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UK considers imposing sanctions on Gen. Silva, others over ‘war crimes’

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Gammanpila urges govt. to place all ‘evidence’ before Geneva

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The House of Commons has been told that the UK government is exploring the possibility of imposing sanctions on Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Shavendra Silva and other members of the military.The UK has reiterated its readiness to use what Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) Minister Jesse Norman called, diplomatic tools including sanctions amidst the ongoing 51 sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The sessions, which commenced on Sept. 12, will conclude on Oct. 08.The former Financial Secretary to the Treasury has said that the government kept the situation, in Sri Lanka, under close review, including in relation to human rights and accountability. “Within this, the government keeps under active consideration how to use the diplomatic tools we have, including sanctions,” Minister Norman has said.

Lawmaker Norman received the appointment as FCDO Minister, on Sept 07, 2022,following the appointment of Elizabeth Truss as the Prime Minister, on the previous day. At the time Truss received the premiership, she served as the FCDO Minister.

Conservative Party Minister Norman has said so in response to a query raised by Beth Winter representing the Labour Party (Cynon Valley). The lawmaker has asked the FCDO Minister of the recent assessment made of the potential merits of imposing sanctions on (a) the Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff, Shavendra Silva, and (b) other members of the Sri Lankan military.

The question has been actually directed at Truss, at the time she served as the FCDO Minister, though the government responded to the query, following her appointed as the Prime Minister.

Minister Norman has said that their Global Human Rights Sanctions regime is a powerful mechanism in the hands of the UK Government meant to hold accountable those who had been involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. The Minister said that their strategy was intended to send a clear signal of the values the UK held.

The Minister said: “The UK Government continues to consider designations globally, guided by evidence and the objectives of the human rights sanctions regime; but it is not appropriate to speculate on potential future designations, in order to avoid reducing their impact.”

British political parties have stepped up attacks on the war-winning Sri Lankan military, especially General Silva in the wake of the US issuing a travel ban, in Feb 2020, on the wartime General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the celebrated Task Force I/58 Division. The US travel ban also covered General Silva’s immediate family.

The Sri Lanka Core Group, led by the UK, recently handed over a new resolution to the UNHRC seeking further action against those whom the group considered human rights violators. The 47-member council, divided into five zones, is expected to vote for the resolution, next week.

Former Minister and leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Udaya Gammanpila told The Island that the government should at least now place all available information, pertaining to the conflict, before the Geneva council. Acknowledging that successive governments, including those he served as a Minister, neglected the accountability issues, and thereby allowed interested parties to humiliate the war-winning military, lawmaker Gammanpila said that the move against the CDS was an affront to the country.

The Attorney-at-Law said that the FCDO’s position should be challenged on the basis of wartime dispatches it received from the UK High Commission in Colombo (January –May 2009). Thanks to untiring efforts made by Lord Naseby, the world knew the BHC, Colombo, reported to FCDO that 40,000 Tamil civilians didn’t die as alleged by interested parties, lawmaker Gammanpila said.

The ex-Minister urged the government to review the overall picture and take tangible measures to have politically motivated efforts countered. Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009. PHU leader Gammanpila asserted that perhaps Sri Lanka’s defence in Geneva should be based on wartime US Defence Advisor Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith’s declaration in Colombo, late May 2011, two years after the end of the war, that there was no basis for war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan military.



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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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