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Whereabouts of NTJ bomber Hastun’s wife still a mystery

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Outgoing HR Chief says missing girl’s mother never mentioned Zahran

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) said Rajaratnam Kavitha, mother of P. Pulasthini (24) wife of Thowheed Jamaat suicide bomber Atchchi Muhammadu Hastun hadn’t informed the HRCSL Office in Batticaloa of Zahran Hashim’s involvement in the disappearance of her daughter.

Outgoing HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama told The Island that there hadn’t been any reference to Zahran when Kavitha visited the Regional Office on April 17, 2019, four days before the Easter attacks.

Dr. Udagama was responding to The Island query whether the Regional Office informed Colombo of receiving a complaint as regards the missing young woman. The Island raised the issue with Dr. Udagama in the wake of Kavitha‘s testimony before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) in late last month.

Kavitha said that she visited the HRCSL Regional Office in Batticaloa after the Kaluwanchikudy and Kattankudy Police stations declined to accept her complaints. Kavitha said: I informed an officer there that I had found out my daughter was with Zahran. At that moment he said he knew Zahran and that there was nothing to be scared of since Zahran was a normal person.” Kavitha also quoted the HRCSL official as having said there was no need to lodge a complaint and that he would look into the matter.

The PCoI was told that Pulasthini fled to India following the blast. Intelligence services are in the process of verifying controversial testimony before the PCoI. However, authorities are yet to reach a conclusion on Pulasthini’s whereabouts against the backdrop of initial reports she perished in

Sainthamaruthu blast that claimed the lives of several Thowheed Jamaat cadres.

Q: Did HRCSL receive a complaint in this regard or any information regarding Kavitha’s visit to HRCSL Regional Office?

A: We obtained a detailed report on the matter from our Batticaloa Regional Office. It also includes the log entry relating to the visit of Ms. Kavitha to the Regional Office on 17 April, 2020. According to our records, one Ms. Kavitha of Mankadu, Cettipalayam had visited our Batticaloa Regional Office on 17 April, 2019 accompanied by a male. Her complaint was that her daughter P. Pulasthini (age 24) had gone away with a young man from the Muslim community and had married him in 2015, and that her whereabouts were not known. She had appealed to the HRCSL to assist in finding her. As the matter was of a private nature, our officer had informed Ms. Kavitha that it did not fall within the HRCSL’s statutory mandate. Ms. Kavitha had been advised to seek the assistance of the police to find her daughter. At that point the mother had not informed of any attempts to complain to the police or of any inaction on the part of the police. If that were the case the complaint would have been registered.

In her complaint Ms. Kavitha had stated that one Razik from a Muslim organization was having influence over her daughter’s family life. There had been no mention of a Zahran. In fact, as a gesture of assistance our officer had called a telephone number provided by Ms. Kavitha which was said to be that of Razik. He had denied knowledge of Pulasthini’s whereabouts and had mentioned that the parents had complained to Maligawatta police station about the matter and that the police including CID had questioned him in that regard. As there was nothing out of the ordinary about the complaint, the HRCSL Colombo had not been informed. That is the regular procedure.

Q: Did PCoI ask HRCSL personnel to appear before it? And if not, will you be inquiring into this (in the wake of PCoI revelation.

A: No, we have not been summoned by the PCoI. The records from our Batticaloa office, in our opinion, do not give rise to any issue that requires further investigation.

Q: Did HRCSL inquire into Easter Sunday tragedy or receive complaints as regards the government’s failure to thwart the carnage?

A: Even in the absence of a complaint, the HRCSL could investigate this matter on its own initiative (per S.14 of HRCSL Act, No 21 of 1996). However, we are aware that the same issue is being canvassed before the Supreme Court via FR petition by at least one aggrieved party. When a matter is canvassed before the Supreme Court in a FR application, the Commission does not conduct a parallel inquiry. The decision of the SC is binding on all parties.

Pulasthini’s husband carried out the attack on St. Sebastian church, Katuwapitiya where over 100 people perished.

Dr. Udagama confirmed the announcement made by the Constitutional Council on Monday (3) regarding her decision to quit the post. Head of Department of Law Faculty of University of Peradeniya, Dr. Udagama received the appointment in Oct 2015.

The Constitutional Council said that Dr. Udagama tendered her resignation from the post of chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka with effect from September 2020.

The CC Chairman informed the Constitutional Council that the Human Rights Commission was rated as one of the best in the world and that he would like to convey the appreciation to its Chairman Dr Udagama and the members of the commission for the exceptional achievement.

 



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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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