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UN Resident Coordinator: Establishment of OMP important step

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United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy said in a statement yesterday that the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in 2016 was an important step by the government of Sri Lanka, and building and maintaining the trust of victims and their relatives is essential for its success,

“A fully independent and effective institution, with the resources, skills and political support needed for its crucial work can help provide victims and families some answers,” she said in her statement released on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2021.

The full text of the statement: “The United Nations stands in solidarity with the victims of enforced disappearances, their families and communities, here in Sri Lanka and across the world.

Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation. They experience mental anguish, alternating between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news of the whereabouts of their loved ones. The families and friends of the victims also live with the insecurity that the search for the truth may expose them to danger.

It is women who are most often at the forefront of the struggle to resolve the disappearance of family members. In this capacity they may suffer intimidation, persecution, and reprisals.

The feeling of insecurity generated by unresolved enforced disappearances is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and all of society.

The establishment of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in 2016 was an important step by the Government of Sri Lanka. Building and maintaining the trust of victims and their relatives is essential for the success of the OMP. A fully independent and effective institution, with the resources, skills and political support needed for its crucial work can help provide victims and families some answers.

Today we recognise the courage, commitment and determination of families and victims from all communities, who, despite many challenges, have continued to voice their demands for justice and answers about the fate of their missing loved ones and we stand by them.”



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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