Govt. flayed for its HR record by US
United States Department of State in its 2008 country
report on human right practices has rapped the Sri
Lankan Government for what it terms its declining human
rights record which the report states has escalated as a
result of the armed conflict. The report has also
accused pro-government paramilitary groups including
Tamil political parties the EPDP and TMVP for gross
human rights abuses. The report has named the LTTE too
as being guilty of killing and abusing civilians.
foreign super power has slammed the government's respect
for human rights, which it states, declined as armed
conflict escalated. The overwhelming majority of victims
of human rights violations, such as killings and
disappearances, were young male Tamils, while Tamils
were only 16 percent of the overall population, it says.
Credible reports it asserts, cited unlawful killings by
paramilitaries and others believed to be working with
the knowledge of the government, assassinations by
unknown perpetrators, politically motivated killings,
the continuing use of child soldiers by a paramilitary
force associated with the government, disappearances,
arbitrary arrests and detention, poor prison conditions,
denial of fair public trial, government corruption and
lack of transparency, infringement of freedom of
movement, and discrimination against minorities.
"Pro-government paramilitary groups were credibly
alleged to have participated in armed attacks against
civilians and practiced torture, kidnapping,
hostage-taking, and extortion with impunity. During the
year, no military, police or paramilitary members were
convicted of any domestic human rights abuse. The
executive failed to appoint the Constitutional Council,
which is required under the Constitution, thus
obstructing the appointment of independent
representatives to important institutions such as the
Human Rights Commission, Bribery Commission, Police
Commission, and Judicial Service Commission," the report
LTTE, the report states have attacked and killed a large
number of civilians; are also engaged in torture,
arbitrary arrest, and detention; denied fair, public
trials; arbitrarily interfered with privacy; denied
freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and association;
and practiced extensive forced recruitment, including of
children. The LTTE was active in areas, particularly in
the south, that it did not control, attacking military
and civilian targets, including public buses and trains,
and conducting political assassinations.
country report on
has eight pages of human rights violations. It
maintains there was little progress in several
high-profile killings under investigation by the
Commission of Inquiry (CoI). In 2007 President Rajapakse
invited an International Independent Group of Eminent
Persons (IIGEP) to assist the CoI and monitor its
progress. The report notes the CoI interviewed witnesses
in three cases and held public formal hearings,
including testimony by video link from protected
witnesses who had fled abroad. However, according to the
IIGEP, the investigations were hampered by the lack of
effective witness protection and the inappropriate role
of the Attorney General's Office in steering the
IIGEP terminated its mission in March, citing an
"absence of political and institutional will" to
identify the perpetrators and "uncovering the systematic
failure and obstructions to justice that rendered the
original investigations ineffective."
"Credible evidence placed before the CoI alleged that
security forces were responsible for the 2006 execution
style killing of 17 members of the French NGO ACF
(Action Against Hunger).
year's end, no arrests were made. There was also no
outcome of the CoI investigation into the case of five
Tamil students killed in Trincomalee in 2006 despite
testimony that implicated individual members of the
security forces by name. While the commission indicated
on several occasions that it was nearly ready to present
its findings, by year's end, none of the commission's
findings had become public" the report states.
the year, media reports implicated the LTTE in attacks
on political opponents and civilians. On January 16, the
LTTE targeted a passenger bus in Moneragala District,
killing 27 civilians including three children. On April
8, a suspected LTTE suicide bomber killed Minister of
Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in
LTTE also conducted a number of attacks on military and
police targets, including the September 9 attack on the
air base in Vavuniya that reportedly killed up to 20
members of the armed forces.
Allegedly because of government pressure, the Sri Lanka
Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) ceased providing
statistics on forced disappearances by state security
forces, pro-government paramilitary groups, or the LTTE.
