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TNA, allies call for outfit like IIIM in Syria to probe SL

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Three Tamil political parties represented in Parliament backed by several other civil society groups, have urged the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to set up an evidence gathering mechanism, similar to the International Independent Investigatory Mechanism (IIIM), in relation to Syria, established as a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, with a strict time frame of 12 months duration to investigate Sri Lanka war crimes.

The following is the text of the letter addressed to UNHRC members by the TNA, TNPF and TMTK: “We, the elected representatives of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, leaders of Tamil national political parties, members of the Tamil victim communities and Tamil civil society organizations write this letter in the lead up to the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when the situation in Sri Lanka is to be evaluated.   We note that within a week of the end of the armed ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, a joint communiqué by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations was issued at the conclusion of UN Secretary-General’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009 with the following:   “Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations.  The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The Government will take measures to address those grievances”   Upon Sri Lanka failing to take meaningful steps to address the above commitments, the UN Secretary General appointed on 22 June 2010, a three-member panel to look into human rights and accountability issues during the final stages of the armed ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. This report of the Panel of Experts (POE) was handed over to the Secretary General in March 2011. Subsequently, the Secretary General referred the POE to the President of the UNHRC and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in September 2011.   Thereafter, the UNHRC adopted Resolution 19/2 “Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka” in March 2012 and since then has been seized of the matter with several resolutions in March 2013 and March 2014. Subsequently, the Government of Sri Lanka co-sponsored Resolutions 30/1 (October 2015), 34/1 (March 2017) and 40/1 (March 2019).     Leaders across the political spectrum in Sri Lanka including from both the major political parties have categorically and without exception stated that they will protect the Sri Lankan armed forces from prosecutions. It is now time for Member States to acknowledge that there is no scope for a domestic process that can genuinely deal with accountability in Sri Lanka.  

“The continuing and intensifying oppression against the Tamils including militarisation, indefinite detention of political prisoners, land grab in the name of archaeological explorations, the denial of traditional, collective land rights like cattle grazing rights, intensifying surveillance of political and civil society activists, the denial of burial rights during COVID19 to our Muslim brethren and the denial of the right to memory underscore the urgency of addressing the deteriorating situation.    As the UNHRC meets in February and March 2021 to evaluate the Sri Lankan Government’s commitments under Resolution 40/1 and plan further action, we urge that member states categorically come to this conclusion by way of a final Resolution. The Resolution must declare that Sri Lanka has failed in its obligations to investigate allegations of violations committed during the armed ethnic conflict and atrocity crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“In such a context the Resolution must acknowledge that there is no prospect for accountability in Sri Lanka by way of its own domestic mechanisms or through hybrid mechanisms.    

We request the following:   1. Member States urge in the new resolution that other organs of the United Nations including the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly take up the matter and take suitable action by reference to the International Criminal Court and any other appropriate and effective international accountability mechanisms to inquire into the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

2. The President of the UNHRC refers matters on accountability in Sri Lanka back to the UN Secretary General for action as stated above.

 

3. Member States to mandate the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to continue to monitor Sri Lanka for ongoing violations and have an OHCHR field presence in country.

 

4. Without detracting from that which has been stated in point 1 above, take steps to establish an evidence gathering mechanism similar to the International Independent Investigatory Mechanism (IIIM) in relation to Syria established as a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly with a strict time frame of twelve months duration.

 

We reiterate the need for concrete action with accountability and for the above the matter to be escalated to higher forums.   Thus, we urge Member States to take decisive and timely action to grant redress to the people who have been denied justice thus far.”



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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