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‘Journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes’ – Karu Jayasuriya

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‘We see a different media culture’

In recent times, we see a different media culture. Instead of attacking them, journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes. Their computers are taken away and they are harassed. They are forced to make false statements. Some fabricate blatant lies to ensure the win of their favored politicians, says Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ).

“Character assassination has become common. They create racial and religious divisions. Religion has been made a commodity. As a result, we, as a country, are facing an unprecedented challenge. It is the next generation that will have to face the repercussions”, the former Speaker said at an event to commemorate journalists who laid down their lives for media freedom.

“Journalists will face many challenges in the future to protect media freedom. I will remain with you and continue to support you on that journey”, he stressed.

“Today, we are fulfilling a national duty. The eminent journalists we remember today have sacrificed their lives for us. According to reports, at least 117 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 1981. An innumerable number have been subjected to great repression. Remembering these incidents causes us great mental anguish. Is it possible that such cruel and inhuman acts could take place in a civilized country?”, he asked.

“Today, you and I are gathered here to pay our respects to those great people. Or in other words to pay off our debts we owe them. The last such commemoration ceremony was held five years ago in 2015.The then convener of the Free Media Movement, Sunil Jayasekara is here today. The late Saman Wagaarachchi also greatly supported this endeavour”, Jayasuriya continued.

The National Movement for Social Justice would like to thank the team of journalists who proposed and organized this event. They worked hard and made many sacrifices for it. I would also like to thank the Journalists’ Association for a Just Society for its contribution towards event. Convener Priyantha Srilal and his team made many commitments and worked hard to make it a reality, he said.

He further said: “We are well aware of the plight of our journalists in the past. We recall how we sprung into action when journalists were shot at, when their homes and offices were bombed and when they were brutally assaulted. We have met some of the senior journalists here at some of those places. We are glad to see them here again. Today, we were able to meet Dharmasiri Bandaranaike and several members of the group who were hospitalized after being assaulted at Kumbukgete, Kurunegala and artistes who came under severe repression in Nittambuwa. They shed blood for a free and clean media.

“Journalism is a dignified service. It is the duty of an impartial journalist to provide truthful information to the public. But today journalists have to submit to the orders of certain newspaper chiefs. They are forced to fabricate stories or to create lies out of the truth.

“They are being used to assassinate the characters of certain individuals and to magnify the characters of others. This is the media culture of some of our institutions. Recently, we saw new newspapers launched. We congratulate all those institutions. I wish you the strength to move forward while defending the noble ethics of the media.

“Despite all this, it is fortunate that still there are respectable journalists in our country who carry out their media mission in accordance with their conscience. We salute them. We must change this hypocritical culture. It is the duty of those here to lead that fight. Knowing true and correct information is a basic human right. We did not win these rights easily. We don’t know to what extent that right will be protected under the 20th Amendment. But we will continue to stand for these rights.

“Finally I wish to make one important explanation before you. We continue to move forward in accordance with the vision put forward by Ven. Sobhitha Thera for justice, truth and fairness. We are an independent, impartial civil society organization. We do not have an ambition to create kings, presidents or prime ministers. But we have to protect the fundamental rights of the people of this country, which were destroyed by the 20th Amendment. It is that dangerous

“We kindly ask the authorities to not deprive the people of their right as we already see concerning signs. We will stand up and fully commit ourselves to protect these rights for our future generation”.



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Lord Naseby asks why Adele not prosecuted in UK for child recruitment

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Lord Naseby President of the UK all party British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary group has questioned the failure on the part of the UK to prosecute senior LTTE leader Adela Balasingham, wife of the outfit’s late theoretician Anton Balasingham. Lord Naseby said that Adele, who had been involved with the LTTE for several decades, was responsible for recruitment and deployment of child soldiers.

The following is the text of the statement issued by Lord Naseby in response to the UK statement at the Human Rights Council by Lord Tariq Ahmad on Feb 25:

“I am astounded how the UK or any other Member of the Core Group can possibly welcome the High Commissioner’s so called ‘detailed and most comprehensive report on Sri Lanka’ when it is riddled with totally unsubstantiated allegations and statements completely ignoring the huge effort to restore infrastructure and rehouse displaced Tamils and Muslims, who lost their homes due to the Tamil Tigers.

“Furthermore, I question how the UK Government knowingly and apparently consciously withheld vital evidence from the despatches of the UK military attaché Col. Gash. Evidence I obtained from a Freedom of Information request, resisted by the Foreign Office at every stage for over 2 years. These dispatches from an experienced and dedicated senior British officer in the field makes it clear that the Sri Lankan armed forces at every level acted and behaved appropriately, trying hard not to harm any Tamil civilians who were held by the Tamil Tigers as hostages in a human shield.

