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President appoints CoI to investigate entire gamut of HR probes and findings

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Amnesty dismisses it as eyewash

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a three -member Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate, inquire into, and report or take necessary actions on findings of preceding Commissions or Committees appointed to investigate into human rights violations, serious violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other such offences.

The Extraordinary Gazette notification pertaining to this was issued on Thursday (21).Supreme Court Judge A. H. M. D. Nawaz has been appointed as the Chairman of the Commission. Retired Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando and retired District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri are the other members.

The Commission is entrusted with following responsibilities:

(a)Find out whether preceding Commissions of Inquiry and Committees which have been appointed to investigate into human rights violations, have revealed any human rights violations, serious violations of the international humanitarian law and other such serious offences;

(b)Identify what are the findings of the said Commissions and Committees related to the serious violations of human rights, serious violations of international humanitarian laws and other such offences and whether recommendations have been made on how to deal with the said facts;

(c)Manner in which those recommendations have been implemented so far in terms of the existing law and what steps need to be taken to implement those recommendations further in line with the present Government policy;

(d)Overseen of whether action is being taken according to (b) and (c) above

The Commission has the authority to make required inquiries and investigations and to present interim reports where it is necessary to the President. All Government officials have been directed to provide required assistance and information when requested by the Commission.

The final report of the Commission should be handed over to the President within six months since the date of the appointment of the Commission.

The background to the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry is given in the Gazette. The decision taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw from co-sponsorship of 40/1 Resolution on Reconciliation, Accountability and Promotion of Human Rights Sri Lanka and its preceding resolutions 30/1 and 41/4 was announced at the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Even though Sri Lanka withdrew from the co-sponsorship of the aforesaid resolutions, the policy of the Government of Sri Lanka is to continue to work with the United Nations and its Agencies to achieve accountability and human resource development for achieving sustainable peace and reconciliation. The Government is also committed to ensure that other issues remain will be resolved through democratic and legal processes and to make institutional reforms where necessary to ensure justice and reconciliation.

The Government identifies as a fundamental requirement to pursue a non-aligned foreign policy that protects the sovereignty of Sri Lanka in achieving the objectives stated in the Government Policy Statement.

Since the Commissions and Committees that have been appointed to investigate alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian laws and have made recommendations, the 3-member Commission is entrusted with the task of investigating them and making recommendations on necessary actions to be taken.

Amnesty International South Asia (AISA) claimed the Sri Lanka has a long history of CoIs that have repeatedly failed to deliver justice and reconciliation for victims of Human Rights violations. Findings of past commissions have not led to any prosecutions of those responsible for atrocities, AISA said commenting on the PCoI.

AISA said that OHCHR investigations have revealed how these repeated failures have led to skepticism, anger and mistrust on the part of the victims.

“In her update to the UNHRC in February 2020, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights made clear her skepticism that the appointment of “yet another Commission of Inquiry” could advance accountability for past violations, noting the “systemic barriers that continue to exist within the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice” at the national level. Amnesty calls on the UNHRC to launch a new process or mechanism to pursue the objectives of resolution 30/1: to end the cycle of impunity and advance accountability for international crimes with a view to deterring future violations, particularly against minority communities and civil society groups. Central to the new approach must be continued monitoring and reporting on the situation, as well as the collection, analysis, and preservation of evidence for future prosecutions.”



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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