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LTTE banned in every country in Europe as it has not given up violence and terrorism – FM Dinesh Gunawardena



Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Monday (30) told the Consultative Committee meeting on foreign affairs that the LTTE remained banned organization in every country in Europe as it had not given up on violence and terrorism, the Department of Communication of Parliament said in a statement issued yesterday.

The following is the text of the statement:

The Minister stated that the Ministry and the government are fully aware of the matter and is acting with a diplomatic outlook. He stated this in expressing his views pertaining to concerns raised by the Members of Parliament Suren Raghavan and Gamini Waleboda.

Addressing the committee, the Foreign Secretary Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage stated that there is no ban on repatriating Lankans stranded abroad. He pointed out that the process had only slowed down due to the emergence of the Peliyagoda and Minuwangoda COVID clusters as there was a dearth of facilities in the quarantine centres. Furthermore, the Secretary stated that the process has now gained momentum and relevant measures are taken to bring down citizens back to Sri Lanka. He further pointed out that 47, 000 from 126 countries have been repatriated to-date.

The Secretary stated the above in response to a concern raised by Member of Parliament Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam when he disclosed that many Sri Lankan nationals who have travelled abroad prior to the closure of the airport are now stuck in foreign soil as they are barred from returning.

MPs Charles Nirmalanathan and Sivagnanam Shritharan disclosed that almost 100,000 sought asylum in South India during the war and 80% are now registered and recognized by the government. However, they pointed out that there are 20% unregistered Sri Lankan refugees in South India wanting to return to Sri Lanka but the Indian Government is demanding the Visa fee amounting to the number of years they have been residing in India in order to grant leave.

 Responding to the said concern, the Minister stated that discussions have also been held with leaders such as S.C Chandra Hasan and the President has approved looking into the issue when the COVID crisis hit the country in March. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister stated that the Ministry acknowledges this issue and they have already intervened to bring down the Sri Lankan refugees back home in due course.

 Member of Parliament Diana Gamage raised her concerns pertaining to the safety assurance of Sri Lankan labour force in the Middle East at the committee.

In response the Foreign Secretary emphasized that 40% of such labour in the Middle East have not entered its borders following proper procedures. Acknowledging the concern raised, the Secretary stated that the Ministry and all respective authorities are working on finding a solution to the issue.

MP Diana Gamage also questioned the status of the under aged Japanese girl, who it has been claimed, to have been kidnapped. Foreign Secretary Admiral Professor Colombage stated that the matter should be left for the course of law to take charge but they too are keeping an eye on the development in that regard.

 The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was attended by State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya together with more than 20 MPs including (Dr.) Kavinda Heshan Jayawardana, Suren Raghavan, Gamini Waleboda, Yadamini Gunawardena, Charles Nirmalanathan, Udayakantha Gunathilaka, Sivagnanam Shritharan, Udayana Kirindigoda, Diana Gamage, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and many officials representing the respective authorities.

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About 232 out of 500 escapees from K’kadu Drug Rehab Centre arrested



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Two hundred and thirty two inmates out of the 500, who escaped from the Kandakadu Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, yesterday morning, following a clash with soldiers guarding the facility, had been arrested, Maj. Gen. Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commissioner General – Rehabilitation, said.

Hettiarachchi denied allegations from certain quarters that they had allowed inmates to escape to divert public attention away from the burning economic issues, and crippling fuel shortages.

He said an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the death of an inmate.

Hettiarachchi said that they were confident that other escapees too would be arrested soon.

Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said a 36-year-old inmate had died under mysterious circumstances on Tuesday. The deceased was a resident of Mutwal. The death of the inmate had been reported to the Welikanda police, he said.

The Police Spokesman added that a team of policemen from Welikanda had visited the Rehabilitation Centre. However, a large number of inmates had surrounded the body and did not allow anyone near it and that had led to a clash between inmates and the military personnel at the centre.

At around 8 am yesterday, a large group of inmates had broken the two main gates and escaped, he added.

The Police Spokesman said that the police and Army had brought the situation under control, after several hours.

They have also launched a joint operation to arrest the inmates, who are still at large.

There are around 1,000 drug addicts being rehabilitated at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center at any given time.

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Women parliamentarians’ Caucus calls for greater accountability and transparency



International Day of Parliamentarism

Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle says accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system have become vital issues as the country makrs the International Day of Parliamentarism today (30).

