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Prez has no ‘legislative power’ to proscribe civil organisations under the PTA



Petitioners in FR petition challenging proscription of SLISM

The Supreme Court has directed that notices be issued returnable for 16 September 2021 on Minister of External Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena, Secretary Defence General (retd.) Kamal Gunaratne and Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne, respondents in an alleged fundamental rights violation case filed by three petitioners representing the Sri Lanka Islamic Students Movement (SLISM), an organisation proscribed in April 2021 under regulations made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

 The SC bench comprised Justice Kumudini Wickremasinghe and Justice Shiran Gooneratne.

The petitioners have alleged that the regulations enabling the proscription of civil organisations made under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) are void abinitio and vioalted the PTA, the Constitution as well as international treaties to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

The President has no ‘legislative power’ to proscribe civil organisations under the PTA or to enact legislation thereunder creating new criminal offences punishable with up to 10 and 20 years prison terms and that the provisions in the said regulations are in violation of Article 10 and other fundamental right provisions in the Constitution, the petitioners have alleged.

The petition has set out that the SLISM had been proscribed without any legitimate evidence or a fair and reasonable inquiry or any judicially valid determination and without being heard by anyone prior to proscription, in violation of the principles of natural justice.

The organisation and its members all of whom are below the age of 27 years including the petitioners, had been subject to degrading treatment or punishment, deprived of the right of respect for the inherent dignity of the human persons and degraded to appear in the public perception as extremists, violent extremists and as terrorists without disclosing any grounds or reasons for justifying the  proscription of the organisation SLISM, having a history of 41 years of yeoman service to the country and the youth in the field of education.

M. M. Zuhair PC appearing with M.C.M. Muneer, M.R.M. Salman, Faris Salih, Rizwan Uvais and Sumaiyyah Jiffry instructed by Shanesh Dissanayake appearing for the petitioners submitted that the petitioners were ready to support the application and that they were seeking interim relief as well.

Senior State Counsel Ganga Wakistarachchi appearing for the Attorney General informed Court that SSC Dr. Avanthi Perera is appearing for the AG and that the AG had not been able to obtain instructions from the other respondents and moved that the 2nd to 4th Respondents be noticed. The case was fixed for 16th September 2021.

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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE



Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm



By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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