“This conscious decision totally undermines the UK‘s standing as an objective Leader of the Core Group; made even worse by the impunity for not prosecuting the LTTE leader living in the UK, largely responsible for recruiting, training and deploying over 5,000 Child Soldiers – a real War Crime. It is time that the UK Government acknowledges and respects the recommendations of the Paranagama Commission, which involved several international expert advisers, including from the UK – Sir Desmond de Silva QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Rodney Dixon QC and Major General John Holmes. Sri Lanka and the UK should be honouring the recommendations of the Paranagama Commission, which provides real evidence over all the years of the conflict, rather than just focussing on uncorroborated claims during a few months in 2009, only when the war concluded.

“Furthermore, the criticism of the way Covid has been handled with no burials for anyone based entirely on scientific advice at a time when there was no advice from WHO shows no understanding. Following the scientific advice from WHO and Sri Lanka’s scientists, burials are now permitted. The UN ignores the fact that only about 400 people on a population of 22m have sadly died in Sri Lanka, whereas no less than 120,000+ have died in the UK with a population of 66 million. By any yardstick Sri Lanka has been more successful at saving lives than any member of the Core Group.

“It seems to me that the Core Group needs to have more faith in the reconciliation structures already on the ground such as the Office of Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations. If the UN Core Group really wants to help, then why cannot the UK, Canada and Germany release to Sri Lanka the names of all asylum seekers since the war so that they can be checked against the list of Missing Persons and be removed from the master list?

“During the period of the Sirisena/Wickremesinghe government, draft legislation for a Truth & Reconciliation Commission was prepared and the current government should be given the time and space, whilst also handling the pandemic, to introduce its own TRC mechanism. Britain should stand in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as a unique TRC is developed and is implemented. Reconciliation cannot be externally forced on to the people of Sri Lanka. It must come from within and I would also urge the diaspora communities living in the Core Group countries to also trust, engage with and contribute towards Sri Lanka’s reconciliation processes.

It is for Sri Lanka to decide how much help they seek from outside but for me I doubt the need or the efficacy of the UNHRC being able to help in an enhanced monitoring role as proposed.”

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SJB finds fault with recommendations of political victimisation PCoI

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By Saman Indrajith

The SJB yesterday found fault with the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that investigated incidents of political victimization for arrogating to itself the powers of the judiciary.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office, Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said: “The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the incidents of political victimisation has usurped the powers of courts.

MP Kiriella said that PCoI or any one including the Executive should not encroach on the powers of the judiciary. The MPs had a right to stand against it. “We have a constitutional right to prevent this. As per the provisions of the Article 4 of the Constitution people have given their sovereign powers of exercising judicial power to Parliament. It is by parliament through the courts or any other tribunal accepted by the law the judicial powers are exercised. A presidential commission of inquiry has not been given powers of courts. The PCoI headed by retired Justice Upali Abeyratne arrogated to itself the powers of courts as per the recommendations the commission made in its report,” Kiriella said.

He said that the PCoI had recommended that cases pending before in the Magistrate and High Courts be stopped. “Victims have been turned into complainants and complainants into offenders. The PCoI has made recommendations to acquit those implicated in numerous offences. The commission has recommended that some of those who violated the laws be acquitted and compensated. A PCoI has no such powers. We have expressed our opposition to this. We actually have submitted a petition to the Chief Justice on Tuesday against the PCoI hijacking the powers of the court.”

The MP said that PCoI’s usurping of court powers was a serious matter that should be rectified immediately. “We have utmost faith in the judiciary of this country. Courts have maintained their independence very bravely in the face of many challenges. You may recall that when there was a constitutional coup in 2018 October, the court did not succumb to political pressure

and declared the ouster of our government unconstitutional. If the PCoIs are allowed to usurp the powers of judiciary then the public would lose their faith in courts.”

SJB MPs J.C. Alawathuwala and Harin Fernando also addressed the press.

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Explosion of credit to private sector this year at low interest to ensure economic recovery – CB

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A record Rs. 850 billion worth of credit would be given to the private sector by the Banks in 2021, CBSL’s Director of Economic Research Dr. Chandranath Amarasekera told the media yesterday.

The increase in the Private sector credit growth would be due to low interest rates, introduction of loan targets for selected segments of the SME sector and the increase in demand for credit as investor confidence booms, Dr. Amarasekera said.

CBSL had already commenced a dialogue with banks to iron out issues that might arise, he said.

Dr. Amarasekera said that the Standing Deposit Facility Rate will remain at 4.5% and the Standing Lending Facility Rate will remain at 5.5%. The Monetary Board decided to keep the policy interest rates unchanged considering the global and local situation, he said.

The Board also decided to keep interest rates low until the economy showed a sustainable recovery, Dr. Amarasekera said.

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