According to internationally respected monitoring
organisations, after a decline in mid-2007, the number
of disappearances increased to more than 500 within a
year. On November 8, the chairman of the Presidential
Commission on Disappearances, retired High Court Judge
Mahanama Tilakaratne, stated that 1,100 persons missing
or abducted in the past two years were still unaccounted
March Human Rights Watch (HRW) provided documentation on
several hundred cases compiled by local human rights
groups since mid-2006. The greatest concentration of
disappearances during the year occurred in Vavuniya and
the Eastern Province. The HRW report concluded that a
crucial factor was "the systemic impunity enjoyed by
members of the security forces and pro-government armed
groups for abuses they commit."
Witnesses and potential victims identified the
perpetrators of many abductions as Tamil-speaking armed
men using white vans without licence plates. The
government generally failed to investigate these
incidents, the report states.
Drug shortage going from bad to
By Nirmala Kannangara
drugs in government hospitals has now reached a critical
stage and has badly affected the war casualties the
Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) said.
of necessary drugs and injections in government
hospitals over the past few months has now come to a
crucial stage and many surgeries have been postponed at
the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) and in many
other hospitals, The Sunday Leader learns.
Ministry's failure to implement the Senaka Bibile drug
policy and setting up a drug information centre have
become the main causes for the inflow of quality-failed
drugs and drug shortages in hospitals says Assistant
Secretary GMOA, Dr. Upul Gunasekara.
Dr. Gunasekara, although the matter has been brought to
the notice of the Health Ministry officials nothing has
been done to supply the necessary medicine and instead
allegations have been made against the doctors for the
Director General Health Services has blamed the doctors
for prescribing medicine according brand names instead
of their generic names which was the main reason for the
shortage of drugs. How can drugs prescribed by brand
names lead to a drug shortage? The Health Ministry
officials do not know what they are talking about and
blame others for their own faults," added Dr. Gunasekera.
Dr. Gunasekera although the Health Ministry wants the
doctors to prescribe drugs by their generic names it
would not be fruitful as the patients will not get the
best medicine for their illnesses.
doctor writes a prescription by the generic names it is
the pharmacist who decides as to what medicine should be
given to the patient. Since there are low quality and
good quality medicines in the market, the doctors do not
want pharmacists to give their patients low quality
drugs. That is the reason for them to prescribe drugs by
their brand names instead of their generic names,"
claimed Dr. Gunasekera.
Gunasekera further said that the absence of a drug
policy, a drug information centre and the drug index was
the main reason for this issue and added that Sri Lanka
was the only country that does not have a drug policy
and queried as to why Health Minister Nimal Siripala de
Silva does not want to implement Prof. Senaka Bibile's
drug policy in the country.
concept of introducing a drug policy to a country is to
ensure the continuous supply of good quality drugs for a
lower price while a drug information centre could tell
the people what good quality drugs are available in the
market. This could in turn identify the quality failed
drug suppliers enabling the Health Ministry to black
list these importers," said Dr. Gunasekera.
Pak paid $ 6 mn to Taliban for Swat
in Pakistan's restive Swat valley was paid $6 million in
compensation by the government as part of the deal for a
ceasefire with security forces for an indefinite period,
media reports said Tuesday.
signed a controversial deal with Maulana Sufi Mohammad
of the Tahrik-e-Nafiz Shariat Muhammadi (the Movement
for the Enforcement of Islamic Law) to enforce Islamic
law (Sharia) in Swat to restore peace in exchange for
the payment, a security official was quoted as saying.
paid through a back channel was compensation for those
who were killed during military operations and
compensation for the properties destroyed by the
said all of Pakistan's tribal areas come under President
Asif Ali Zardari's jurisdiction and the amount was paid
from a special fund of the president. A special aid
package, including a donation from the U.S., was
designated for the region by the president's office and
distributed through the Governor's office in North West
Frontier Province (NWFP), the reports said.
The deal was
thrashed out after months of intense fighting in which
hundreds of civilians and militants were killed and
500,000 persons displaced.
