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TNA gets it wrong

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by Neville Ladduwahetty

 

A report in The Island of March 8, 2021, referring to a statement made by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) relating to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s UNHRC speech, states: “Sri Lanka has not conducted any investigations to ascertain the truth and dispense justice. Anything done to ascertain the truth has been through the investigations highlighted in the PoE Report of March 2011, or the OISL Report of September 2015. No steps have been taken to dispense justice even on the basis of the said investigations”.

The notion that the UNSG appointed Panel of Experts (PoE) conducted investigations to “ascertain the truth” is incorrect, by the admission made in the Executive Summary of the Report by the PoE.

 

UNSG Appointed PANEL of EXPERTS

The Executive Summary of Report by the PoE states: “The Panel’s mandate however does not extend to fact-finding or investigation. The Panel analyzed information from a variety of sources in order to characterize the extent of the allegations, assess which of the allegations are credible, based on the information at hand, and appraise them legally. The Panel determined an allegation to be credible if there was a reasonable basis to believe that the underlying act or event occurred…. Allegations are considered as credible in this report only when based on primary sources that the Panel deemed relevant and trustworthy. In its legal assessment the Panel proceeded from the long-settled premise of international law that during and armed conflict such as that in Sri Lanka, both international humanitarian law and international human rights law are applicable. The Panel applied the rules of International humanitarian and human rights law to the credible allegations involving both of the primary actors in the war, that is the Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka”.

Having stated in the Executive Summary that the applicability of both international humanitarian and human rights laws during an armed conflict is based on the “long-settled premise of international law, the PoE in the body of its Report states: “There is no doubt that an internal armed conflict was being waged in Sri Lanka with the requisite intensity during the period that the Panel examined. As a result, international humanitarian law is the law against which to measure the conduct of both government and the LTTE”. It is therefore clear that as far as the PoE is concerned, the only applicable law should be International Humanitarian Law, notwithstanding the “long settled premise” that both IHL and IHRL apply during an armed conflict.

 

THE OISL REPORT

The TNA statement also refers to “investigations highlighted” in the OISL Report.

According to their Report, the “OISL’s mandate derives from Human Rights Council Resolution 25/1 which required OHCHR to ‘undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka …” (Paragraph 4)

Methodology

Despite the mandate being to “undertake a comprehensive investigation” the Methodology used was ONLY a desk review of existing information as stated in Paragraph 20 of the OISL Report.

Paragraph 20: “In view of the extensive documentation already available on the period covered by the OISL investigation the team initially carried out a desk review of existing material including Government publications, international and Sri Lankan NGO’s/civil society reports, the report of LLRC and other commissions, audio-visual material and satellite images, reports of the United Nations Special Procedures and treaty bodies”.

Paragraph 21: “In the course of its work, OISL has received and gathered information from many sources with knowledge of human rights cases and issues in Sri Lanka, including parties to the conflict, as well as United Nations officials and staff members, civil society organizations, forensic medical doctors, international NGOs, human rights defenders and other professionals….”

Paragraph 22: “Another key source of information was the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel of Experts… As custodian of the Panel’s archives, the High Commissioner officially authorized OISL to access the documentation contained in the archives, requiring it to adhere strictly to confidentiality guidelines….”.

 

Confidentiality

Paragraph 25: “Details which could reveal the identity of victims or witnesses such as names, dates and places have been omitted in many cases described in the report in order to ensure that the victims, witnesses and their families cannot be identified”.

 

SUMMARY

It is therefore abundantly clear from the foregoing admissions that both the PoE and the Office of the High Commissioner did NOT undertake any investigations of a nature that would enable establishing the truth in order to dispense justice. All that they did was to “gather information” (Paragraph 21) and do a “desk review” (Paragraph 20) of existing statements. However, the authenticity of these recorded statements cannot be verified because “the identity of victims or witnesses such as names, dates and places have been omitted” for reasons of confidentiality (Paragraph 25). In such a background, for the TNA to state that “No steps have been taken to dispense justice even on the basis of the said investigations” is to lay charges without understanding the limited methodologies adopted by PoE and the OISL.

