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Sumanthiran stresses need for proper laws to tackle public health emergency



By Saman Indrajith

TNA Jaffna District MP MA Sumanthiran told Parliament yesterday that the issues related to importation of rapid antigen test kits were due to the absence of proper laws to deal with public health emergencies.

 Participating in the adjournment debate on COVID-19 second wave, the MP said that the health sector, particularly the public health sector, had often asked for laws that could help deal with such situations. “I heard state minister Jayasumana used the phrase ‘public health emergencies’ several times in his speech.

We don’t have a law to deal with public health emergencies. We have outdated laws like the Auarantine Act. etc. Laws are insufficient to deal with the current crisis. I will deal with only one example, the issue of this quarantine curfew. On May 3 I wrote to the Human Rights Commission expressing the view that lockdowns and curfews were necessary at certain times, times like this. But we don’t have sufficient glows to deal with this and what is being done is not lawful.

“On June 8 the Human Rights Commission wrote to the Secretary to the President and sent me a copy of that letter making certain recommendations. In that letter, they have very clearly stated that what is being imposed in the country calling it curfew is not lawful. We need laws.”

The government has been advised under the Human Rights Commission Act section 10 officially. They analysed all the laws in the country at present and made certain recommendations.

“There is no proper law to deal with this public health emergency. Even with regard to the importation of rapid antigen test kits, and all of that, all these issues have arisen because there are no proper laws.

Finally, this is the month of November in which the people in the world over remember fallen heroes who have participated in wars. Our country has also had to unfortunately go through a three-decade war. But our parents are not allowed to remember their dead. I urge the government in this debate because I believe the authorities are using Covid-19 as a ruse to stop people from visiting the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried.”

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



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



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



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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