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UK lawmakers for Tamils seek punitive measures against Sri Lanka



British barrister elected as the next Chief Prosecutor at the ICC

Elliot Colburn (Conservative Party) on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) has requested the UK government to take tangible measures to establish an evidence gathering mechanism, inquire into the suitability of international accountability mechanisms in respect of Sri Lanka and push for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur.

The UK heads the six-member Sri Lanka Core Group. APPGT has intervened on behalf of the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora in the wake of Lord Naseby, President All Party British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group sought to set the record straight as regards war crimes accusations. Lord Naseby made representations to the UNHRC.

The following is the text of letter dated Feb 22 written by Colburn to Dominic Raab MP:

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: “I write with reference to the draft UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on Sri Lanka published by the United Kingdom on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group, for Tamils (APPGT) is concerned that the draft resolution does not sufficiently support the important recommendations by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that are critical for ensuring progress towards accountability in Sri Lanka.

The UK has always been at the forefront of promoting human rights and international justice around the world, including in Sri Lanka. In 2014 the UK-led international efforts that successfully passed a key resolution in the UN Human Rights Council to promote accountability, justice, and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. That resolution authorised the landmark investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the OHCHR  Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), into human rights abuses in the period 21 February 2002 to 15 November 2011.

The OISL’s report documented mass atrocities and human rights abuses of unspeakable brutality and on an extraordinary scale. Yet, despite repeatedly pledging to ensure accountability, and repeated extensions by UNHRC members of their deadline for doing so, successive Sri Lankan governments have delayed and obfuscated at every turn.

Six years after the OISL report, and 11 years after the end of war in Sri Lanka, it is now time for the UK and the UNHRC member states to put the victims, the so many people who lost their lives, lost loved ones, and were put through unimaginable suffering, at the forefront of international efforts to ensure justice is delivered to them, and without any further delay.

It is therefore crucial that the resolution being tabled by the United Kingdom on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka, provides for concrete steps towards international accountability, in particular ensuring the collection and preserving evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law perpetrated in Sri Lanka, evidence that can facilitate criminal prosecutions via an international judicial process.

To these ends, we urge you to ensure the Resolution when presented to the Council includes:

1. Evidence gathering for the purpose of criminal prosecutions

Establish an ongoing independent mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Sri Lanka between 21 February 2002 until 15 November 2011, and to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes.

2. International Mechanism

Provide a mandate the Office of the High Commissioner to consider and report on the feasibility and appropriateness of international mechanisms for accountability, in recognition of the fact that Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious abuses, which may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The international mechanisms considered should include the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC was established precisely so as to ensure that perpetrators of such heinous crimes do not enjoy impunity because the State in question is unwilling or unable to prosecute them, and the UK can be justifiably proud that a leading British barrister, Karim Khan, has been elected as the next Chief Prosecutor at the ICC.

3. Special Rapporteur

Urge the Council to appoint an individual of recognized international standing and expertise in human rights as Special Rapporteur to investigate and report on human rights situation in Sri Lanka, and on the Sri Lankan Government’s compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. It is not only past violations and the lack of accountability for those that are concerning for us, but ongoing ones also. The UN High Commissioner’s latest report describes the deterioration in human rights protection in Sri Lanka as alarming and given the Sri Lankan government’s appalling track record, we believe international scrutiny of the situation in the coming months and years should be continuous and ongoing.

We believe the above are essential steps for ensuring accountability for the well-documented heinous international crimes that have taken place, and ongoing human rights abuses, in Sri Lanka. After over a decade of promised yet ultimately denied justice for the victims, we also believe these are the minimal steps that the UK should pursue, if our commitment to human rights, international rule of law, and justice is not to appear hollow, to both the victims and the perpetrators.”

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Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk



“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo



Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament



School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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