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India, Japan skip vote on Sri Lanka resolution adopted at UNHRC

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* 22 vote for, 11 against and 14 abstained

* Russia, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines stand with Lanka

By Shamindra Ferdinando

India skipped yesterday’s vote on the UK-led resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ as the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the resolution.

Of the 47 countries, 22 voted for the resolution, and 11 voted against it with 14 abstaining. Sri Lanka is not a member of the UNHRC. The US, which is also not a UNHRC member, declared its support for the resolution.

The resolution was the first to be put to the vote in keeping with the e-voting procedures established for the UNHRC 46th Session, which has been held virtually. On behalf of Sri Lanka, China called for a vote after Sri Lanka’s efforts to reach a consensus on the resolution proposed by the UK-led Core group failed.

In the run-up to yesterday’s vote, the government requested India to back Sri Lanka.

Foreign Secretary retired Admiral Jayanath Colombage is on record as having said that the government requested Premier Modi, in writing, to throw its weight behind Sri Lanka.

Yesterday’s defeat was the fourth suffered by Sri Lanka at the UNHRC since 2012. Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

Asian nations China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines voted against the resolution along with Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Eritrea, Somalia and Uzbekistan.

South Korea in spite of close relations with

Sri Lanka voted against the country at the behest of the US.

The resolution received the backing of the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Ukraine, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Côte D’ivoire, Czechoslovakia, Fiji, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Poland, Korea and Uruguay.

Along with India, Japan-both members of the US led military alliance against China abstained. Nepal and Indonesia, too, regardless of their close relations with Sri Lanka succumbed to pressure to skip the vote. Other countries to abstain were Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Senegal, Sudan and Togo.

The resolution calls for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including progress on reconciliation and accountability, and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-eighth session, as well as a written update at its forty-ninth session, and a comprehensive report that includes further options for advancing accountability, at its fifty-first session, both to be discussed in the context of an interactive dialogue.

The resolution also urged the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps.

The EU member states and those aligned with US led Western powers either voted for the resolution or abstained.

 

 

 



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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament

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Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.

 

 

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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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