 

CONCLUSION

The stark reality is that both the UNSG appointed Panel of Experts and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by their own admissions did NOT carry out “investigations” of any kind to ascertain the truth. Instead, what both did was to record statements from so called “primary sources” and characterize those allegations that “the Panel deemed relevant and trustworthy”, as being credible. The fact that the approach adopted by both parties is highly subjective is not in doubt, and because of it, establishing the truth requires investigations. Such investigations should entail having to engage with the victims and witnesses who provided the material on which the allegations were based. Since such engagements are not possible due to non-disclosure of identity of victims and witnesses on grounds of confidentiality under Paragraph 25 cited above, the investigations needed to establish the truth cannot be conducted.

In such a background, it is next to impossible to establish the truth because even if access to the recorded statements and other material, which at present is accessible only to the UNHRC, verifying its authenticity is not possible due to the inability to engage with the victims and/or the witnesses for reasons of confidentiality. Under the circumstances, Sri Lanka cannot be held solely responsible for establishing the truth. Instead, it becomes a joint responsibility because the reason for the persistent lack of accountability that Sri Lanka is being charged with is because of the constraints imposed on the process by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by way of not having access to the evidence and the primary sources of that evidence, without which it would NOT be possible to engage in an investigation that reaches the threshold of accountability. For the core-group to comment on the “persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms”, reflects a refusal to appreciate what is at stake in respect of the challenges involved as a result of a imposed constraints.

The challenge is that an impartial investigation has to go beyond credible allegations; evidence is needed and there has to be access to those who gave the evidence in order to establish the authenticity of that evidence. Both are denied due to the practices adopted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Therefore, the entire approach to accountability has to be revisited if the truth is to be found in order to dispense justice.



Features

To recognise and reward Women Entrepreneur

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by Zanita Careem

WCIC “Prathibhabis-heka” national awards will be given to outstanding women entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka and the SAARC said Anoji de Silva, the chairperson of Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce WCIC at a press conference held at the Jetwing hotel Ward PlaceThis year the Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by DFCS Aloka.This National Award which is recognised globally will help women to market their products to international buyers

“As a country we have faced many difficulties over the last few years. Now this is the time to reflect and ensure that local women can contribute and progress to be on par with international entrepreneurs She also noted that this award ceremony is a great opportunity for all since it’s an absolutely empowering platform. “You hear success stories of women from different walks of life and it’s very empowering and inspiring. I’m sure that the younger generation of women who will watch the ceremony wii be inspired to be sucessful entrepreneurs in the future S

“Our women entrepreneurs have the potential to help our economy to grow. They have made vast strides to build companies on a set of values and they have created diverse working environments.

The WCIC Prathibhabisheka Women Entrepreneur Awards will be held in January 22. To the question how financial records of small businesses headed by women could deter their ability to apply the chairperson said.

“We have a startup category which is under five years where they can submit documents for consideration. She responded “These women can apply but must submit proper records to back their applications or else they will be rejected wholeheartedly.The Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022

“Prathibha” depicts excellence in Sanskrit and WCIC will showcase the excellence of outstanding women entrepreneurs through WCIC Prathibhabisheka –

“The relaunched property is structured to assess the businesses in a holistic manner. We invite outstanding women entrepreneurs, especially the ones who have braved the challenges in the past years to share their story of resilience and achievements to compete for the coveted – WCIC Prathibhabisheka The Awards will honour women entrepreneurs for their tenacity to scale and grow, and for their contribution and impact on the economy. Whilst the competition is primarily for Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs, we have also included an opportunity for women in the SAARC region to compete in a special category” stated Anoji De Silva, the Chairperson of the WCIC.

The members of WCIC Ramani Ponnambalam and Tusitha Kumarakul-asingam, said”. We will be accepting applications under the categories – Start-up, Micro, Small, Medium and Large. Each category will have a specified revenue for the year under review – 2021/22. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be presented for each category. With the view to identify and promote regional women entrepreneurs, we will encourage applications from all the provinces in the country and select the “Best of the Region” from each province.

The women will also be considered for the coveted special awards – Young Woman Entrepreneur, Outstanding Start- up, Most Positively Abled Woman Entrepreneur, The Most Outstanding Export Oriented Entrepreneur, The Best of the SAARC Region. The ceremony will culminate with the selection of the “Women Entrepreneur of the year -2022”.

“The entry kit can be downloaded from www.wcicsl.lk and completed and submitted to the WCIC along with all the material required to substantiate the applicant’s story. Entries close on the 31st of October.” stated Tusitha Kumarak-ulasingam.

