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Women parliamentarians submit motion seeking PSC to probe gender based discrimination



By Saman Indrajith

The Women Parliamentarians Caucus has submitted a motion seeking the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into gender based discriminations and violations of women’s rights in the country.

The motion now entered in the latest Addendum to the Order Book of Parliament says that the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus chaired by Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, has resolved the necessity of setting up a mechanism to advocate and mainstream gender equity and equality through their representation, lawmaking, budgeting and oversight functions.

As a result of their resolve they seek for House’s approval to set up a PSC to “look into and report to Parliament its recommendations to ensure gender equity and equality with special emphasis on looking into gender based discriminations and violations of women’s rights in Sri Lanka.

The motion has been signed by Dr Fernandopulle and MPs Dr Seetha Arambepola, Rohini Kumari Wijerathna, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, Thalatha Atukorale, Geetha Samanmale Kumarasinghe, Kokila Gunawardene, Muditha Prishanthi, Rajika Wickramasinghe, Manjula Dissanayake, Dr Harini Amarasuriya and Diana Gamage.

The motion says that Article 12 of the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution recognizes that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law and Article 12(4) provides for affirmative legislative or executive action for the advancement of women’s rights.

The government has ratified several international legal instruments that promote gender equality inter alia Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Ensuring gender equity and equality and empowering all women and girls have become important in the context of sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations for which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

 The PSC is expected to make recommendations in respect of the following in order to address gender based discrimination ensuring that gender equity and equality is promoted and respected, and all women and girls are empowered in Sri Lanka:

(a) hearing grievances of women on all sorts of gender based discriminations including employment, promotional opportunities and harassments in work place; (b) reviewing and advocating for the allocation of adequate domestic resources in all sectors and at all levels, and access to improved gender equity and equality in Sri Lanka; (c) scrutinizing and reviewing relevant laws, ensuring gender mainstreaming to prevent discrimination and negative impact on the lives of women and girls; (d) lobbying with relevant line Ministries and authorities to ensure gender responsive planning and budgeting; (e) undertaking awareness campaigns and encouraging information dissemination on matters related to achieving equality among men and women; (f) lobbying and advocating for more women representation in decision-making bodies on national, provincial and local level, in public, civil society and in private sectors; (g) reviewing measures for integration of gender equality principles at National, Provincial and Local levels; (h) encouraging public-private partnerships to improve gender equity and equality in Sri Lanka; (i) sharing expertise and experiences among countries at regional and international levels and reviewing lessons learnt from other Parliaments; and (j) consideration of all matters which are connected with or incidental to the above matters. 2. (a) That the Committee and its Chair shall be appointed by the Speaker; and (b) That notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 101 of the Parliament, the Committee shall consist of not more than twenty five (25) Members comprising all members of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament and other Male Members of Parliament representing all political parties. 3. That the Committee shall have the power to— (a) fix its quorum; (b) summon any person to appear before it, to require any person to procure any document or record, to produce and receive all such evidence, written or oral, as the Committee may think it necessary for the fullest consideration of the matters referred to above; (c) obtain the services of specialists and experts in the relevant fields to assist the Committee; and (d) make interim reports from time to time and to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of Parliament.”

The Committee shall present its report to Parliament within a period of one year from the first meeting of the Committee or within such further period as Parliament may grant. The report of the Committee, once tabled in Parliament shall be referred to the Ministers in charge of relevant subjects who shall submit their observations and steps taken therein contained to the House within a period of eight (08) weeks, the motion said.

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Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.


Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR



Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend



By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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