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UK assessment of Sri Lanka based on civil society and media, too – Lord Goldsmith

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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Lord Zac Goldsmith has said that there was no blanket requirement for information to be independently verified before being submitted to London.

Minister Goldsmith has said so in response to Lord Naseby seeking an explanation as regards the responsibilities et al of British Defence Attaches against the backdrop of the UK government dismissing reports submitted by wartime UK defence attache here Lt. Col. Anthony Gash.

Lord Naseby has asked the following question on April 21: whether the information contained in despatches written by UK defence attachés must be independently verified before submission; if so, whether it is standard practice to ensure that such attachés are briefed to that effect; and if so, what record, if any, they hold of Lieutenant Colonel Gash, being so briefed.

Lord Goldsmith who also serves as Deputy to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab has provided the following answer on April 29: “Reports from UK Military attachés and diplomats take a wide variety of forms. Some report events which they have directly observed; some report the views or assertions of others; some focus on judgements or provide analysis. There is no blanket requirement for information to be independently verified before submission, which in many situations will not be possible. The context of reporting will inform the weight that is attached to it. Reports from our defence attachés, together with many other sources, contribute to the UK government’s overall understanding of events overseas.”

Lord Naseby, also on the same day has asked what sources they used to inform their assessment of the situation in Sri Lanka during the civil war in that country between 1 January and 18 May 2009.

Lord Goldsmith responded: “The UK government’s assessment of the situation in Sri Lanka during the civil war was informed by a broad range of internal and open source reporting, including from our High Commission in Colombo, international organisations, civil society and media.”

In respect of the Sri Lanka Armed Conflict, Lord Naseby has asked  what criteria they used to assess the credibility of evidence reports they have received which related to the situation in Sri Lanka during the civil war in that country between 1 January and 18 May 2009; and whether it has ever been their practice to accept reports from unnamed sources.

Lord Goldsmith has responded: “Reports from UK Military attachés and diplomats take a wide variety of forms. Some report events which they have directly observed; some report the views or assertions of others; some focus on judgements or provide analysis. These, along with other sources, contribute to the UK government’s overall understanding of events overseas.

Lord Naseby has asked the Government whether  further to the despatches written by Lieutenant Colonel Gash, the former defence attaché of the British High Commission in Sri Lanka about events in that country between 1 January and 18 May 2009 relating to the civil war, whether they consider all reports by UK military attachés and diplomats to be evidence based-assessments.

Lord Goldsmith has responded: “Reports from UK Military attachés and diplomats take a wide variety of forms. Some report events which they have directly observed; some report the views or assertions of others; some focus on judgements or provide analysis. These, along with other sources, contribute to the UK government’s overall understanding of events overseas.” (SF)

 

 



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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