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National child protection policy not implemented for 21 years, says COPE

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NFF cranks up pressure on SJB over death of teenage girl

By Shamindra Ferdinando 

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) was established in 1998, but the national policy on child protection hasn’t been implemented yet, according to the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).

 This was revealed when NCPA Chairperson Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana and other officials including the Secretary of the Education Ministry Prof. Kapila Perera, appeared before the COPE in Feburary this year.

 COPE Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath has pointed out the failure on their part to implement the national policy though NCPA had been established more than 20 years ago.

 Prof. Vidanapathirana was not immediately available for comment.

 The COPE highlighted the NCPA’s failure to implement a national policy it called a primary responsibility of the outfit. COPE proceedings also revealed NCPA’s annual reports for 2016, 2017, 1018 and 2019 hadn’t been handed over to Parliament, wasting of public funds on futile project to prepare a data network,  the Legal Department being served by only two persons and only one person serving the section handling complaints.

 The inordinate delay implementing the national policy on child protection has received the media attention in the wake of shocking revelations surrounding the apparent suicide of sexually abused 16-year-old Ishalini Jude Kumar, who succumbed to injuries caused by a fire in the residence of lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen at No 410/16, Baudhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. 

Civil society groups ‘We are the future’ and “Lakmawa Diyaniyo’ affiliated to the National Freedom Front (NFF) yesterday alleged that some of those who caused a media and social media furore over the statutory rape of another 15-year-old girl, was silent over the death of Ishalini.

Addressing the media at Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, Borella, Isuru Prasanga and S.R. Muthumali said that Ishalini had been admitted to the National Hospital on July 3 with serious burn injuries and in spite of medical staffs’ efforts to save her, she succumbed to her injuries on July 15. Subsequent examination of the Ishalini revealed the teenager had been subjected to sexual abuse, they said, urging authorities to take immediate action.

 They pointed out that though Bathiudeen was an MP he shouldn’t enjoy privilege status and should be subjected to no holds barred police investigation.

 MP Bathiudeen and his brother are in custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over their alleged links with the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

 The groups affiliated to the NFF alleged that those responsible for ensuring justice for Ishalini were silent. They urged the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) to respond to the unexpected development as Bathiudeen’s All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) contested the last parliamentary election on the SJB ticket. The ACMC contested the 2010 and 2015 general elections, on the SLFP led UPFA and UNP, respectively. The ACMC switched its allegiance to breakaway UNP faction, SJB in early 2020 following the split in the former ruling party.

 They asked whether attempts were being made to suppress the case. Declaring their intention to lodge a complaint with police headquarters in that regard, they urged the mainstream and social media to campaign for the rights of children.

 Having condemned the other statutory rape of 15-year-old girl, the SJB couldn’t remain silent on the latest exposure of one of its lawmakers employing an underage child in clear violation of the law and she having been sexually abused, they said. The NCPA and higher authorities, including the relevant parliamentary watchdog committee should be held responsible for a proper investigation into the incident at the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of the MP.

 They said that a lawmaker couldn’t have been unaware of the legal impediment in hiring children as servants.

 The police have recorded several statements so far in connection with the death of Ishalini who was procured in Oct or Nov last year and she had not been able to go home for the last seven months.



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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained

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Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.

 

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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini

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A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests

 

By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 

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Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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