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Lockdown has resulted in an increase in domestic violence in Sri Lanka



The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence (NFAGBV) in Sri Lanka has called for immediate attention to the challenges faced by victims of domestic violence during the pandemic, related lockdowns.

Domestic violence has been recognized globally as a widespread violation of human rights even prior to the pandemic.

In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries including Sri Lanka have employed travel restrictions, directions to stay and work from home, and limited access to courts.

NFAGBV says these measures have directly resulted in a manifold increase in domestic violence and have placed unprecedented challenges in the way of victims.

The UN Secretary-General recognizing the ‘horrifying global surge in domestic violence’ has called for a ‘ceasefire at home’.

Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, there has been an increased demand for support services in regards to domestic violence to which the Members of the National Forum have been responding in various capacities.

“Whilst we acknowledge and commend the response taken by the Government to operationalize the National Hotline 1938 for 24 hrs, there are further challenges that require immediate attention. The concern is that failing to respond may result in serious harm or fatalities,” NFAGBV said.

The legal obligation to protect is reflected in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2005 (PDVA) and the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015.

The current challenge is to offer practical and effective responses to these incidents, particularly by first responders.

“We are concerned about instances of failure to believe victim narratives that cause fear and inflict blame and shame on the survivors, demanding victims to return to their abusers and the failure to provide them with support and referrals,” NFAGBV said.

As a national body of state and non-governmental organizations working against gender-based violence in Sri Lanka, the National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence called on the respective Sri Lankan authorities in law enforcement and social services to urgently adopt standard protocols on responding to domestic violence specific to the pandemic.

“Ensure that calls for assistance are responded to promptly, that survivors are not burdened or re-victimized by being compelled to return to abusive homes or attend inquiries during travel restrictions, survivors are assisted in terms of securing medical treatment, examinations by Judicial Medical Officers for maintenance of official records, and referred to public and private institutions providing care, assistance and protection during this time,” the National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence said.

It also called on the justice sector of the country to deploy without delay, a mechanism for survivors in need of urgent protection orders to secure such orders by means of online applications in terms of the PDVA.

The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence sought the support of the Sri Lanka Police to communicate protection orders to respondents, and to monitor and respond to breaches of such protection orders.

It also called on the leaders of political and administrative offices to highlight the importance of safeguarding the rights of and providing safe and non-judgmental protection to survivors of violence is crucial at this juncture.

“Bearing in mind that the impact of the violence experienced during this time is likely to have long-term socio-economic costs and inter-generational consequences, the urgency for public messaging and measures cannot be overstated,” NFAGBV said.

The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence said that such messages and measures will make a difference to those needing assistance and will embolden and empower communities to assist survivors of domestic violence. Let us work together to make this difference.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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