Friday, November 20, 2009

Bambalapitiya tragedy: Court to see video

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda - A Colombo Court yesterday allowed the Police to screen on December 3 a video footage of the controversial case where a mentally deranged man was beaten and driven to the sea where he drowned off the Bambalapitiya beach.

Crimes DIG Anura Senanayake told Fort Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya that the repeated telecast of the man being beaten had given the impression that he had been beaten several times and this had damaged the image of the police department.

He asked that he be permitted to screen the video footage in open court.

On behalf of the TNL TV, Counsel Upul Jayasuriya with Shiraz Noordeen submitted that during the news presentation, the video footage was telecast parallel to the news reading and therefore it had been telecast several times.

On behalf of MTV channels, Counsel Udaya Rohan de Silva with Shiraz Noordeen submitted that MTV channels had not telecast the video in a distorted manner.

Meanwhile, the identification parade to identify the four suspects was postponed to November 20.

© Daily Mirror

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tissa Honoured: CPJ introduces 2009 International Press Freedom Awardees

Naziha Réjiba, editor of the Tunisian online news journal Kalima, said she knows what to expect when she returns home—surveillance, harassment, and threats conducted by one the world’s most repressive governments.

“While I’m speaking, many homes of Tunisian journalists are completely surrounded,” Réjiba, one of four recipients of the 2009 International Press Freedom Awards, told reporters at the National Press Club today, describing state surveillance. The Committee to Protect Journalists gives the awards each year to courageous journalists working in dangerous and repressive circumstances.

At today’s press conference, CPJ also introduced awardee Mustafa Haji Abdinur, an Agence France-Presse correspondent and editor-in-chief of Radio Simba in Somalia. Two other CPJ awardees, J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka and Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan, were recognized but not present: They are imprisoned in their home countries in retaliation for their work.

The awards be officially bestowed on Tuesday in New York; the awardees are in Washington to meet with elected officials, diplomats, and news media.

Abdinur noted the dangers facing the press in Somali, where 18 journalists have died on duty since 2005. “If a journalist is killed, the news is also killed,” he said, noting that foreign journalists are no longer stationed in the country and domestic reporters are being attacked, killed, or forced into exile. Few reporters are left, and the world knows ever less about the grave crisis there.

CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon called for the release of the imprisoned journalists Tissainayagam and Fatullayev. “We will make sure their respective governments are aware of our outrage,” he said.

Fatullayev is an investigative journalist whose colleague, editor Elmar Huseynov, was assassinated in 2005. Fatullayev is serving more than eight years on fabricated charges after his reporting on the unsolved Huseynov slaying raised questions about government obstruction.

“His only crime is his journalism,” said Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “He is being punished for doing a job that the government has not done: investigating the murder of his editor.”

Tissainayagam, or Tissa as he is known in Sri Lanka, is serving 20 years in prison on terrorism charges based on his journalism. Tissainayagam had written columns documenting human rights and other abuses by Sri Lankan military authorities. The government called it inciting “communal disharmony.

Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intervene in the case, rectify a miscarriage of justice, and set Tissainayagam free.

© Committee to Protect Journalists

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Global investors target Sri Lanka

Sanjeevi JAYASURIYA - The global investor community is keen on exploring opportunities in Sri Lanka as there is a peaceful environment that facilitates growing investor confidence. The next decade would be prosperous for the country as there will be growth potential in its financial market, said Leopard Capital Asia CEO, Douglas Clayton.

Leopard Capital Sri Lanka is a joint venture between Orion Capital Partners in Sri Lanka and Leopard Capital of Hong Kong. It launched a private equity fund to raise US $ 100 million by early next year.

The Fund would nurture the Management Buy Out (MBO) market in Sri Lanka. “There are many companies where the management does not get an opportunity to make the relevant changes to capture growth and enhance shareholders’ value due to lack of capital or shareholder disagreements.

Worldwide, the MBO becomes a solution for such problems and assists good management teams to continue to grow businesses navigating around shareholder issues. In the long term it ensures that companies have longer lifecycles than shareholder groups. MBOs also allow long standing family businesses to avoid decline and demise”, he said.

Leopard Sri Lanka Chairman, Ranjit Fernando said that with the advent of peace in the country it is anticipated that there will be unprecedented growth in the economy.