In a statement issued to the media by the Caucus, Dr Fernandopulle said: International Day of Parliamentarism, which recognises the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. This Day was first established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution adopted in 2018 which also marked the 129th anniversary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU, which was first established on the same day in the year 1889, is a global organization that works to promote ‘democratic governance, human representation, democratic values, and the civil aspirations of a society’.

This Day further solidifies the unique and enduring system of parliamentary democracy as the standard for political representation. Last year, in 2021, the Day focused on “Youth Empowerment” in Parliament whereas the theme for the International Day of Parliamentarism 2022 is “Public Engagement”. Conspicuously, the word ‘parliament’ originates from the French word ‘parler,’ which means ‘to talk.’ Thus, public discourse and engagement lay the very foundation of the parliamentary system of governance.

At a juncture where public engagement in the democratic process is at an all-time high, the theme for International Day of Parliamentarism aptly suits the current democratic and economic discourse taking place in society.

The Parliament is a cornerstone of any democracy as it must fulfill its fundamental role of providing a voice to the voiceless. The main responsibilities of a Parliament include the formulation, enactment and overseeing of the implementation of laws and policies that are sustainable and crucial for the progression and stability of the country. The Parliament also has a duty to hold the Executive or Government of the country accountable. Accordingly, representing the interests of the public, it must also fulfill the role of acting as a “check” to “balance” the power that the executive holds.

The Parliament must also perform “checks” and “balances” on Government expenditure as it has the responsibility of approving budgets for Government expenditure. Thus, during this economic crisis, the Parliament of Sri Lanka has a crucial role to play and effectively realize such roles and responsibilities. To do so meaningfully, public engagement is a necessity.

Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said: “I believe we should make this Day an occasion to remember the importance of accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system. The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus recognizes that it has a role to play in initiating a conversation towards realizing a process by which the Parliament can conduct self-evaluation utilising the feedback received by the public discourse. This would be vital in order to gauge the progress the Parliament has made and identify challenges and devise strategies and mechanisms to overcome such challenges to be more representative of the voices of people.”

MP Thalatha Atukorale said: “In the face of crisis, if our parliamentary system fails to realize its purpose, then we must re-evaluate the practices of our Parliament. Therefore, I believe that this Day should be used as an opportunity to formulate an effective strategy to improve transparency and accountability of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.”

MP Diana Gamage said: “On this Day, I pledge to be a voice to the people of Sri Lanka, particularly the more vulnerable, and play my role in initiating mechanisms and formulating laws that reflect the current needs of the people of Sri Lanka whom we are representing in Parliament”.

Parliament is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. In Sri Lanka, let us realise this goal for all Sri Lankans, leaving no stone unturned to ensure quality of political representation, which means gender equality and social inclusion too.

MP Manjula Dissanayake said: “To be effective and successful, the Parliamentary system must encourage public engagement and must also be based on principles of equality and inclusivity in order to better comprehend and prioritise the needs of the public”.

Vice-Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratne said: “The parliamentary system is founded upon the sovereignty of people. Therefore, the success of the parliamentary system depends on public engagement in the democratic process and how well the parliamentary system responds to such public engagement.”

MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya said: “We as Parliamentarians must not be oblivious to the fact that the public has lost confidence in the Sri Lankan Parliament and by extension, the Parliamentarians. A strong contention can be and is being made that the Parliament of Sri Lanka falls short of effectively realizing one of its main purposes: to formulate and implement policies and laws that benefits ALL people, particularly the more vulnerable. To meet that end, we must harness public discourse and engagement.”

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Proposals to revive agriculture sector unveiled



By Ifham Nizam

The Department of Agriculture has handed over proposals with an action plan for the revival of the agriculture sector to the Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation, Mahinda Amaraweera.

Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Rohana Pushpakumara, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Ajantha de Silva, and its Directors, representing respective divisions, were also present.

The focus of the proposals is on the importation of chemical fertilisers and organic farming, increasing rice production in the country, promoting the cultivation of indigenous crops for export, taking measures to meet the national vegetable and fruit demand, prioritizing agricultural research and development, and other agricultural Inputs.

The proposals also deal with a number of other issues such as the misuse of pesticides and fertilisers.

The proposals consist of 11 short-term plans to uplift agriculture.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera, requested that the proposals, aimed at increasing the income of the farming community, be implemented without delay and that everyone be committed to make the Yala season, and the forthcoming Maha season, a success. “We must make the current Yala and the next Maha season a success. The country’s economy depends on the stability of the agriculture sector.

The Director General of the Department of Agriculture handed over the relevant proposal to the Minister.

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