has alleged that the yahapalana administration succumbed to pressure from some Tamil and Muslim politicians and forced the people out of their homes after 2016 and allocated the entire area for grazing. Despite repeated appeals, the yahapalana government had turned a blind eye until the change of government following the last presidential election in Nov., 2019 paved the way for the return of the displaced families to Divulpothana and adjacent areas.

Sumanaratne Thera has said that since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ouster, the government had succumbed to TNA pressure and was in the process of forcing the Sinhalese out of Divulpothana.

Ven. Sumanaratne has said that Mahaweli authorities moved Eravur Magistrate’s Court against a group of 13 families, alleging that they were forcibly occupying state land. The monk alleged that those who lived there regardless of immense difficulties and threats to their lives were being relentlessly harassed by state officials.

It has been claimed that land is required for grazing of around 700,000 cattle but the number of cattle was 150,000, the Thera’s petition says.

The monk has alleged that following a meeting MP Rasamanickam and EP Governor Thondaman had at the Presidential Secretariat on 15 Oct., a lie had been propagated in and outside parliament via social media that the police deployed in the Eastern Province didn’t carry out instructions issued by President Wickremesinghe.

The monk claimed that subsequently, Karadiyanaru police had prevented him from proceeding towards his own temple in Divulpothana thereby violating his rights.

The monk has alleged that a Buddha statue placed by him at Weheragodalla temple in Divulpothana had disappeared. The monk has urged the HRC to inquire into his complaint and take necessary action.



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United Republic Front presents ‘A united step for the country’ to the President

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Leader of the United Republic Front Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, presented the proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe , at ‘Srikota’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo this morning (24).

Speaking at the event President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda for the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debt.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding queries about the scheduling of elections, affirmed that the Presidential Election will proceed as scheduled, with the General Election anticipated to take place early next year.

 

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Opp. fears govt. discarding SC recommendations on ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill

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Prof. G. L. Peiris

Prof. Peiris highlights need for ex post facto judicial review

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, MP, said that Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s refusal to accept that Supreme Court recommendations hadn’t been accommodated in ‘Online Safety Act No 09 of 2024’, would undermine their faith in the committee stage of a particular Bill.

The dissident SLPP MP said so when The Island sought his opinion on the SC determination on the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Against the backdrop of the continuing controversy over the circumstances under which the Parliament enacted the ‘Online Safety Bill’, the Opposition was seriously concerned about the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government adopting the same strategy in passing the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Prof. Peiris emphasised that the Speaker even ignored the Human Rights Commission advice that SC’s recommendations hadn’t been accommodated. The academic, who recently aligned himself with the SJB, said that the genuine Opposition shared his concerns.

Several parties challenged the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill in the SC in terms of Article 121(1) of the Constitution. The determination of the SC as to the Constitutionality of the Bill concluded as—

(a) Clause 3, Clause 42, Clause 53, and Clause 70 of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and required a special majority to be passed by Parliament.

(b) However, the SC stated that the said inconsistencies can be ceased if the said Clauses are amended as per the Determination of the Court.

(b) Clause 4 has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination. Clause 72 (1) is unconstitutional and needs to be passed by a Special Majority and a Referendum. The unconstitutionality will cease if this Clause is amended as per the Determination of the Supreme Court.

(c) Correspondingly, Clause 72(2) must be amended in accordance with the Determination.

(d) Clause 75 (3) infringed the Article 4 (c) read with Article 3 of the Constitution and required 2/3 majority and a Referendum. The invalidity will cease 7 upon the amendments suggested in the Determination.

(f) Clause 83 (7) requires a special majority to be passed into law. It has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination.

Further, the Supreme Court has determined that subject to the amendments that have adumbrated to the provisions of the Bill by the Supreme Court, the Bill could be enacted into law with a Simple Majority only if the amendments determined by the Supreme Court are introduced to the provisions.

Prof Peiris said that the crisis highlighted the need for ex post facto judicial review, for which there is at present no provision in Sri Lanka. The position is otherwise in countries like the USA and India where an Act of Parliament can be impugned, even after completion of the legislative process, on the ground of conflict with imperative provisions of the Constitution. Such provision existed in Sri Lanka prior to the First Republican Constitution of 1972.

The former minister said that in the draft Constitution Bill which he presented to Parliament on 3 August 2000 on behalf of the Government of President CBK, appropriate provision in this regard was included. “Unfortunately, the Constitution was burnt in the Chamber of Parliament. This gap in our law should be filled, in my view, when a comprehensive exercise in constitutional reform is undertaken by a new Administration after the conduct of national elections this year.”

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US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma visits Sri Lanka

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Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America Richard Verma visited Sri Lanka from last Thursday to yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and delegation had extensive discussions with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on further strengthening bilateral cooperation. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State also paid a courtesy call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe following the discussions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, while appreciating the humanitarian and emergency assistance granted by the U.S. to overcome the economic challenges encountered by Sri Lanka, welcomed the recent US$ 553 million development assistance extended by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to the Colombo West International Terminal Private Limited. He also appreciated the U.S. assistance in securing the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) from the IMF.

Foreign Minister Sabry briefed Deputy Secretary of State Verma on Sri Lanka’s priorities as Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the opportunities to foster collaboration in blue economy and maritime security in the region to promote freedom of navigation for all and for the facilitation of trade and commerce. He also apprised the Deputy Secretary of State of the Government’s efforts to further strengthen governance, democracy, and rule of law, as well as to combat corruption.

Deputy Secretary of State Verma while noting the encouraging progress in Sri Lanka following the economic downturn in the last two years, assured continuous U.S. assistance to the country towards economic prosperity.

The Deputy Secretary of State was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, senior officials from the White House National Security Council, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defence. Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Jauhar and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were associated with the Foreign Minister at the meeting.

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