Many private companies which have traditionally depended on bank funding and retained earnings will be faced with either having to surrender growth opportunities to foreign companies with capital or to conglomerates with capital or else seek capital for expansion.

Leopard Sri Lanka will also assist in supporting this growth capital requirement among mid-sized Sri Lankan companies.

Sri Lanka has a conducive regulatory environment to attract investors. With the introduction of an equity fund of this nature it would help change the corporate landscape.

The Fund will focus on development impact, good governance, scalability of business, quality of management team and transparency in the potential investing companies.

It would invest in tourism, IT, financial services and the retail sectors and would provide capital to enhance business, he said.

Leopard Capital Sri Lanka works in collaboration with international experts in the field of investment management and capital mobilization and a team of Sri Lankan managers who have built a reasonable network in Sri Lanka with insights in to Sri Lankan business. Leopard Capital plans to bring a great deal of international business linkages that will assist Sri Lankan companies to access global markets.

A two-day investor forum will be held from today to showcase the country’s potential growth sectors and entrepreneurship skills to coincide with the launch of Leopard Capital Sri Lanka.

© Ceylon Daily News

Related Links:
Japanese investors show confidence in Sri Lanka - Ceylon Daily News
Sri Lanka can be the “Dubai of South Asia” : SL Minister - Daily Mirror
Sri Lanka market watchdog hosts Singapore investor forum - Lanka Business Online

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Friday, November 20, 2009

UN presses for freedom for Sri Lanka war-displaced

The United Nations on Thursday stepped up pressure on Sri Lanka to free thousands of war-displaced civilians held in state-run internment camps.

"Months after the conflict ended, our main concerns haven't changed. People are still not given free access to leave these camps on their own free will," UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told AFP after a visit to the camps.

Holmes, who ended a three-day visit on Thursday, said some 130,000 men, women and children remained inside the tightly-guarded camps.

More needs to be done to improve their living conditions, the UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs added.

"We are very much encouraged by the government's progress to resettle people. There were about 288,000 people in May (when the conflict ended) and now its much less," Holmes said.

He asked the government to allow those returning to their villages a greater say in their resettlement.

"People need to be consulted as much as possible on where they are going, the status of their homes, their livelihoods."

"But I must say that those who have been allowed to return are quite relieved to get out of the camps and rebuild their lives with what little they have."

He inspected demining efforts and visited the Manik Farm area in the island's north where most of the displaced civilians are being held.

He said the government appears to be on track to resettle displaced people by January 2009.

"But we have some doubts. There are bound to be areas where demining is not finished. Our concern is what's going to happen to these people who cant go back to their villages. Where will they stay once the camps are emptied?"

He said some may opt to live in the state-run makeshift shelters until their villagers were cleared of mines.

"In that case, freedom of movement becomes more crucial. People should be free to leave the site for jobs or visit friends and relatives until its safe to return."

During a news conference with Holmes, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama repeated Colombo's promise to allow war-displaced people leave the camps at their will.

The foreign minister did not elaborate, but sought more assistance from the UN to clear mines.

Sri Lanka's military in October estimated that there could be up to 1.5 million mines scattered across the island's north.

In May, Sri Lankan troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels who were fighting for a separate homeland since 1972.


Related Links:
UN confirms Tamil camps exodus - BBC News
Sri Lanka Seeks UN Aid as Envoy Visits War Refugees - Bloomberg
Resettlement quickened for Sri Lanka war displaced - eTaiwan News

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Sri Lanka approves $891 mln China loan for coal power

Sri Lanka has approved $891 million loan from China's Export-Import bank to fund a coal power plant, an official said on Thursday, as the island nation focuses on infrastructure after the end of 25 years of war.

China along with India are now increasingly competing to win lucrative and strategic investments in Sri Lanka since the fighting stopped in May.

Both India and China provided military assistance, including ammunition in the final phase of the war, while they also helped President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government to face Western-led criticism of rights abuses.

Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, the cabinet spokesman said the government approved China's offer of the 20-year loan with a 2 percent interest rate and five-year grace period to build the second phases coal-fired power plant in northwestern province.

Sri Lanka and China signed an over $350 million worth deals to build a highway and an oil bunkering facility in August .

© Reuters

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