Bid to scuttle probes alleged
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The reappointment of two key parliamentary watchdog committees, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) has been further delayed for want of a consensus among political parties on who should head them.In spite of earlier indications that the ruling SLPP might go ahead with the original plan to give leadership of COPE and COPA, in addition to that of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) to the Opposition, the government seems to have second thoughts, political sources said.
Late last month, SJB heavyweight, Dr. Harsha de Silva, received the appointment as Chairman of the COPF, a post previously held by SLPP MP Anura Priyadarshanaya Yapa.All other parliamentary committees, except the COPE and the COPA, had been reconstituted, following the opening of the third session of the ninth Parliament on 03 August.
President of the Sri Lanka Audit Service Association (SLASA), Prasad Prasanna, yesterday (04), said that the country was in such a desperate financial situation, the government and the Opposition should not delay taking tangible measures to restore economic stability. The parliamentary watchdog committees would have to play a significant role in the anti-corruption drive, the official said, expressing concern over the inordinate delay in setting up the COPE and the COPA. The SLASA Chief said so in response to The Island query regarding unbridled public sector corruption.
Prasad Prasanna said that the SLASA was yet to receive a response from President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office to their letter, dated 15 Aug, requesting the re-appointment of Prof. Charitha Herath and Prof. Tissa Vitharana as heads of the COPE and the COPA, respectively.
“The SLASA really appreciates the stand taken by Governor, CBSL, Dr. Nanadalal Weerasinghe, as regards the accountability on the part of lawmakers and Parliament as the country struggled to cope up with an unprecedented crisis.
We sincerely hope Dr. Weerasinghe’s timely intervention would make a difference,” Prasad Prasanna said.Sources said that both the government and the Opposition had left Professors Charitha Herath and Tissa Vitharana out of their nomination lists. SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam told The Island that those who declared themselves as independent members couldn’t expect the government to nominate them. They shouldn’t expect a privileged status after having quit the government parliamentary group, Kariyawasam said.
Prof. Herath declined to comment on the inordinate delay in reconstituting the two watchdog committees. However, he stressed the need to continue the work initiated during the previous sessions of the ninth Parliament. Dr. Weerasinghe’s views couldn’t be ignored by political parties, Prof. Herath said.Some sources attributed the delay in reconstituting the two watchdog committees to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s visit to New Delhi and the presentation of an interim Budget by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister.
SLASA President Prasad Prasanna urged the government not to suppress investigations undertaken by the COPE. It would be a grave mistake, on the part of the government, to derail watchdog committees as such a course of action would cause further deterioration of public sector finance.
Report on child protection delivered to President
The Committee appointed to Study and Make Recommendations for the Protection of Children handed over their comprehensive report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday (03) evening.
This committee was established on April 19, 2023, to study and provide recommendations for the protection, care and overall welfare of children who have been subjected to various forms of violence within Sri Lanka.
Over the course of nearly five months, the committee conducted 21 meetings to gain an in-depth understanding of the existing issues and to formulate practical recommendations. The committee comprised a diverse group of members, including representatives from institutions such as Children Homes, Remand Homes, Certified Homes, Child Development Centres, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions & Associations, Principals of Schools, Civil Society Organizations, Telecommunication and Digital Service Providers, Telecommunication Regulators, Digital Crime Security Experts, Lions Club, Rotaract Club, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Colleges of Medicine, Solicitors General from the Attorney General’s Department, National Child Protection Authority, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Family Health Bureau, Foreign Employment Bureau, Sri Lanka Women’s’ Bureau and officials from the Ministries in charge of Women & Children and Education.
The report, which was completed and submitted to the President yesterday, addresses a wide range of issues concerning child protection, including issues related to institutionalized environments, lack of parental care, family separation, digital media exposure, child labour and more. The committee also evaluated the adequacy of existing institutional, administrative and legal safeguards for child protection, aiming to meet the demands of modern society.
Furthermore, the report explores strategies to enhance the physical and mental health of children who have experienced various forms of violence, abuse and neglect. It also delves into the concerning trend of children engaging in violent acts and seeks innovative approaches for community participation in child care initiatives
Landslide Early Warnings Issued to Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts extended
The landslide early warnings issued by the landslide early warning center of the National Building Research Organisation to the districts of Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts have been extended untill 1630 hrs today.
Level II landslid early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Neluwa in the Galle district, Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, Pasbage Korale in the Kandy district, Kotapola and Pitabeddara in the Matara district, Ayagama, Kuruwita, Pelmadulla, Nivithigala, Kiriella, Ratnapura, Elapatha, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana in the Ratnapura district.
Level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Seethawaka in the Colombo district, Elpitiya in the Galle district, Walasmulla in the Hambanthota district, Mathugama, Buathsinhala, Aggalawaththa and Walallawita in the Kalutara district, Yatiyanthota, Kegalle and Dehiowita in the Kegalle district, Athureliya and Mulatiyana in the Matara district and Imbulpe and Kolonna in the Ratnapura district
Opposition: Judge’s resignation has tarnished Lanka’s image
He should have taken action against those who threatened him – govt.
By Saman Indrajith
Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that there were serious questions and concerns about the independence of the judiciary following the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge T. Saravanarajah, citing threats and harassment.
“This is a serious issue and the government should conduct an independent inquiry into this matter immediately,” Premadasa said.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the judge’s resignation, citing threats and harassment following his ruling on the Kurundimalai temple, had led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary. He said that the Mullaitivu Magistrate had been pressured to change his judgment.
Justice Minister,Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Sri Lankan judges had power to issue summons and take appropriate action against individuals who attempted to exert influence over them. He asked why the judge concerned had not used his powers.
Minister Rajapakshe said that the Opposition could file a contempt of court case if anyone had pressured the Mullaitivu Magistrate to reverse his judgment as claimed, without levelling allegations against the government.
The Minister said the government had no powers to investigate the matter involving the Magistrate and that the JSC was the relevant body to handle the matter and requested if anyone had any issue, they could complain to the Judicial Service Commission.
TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the whole world knew that there was pressure on the Judge. “The Minister cannot claim that there was no pressure on the judge.”
Minister Rajapakshe said that if there was anyone in the House who had exerted pressure on the judiciary it was MP Sumanthiran. He said MP Sumanthiran had on 20 October, 2022 told Parliament that the judges of the Supreme Court should be sent home. “You said in this House that people had no faith in the Supreme Court.”
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