Saturday, November 07, 2009

" I saw the body of the victim floating in the water" - TNL Assistant News Editor

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda - Giving evidence in the Magisterial inquiry into the alleged forced drowning of a youth at the Bambalapitiya beach, Assistant News Editor of the TNL television channel, Sisikelum Dahampriya Balage, yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate that he had viewed what happened on the beach below through the lens of a camera recorder from the seventh floor of a building located next to the Bambalapitiya railway station.

He informed court that he witnessed a man been chased by three persons towards the sea and seen these three men assaulting the man they were chasing with sticks.

When the matter was taken up for evidence before Colombo Fort Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya, the Assistant News Editor of TNL informed court that he could not clearly make out if the three men chasing the lone man were police officers or not. “After an hour I saw the body of the victim floating in the water. I did not inform the police as several police officers were witnessing the scene. I was under the impression that it was happening under the direction of the police. That is why I did not inform the police,” he said.

The elder brother of the victim, Balawarnam Kadirgamanathan, informed court that his brother Sivakumar was mentally unstable and had been so since 2007. “I have five elder sisters and one younger sister. He is my only brother. He was arrested by the Dehiwela police in 2007 for allegedly dancing on the road and stopping vehicles. He was treated at the Angoda mental hospital more than thrice. He had gone missing from home on October 27. When I saw him for the last time, he was wearing a black T-shirt and brown trouser. On October 30, I went to the morgue and identified the body of my brother”, said Balawarnam Kadirgamanathan. Finally, he requested that a proper investigation be conducted into the death of his brother. Navy Officer Upali Prematilake and Yogaraja Darshan, a friend of the brother of the victim, Balawarnam, also gave evidence. Magistrate Pilapitiya postponed the hearing for November 20.

© Daily Mirror

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Emergency extended by further month

Parliament this afternoon (Nov. 06) extended the state of emergency by a further month.

The motion for the extension was passed with a majority of 78 votes, with 95 votes in favour and 17 against.

The TNA and the SLMC opposed, while the UNP and JVP were absent at the vote.

© Colombo Today

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

IMF releases $329.4 million loan to Sri Lanka

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday its executive board completed a review of Sri Lanka's economic performance and released $329.4 million from a stand-by loan agreement.

The IMF board also approved Sri Lanka's request for a waiver on certain performance criteria.

"Sri Lanka's performance under the stand-by arrangement is encouraging," said Takatoshi Kato, IMF deputy managing director.

"Recent economic developments have been stronger than expected, and the near-term outlook has improved. While the Fund-supported program had helped Sri Lanka avoid a balance of payments crisis, fundamental vulnerabilities remain to be addressed. Strict adherence to the program targets and steadfast implementation of the reform agenda will be essential," he said.

© Reuters

Related Links:
IMF Loan Helps Sri Lankan Reconstruction Drive - IMF
IMF clears Sri Lanka second tranche loan of 329 mln dlrs - AFP

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lanka admits rights violations

By Charles Haviland - The Sri Lankan government has admitted that it has room for improvement on its human rights record.

The admission comes two weeks after two foreign reports, by the European Commission and the US State Department, subjected it to strong criticism in the rights field.

Both before and since its victory in the civil war last May, the Sri Lankan government has been defensive on human rights matters.

A few weeks ago, as it was preventing European Union rights researchers from entering the country, one minister said Sri Lanka had “no human rights issues”.

Action plan

But now the human rights minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, has been unusually candid in admitting that the government wants to “get to a better position” on rights.

He named several areas which he says they’re investigating in drawing up an action plan.

"Whether it be torture, whether it be an issue on disappearances, an issue on extrajudicial killings, promotion and protection of women and children – there is a whole variety of issues we are addressing in this National Action Plan," Minister Samarasinghe said.

His remarks appear to be a response to last month’s strongly worded report on rights in Sri Lanka by the European Commission.

It said that unlawful killings by the police, soldiers and pro-government paramilitaries were a major problem; so too were torture and disappearances.

It also said the police were unwilling or unable to investigate violations.

The commission report said existing emergency regulations – which have just been renewed for another month – enabled arbitrary detentions not subject to effective review.

The foreign ministry has now delivered a formal response to the European report but it has not been made public.

The European Union is still deciding whether to suspend a trade privilege Sri Lanka currently enjoys, as a result of its findings.

© BBC News

Related Links:
Sri Lanka responds to EU rights probe concerns - Reuters
Sri Lanka faces EU tariff deadline - Al Jazeera

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