Maharagama UC corrupt to the
By Nirmala Kannangara
Maharagama Urban Council (UC) has become a haven for
corruption and the members of the council's ruling UPFA
administration have allegedly shown displeasure over the
conduct of its Chairperson Kanthi Kodikara, Deputy
Chairman, Maharagama UC, Senaka Kalubowila told The
Kalubowila the monthly council meetings end abruptly
due to the lack of a majority and the council
administration is on the verge of collapse due to lack
of support within its ruling members.
February council meeting could not be held on Friday
February 27, the council work cannot continue due to
lack of funds to meet payments. Although there are nine
members for the ruling UPFA, only six members including
the JHU member were present at the meeting.
Consequently the meeting had to be postponed for want of
a quorum. As a result the council could not pass its
financial bill for the month of March which would badly
affect the work of the council," Kalubowila further
since Kodikara's husband Upali Kodikara is contesting
for the Western Provincial Council (WPC), the UC
vehicles are being misused for the election campaign
work alleged Kalubowila. "UC double cab, bearing number
WP GC4984 is being used for election campaign work from
the time the WPC elections were announced. Although
there are restrictions placed on issue of fuel for other
vehicles, this particular double cab is allowed to pump
fuel without any questions being asked," alleged
5000 electronic ticket machines
issued to bus conductors
By Risidra Mendis
owners have completed the distribution of 5000
electronic bus ticket machines to conductors.
1000 electronic bus ticket machines are yet to be
brought down from China at a cost of Rs. 25,000 to Rs.
Leader learns that according to a Supreme Court Order
all private bus conductors have to use the electronic
bus ticket machines from February 15.
Lanka Private Bus Owners' Association (LPBOA) President
Gemunu Wijeratne told The Sunday Leader that the
electronic bus ticket machines would solve one of the
major problems of private bus conductors cheating the
electronic bus ticket machines can track the non-issuing
of tickets and therefore private bus conductors would be
forced to issue tickets," Wijeratne explained.
private bus owners have to pay for the ticket machines,
the cost of the electronic ticket machine has been added
to the fare policy. We should be able to get back our
profits due to the revised fare policy in less than an
year, after which we can pay back the cost of the
electronic bus ticket machines," Wijeratne said.
UN Security Council meeting on SL
a report by Inner City Press, a UN Security Council
meeting on the situation in Sri Lanka was scheduled for
Friday 27, despite the fact that UN spokesman John
Holmes had said "there is no request for a Council
meeting," three days earlier. The Council President,
Japan's Yukio Takaso had said "at this moment, there is
no strong request," on being asked about the issue a
week earlier. The meeting would take place under the
heading "Other Matters."
past month, the conflict between the Sri Lankan
government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
appeared to be drawing to a close. The LTTE first began
fighting for a separate homeland in 1983. Now, the area
of land controlled by the LTTE has shrunk to just 34
square miles, due to significant advances made by the
Sri Lankan Army forces.
groups have estimated that there are around 250,000
civilians trapped within this small area. However, the
government states there are only about 70,000 civilians
in the area concerned. There is much difficulty in
ascertaining the state of the fighting as well as the
number of deaths, as well as how many civilians are
still in LTTE-controlled areas, as journalists are
restricted with regards to their movements within the
Confusion over fuel subsidy
By Risidra Mendis
drivers are being forced to register with their area
police to receive the fuel subsidy approved by the
government approved the fuel subsidy to all trishaw
drivers effective January 1 on the basis that they
register with the grama niladaris of their areas.
Sunday Leader learns that some trishaw drivers have
complained to the All Island Three Wheeler Drivers'
Welfare Association (AITWDWA) over the confusion of
registration as they have been asked to register with
the police in their respective areas.
Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala
The arrest of Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala on
Thursday, February 26, hardly shocked a nation that is
still grappling with a far bigger issue, the staggering
fraud of Rs. 26 billion. Kotelawala’s arrest as a result
was not stunning news but expected, as investigations
have proved his complicity in one of the biggest white
collar crimes committed in this country. An arrest
warrant has been issued for his wife and co-partner Dr.