WCIC Prathibabisheka – Woman Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by– DFCC Aloka, as the Platinum Sponsor, with Gold Sponsors – Mclarens Group, LOLL Holdings Plc, Hayleys Leisure Pic, and AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd (Exclusive Insurance Partner), Silver – Finez Capital Ventures Print and Social Media Partners will be the Wijeya Group and Electronic Media Partner–ABC Network with Triad as our Creative Partner and Ernst & Young as Knowledge Partner.

Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) is the premier organization supporting entrepreneurs and professional business-women. The membership is open to women who believe they can contribute to society as well as benefit from the many facilities the organization creates. WCIC Prathibhasheka is relaunched this year as a flagship property, to recognize and reward outstanding women enterpreneurs who make a contribution to the SL economy.

For further information Contact- Janitha Stephens – 0766848080

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Features

Marmalade sandwich in Queen’s handbag!

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In this period of national mourning, it may seem frivolous to comment on the late Queen’s handbag. After seven decades of selfless service to the nation, fashion is but a footnote to Her Majesty’s glorious reign.And yet her style is something that helped to create the powerful majestic image of Queen Elizabeth II, and which made her instantly recognisable worldwide. A key part of that image, and a constant presence in her working life, was her black Launer handbag.

Launer London was Her Majesty’s handbag maker for more than 50 years and has held the Royal Warrant since 1968. Launer bags are formal and structured, and proved to be the ideal regal accessory for public engagements. Its first royal patronage came from HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the 1950s. Where others might have bought the latest ‘It’ bag, Queen Elizabeth exercised characteristic restraint with her handbags throughout her life, focusing on quality over quantity in her loyalty to Launer.

Her Majesty was known for her love of colour in her working wardrobe, wearing rainbow brights in order to be better seen by the public, but her accessories were always muted. Black mostly, sometimes beige or white in summer, gold or silver in the evening: neutrals that matched with every colour, allowing her to dress with ease. The timeless style of her trusty Traviata top-handle bag suited the Queen’s no-nonsense nature and symbolised her steadfast reign. The late Baroness Thatcher shared the Queen’s love of a strong top handle from classic British labels such as Launer and Asprey. These bags helped promote a look of someone in control. Like Queen Elizabeth, Thatcher’s handbags were such a part of her identity that they have earned their own special place in history and have been described as the former PM’s ‘secret weapon’. One such bag has been exhibited at the V&A alongside Sir Winston Churchill’s red despatch box. Both are artefacts of cultural and historic importance.

It has been said that there was another purpose to the Queen’s handbag on public engagements, namely that she used it as a secret signalling device. According to royal historian Hugo Vickers, Her Majesty would switch the bag from her left arm to her right to signal for an aide to come to her rescue if she tired of the conversation in which she was engaged. If she placed the bag on the table, this was a sign that she wanted to leave. Ever-practical, HM needed a bag that focused on functionality over fashion, choosing styles with slightly longer top handles that comfortably looped over the monarch’s arm, freeing her hands to accept bouquets and greet the public. Even in her final photograph, meeting her 15th prime minister in her sitting room at Balmoral Castle, just two days before her death last week, the Queen’s handbag can be seen on her left arm. Perhaps at this stage it was part armour, part comfort blanket.Even at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II did not lose her ability to surprise. She delighted the public by taking tea with Paddington Bear at her Platinum Jubilee celebrations and finally revealed what she keeps in her handbag: a marmalade sandwich, ‘for later’.

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Cinnamon Grand, Colombo welcomes You to the SEQUEL

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The next best thing in Colombo!

What would you get if you took the decadence of yesterday and paired it with the flavours of right now? Something bold and jazzy or rich and snazzy. Something we’d like to call the next best thing. All this and more at Cinnamon City Hotels to the SEQUEL at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo said a press release.

The release said the SEQUEL is where the old meets new, where charm meets sophistication and having a good time gets a new meaning. Colombo’s latest speakeasy cocktail bar is ready to welcome the discerning guest that is looking for that perfectly curated night.

“The SEQUEL will be a novel addition to Colombo’s nightlife catered to enthralling guests with our performances and showmanship,” said Kamal Munasinghe, Area Vice-President, Cinnamon City Hotels.

What do we mean when we say performance? It means that every little detail is tailored to those who appreciate elegance, and a bespoke experience like no other. Think walking into a vintage space accompanied by the sounds of Sinatra and Fitzgerald inviting you to do it your way or for once in your life. Think of the soul-searching and eclectic mix of Winehouse classics that you can drown your sorrows in.

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