Sicille Kotelawala too.
The arrest of Kotelawala one of the most successful
businessman in this country was the final icing on the
cake of a dream empire which collapsed like a pack of
cards in December last year.
First came the staggering collapse of Golden Key
followed by the arrest of its CEO and other directors.
Now its founder chairman and think tank has been
Depositors amounting to 7,188 who deposited their
monies with Golden Key have not been receiving interest
payments since November last year. Since early December
depositors have been unable to withdraw their funds.
In December last year, the Criminal Investigations
Department (CID) launched an investigation into the
collapse of Golden Key, and the company’s CEO Khavan
Perera. Perera is already in remand custody as are a
number of other leading members of the Ceylinco group,
including Golden Key Finance Director Saradha
Sumanasekera and Ceylinco Insurance Chaminda Jayalath.
However Kotelawela and his wife remained free until
last week, after paying Rs. 25 million as bail to the
Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s court.
Kotelawela initially claimed his innocence in the
multi billion rupee scam insisting he too had been duped
by the crooked actions of his own management team at
Golden Key. He singled out Perera as being the
mastermind behind the scam.
His lawyers argued vehemently in his defence that
Kotelawela as Chairman of Ceylinco Consolidated knew
nothing of what was taking place at Golden Key despite
the latter functioning as a subsidiary of the Ceylinco
However the investigation revealed otherwise casting
serious doubts on Kotelawala’s plea of innocence. It was
discovered that the Golden Key company has not produced
a set of properly audited accounts for three years and
that the company had not held a board meeting for four
years. That Kotelawala was unaware of the lack of board
meetings and accounts in this respect was not only
unacceptable but simply unbelievable.
Prosecuting lawyers and investigators have argued
that to allow one of Ceylinco group’s subsidiaries to
plunder a quarter of a billion rupees and profess
ignorance is an act of criminal negligence. The
prosecution has further revealed that there is evidence
to prove that Kotelawala had indeed used some of Golden
Key’s money outflow for personal reasons and gain.
At the time of going to press Dr. Sicille Kotelawala
had not yet been remanded. It is understood that she is
No breakthrough even after seven
By Nirmala Kannangara
The police for the third consecutive week are still
probing into the telephone calls received by the late
Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader Lasantha
Wickrematunge on the day of his assassination, but have
failed to make any breakthrough.
Wickrematunge was killed on January 8 while on his
way to office in Attidiya in close proximity to the high
security zone near the Ratmalana Airport and the Air
The police appointed four investigating teams to
probe into Wickrematunge’s murder, but for the past
seven weeks the teams have failed to make a
However, two suspects alleged to have had a link to
the killing have been taken into custody and are under
interrogation according to Police Spokesperson SSP
"The two suspects are still being questioned and we
expect to get vital details for a breakthrough soon,"
Gunasekera told The Sunday Leader.
Meanwhile, when asked about the latest situation on
the probe on Wickrematunge’s murder, Gunasekera said the
details had not been revealed to him by the
investigating teams as it could hamper the investigation
"The police teams do not wish to give me the details,
as exposure of such details to the media would disturb
all their efforts to make a breakthrough. What I know is
that they are still probing into the telephone calls
received by Wickrematunge moments before he was
assassinated," Gunasekera said.
However, he also said the Government Analyst’s (GA)
report is yet to be received and the police were waiting
to get the fingerprints compared with the GA report for
Eight accused in Global Tower
The Mt. Lavinia Magistrate last week discharged the
eight accused in the Rehan de Silva murder trial and
instructed that they be given back their passports,
The Sunday Leader learns.
Subsequent to the mysterious death of Rehan de Silva
in December 2006 at the Global Towers in Wellawatte, the
eight accused were taken into custody and their
passports were impounded. However, since there were no
charges levelled against the accused, they were
discharged by the Mount Lavinia Magistrate last week who
instructed that their passports be handed back to them.