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GoSL reiterates rejection of US announcement over Jerusalem

The Government of Sri Lanka on Sunday reiterated its rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

This came during a meeting between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap at the former's office in Colombo.

Wickremesinghe said the decision of the US recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would threaten the peace process in the Middle East.

He reiterated his country's firm position on the Palestinian issue, especially with regard to the city of Jerusalem, pointing out that Sri Lanka is following on with this matter.

Earlier on Sunday, Sri Lankan government spokesman and minister of health Rajitha Senaratne announced at a press conference his country's rejection of the US administration's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

He stressed that Sri Lanka's position is clear on the Palestinian issue; “To keep Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. The Sri Lankan embassy will never transfer its embassy to Jerusalem,” he said.

Senaratne added that the US had been informed of his country's position. “The US had become isolated because of the unilateral declaration by President Donald Trump on Jerusalem, which all European countries have also rejected.”

He said that a sit-in will be held on Friday in the capital Colombo in support of Jerusalem and to show solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as protest against the US move.

Senaratne stressed that the final status of Jerusalem is to be determined by final status negotiations, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations.

PIC: Onlanka

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UN Experts Say Sri Lankan Detainees Denied Basic Rights

A group of United Nations human rights experts said Friday that Sri Lanka has yet to respect individual rights, with people kept in custody for excessive periods pending investigations, and reliance on confessions that are often extracted under torture or duress.

A three-member delegation of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded a 10-day visit to the island nation on Friday.

They told reporters that individuals are being deprived of their rights in a range of facilities such as police stations, prisons, open work camps, centers for juveniles, mental health institutions and rehabilitation camps for former combatants and drug addicts.

"The right to personal liberty has yet to be respected by law enforcement, security forces, judicial and other authorities," the experts said in a statement.

They called for reforms to address problems including excessive use of detention, a lack of effective alternatives to detention, an outdated legal framework and reliance on confessions, often extracted under duress.

They said detainees in general do not enjoy basic guarantees of due process such as immediate access to legal counsel.

The experts said they were given free access to detention facilities including Joseph Camp, a military installation in the north which human rights groups say was a notorious torture site during the country's long civil war and soon after its end in 2009.

According to an Associated Press investigation, about 50 men now in Europe said they were tortured by Sri Lankan authorities as recently as last July, and some believe it occurred at Joseph Camp.

U.N. expert Jose Guevara said the group was told that the camp has not been used for civilian detention for a long time, and they did not see anything out of the ordinary there.


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President attends 92nd passing out parade in Diyatalawa

The 92nd passing out parade of the Sri Lanka Military Academy in Diyatalawa was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday (17).

The Commandant of the Institute Brigadier Priyantha Senaratne warmly welcomed the President when he arrived at the Academy. The President also paid floral tribute to War Hero memorial in the premises of the Academy.

191 cadet officers will join the Sri Lanka army after successfully following this military training.

The cadet officers who showed outstanding performance during their military training received medals from the President.

The Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, the Commander of the Army Mahesh Senanayake and many others participated on this occasion.

 Source: Presidents Media

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Malaysian PM to arrives in the island

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in the island today for a for a three-day diplomatic visit. The visit is made with the aim to strengthen the ties between the two countries will see the signing of several important agreements and MOUs between Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The PM will visit President Maithripala Sirisena for official bilateral talks on Monday while in the following event a commemorative stamp and first day cover for the visit will be presented to him. Razak will also meet a business delegation during his visit.

On the final day of the visit, he is set to meet Premier Ranil Wickramasinghe for a working lunch. The PM will leave the island on Tuesday at the conclusion of his visit.


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DIG Lalith Pathinayake appointed Acting DIG of Traffic

DIG of the Colombo Range, Lalith Pathinayake has been appointed as the acting DIG of the Sri Lanka Police Traffic Division. The temporary appointment was made at the request of IGP Pujith Jayasundara to the Police Commission.

The request was made due to the retirement of the former DIG of Traffic Chula De Silva on December 6. The division has been functioning without a DIG for over two weeks as the Police have been unable to find a successor to the post.

Though DIG Chula De Silva had formally requested for a service extension he was not granted his request due to top political interference. The outgoing DIG was highly experienced in the area of Traffic Management.

However, the Police are said to be in turmoil now as there appears to be no suitable candidate for the job. Officers of the division have been left disgruntled due to the current state of affairs with one senior officer questioning the state of the Police today as a result. “What does it say about the Police department if we don’t have a suitable candidate for this job” he was overheard as saying adding that the Police department is in a pathetic state at the moment.


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Results of investigation into 'beetle' found in tea to be released

Results of the investigation conducted into a beetle found in a consignment of tea to Russia may be released today highly placed sources of the Ministry of Plantation said. According to them currently, no details regarding the incident can be confirmed.

“We are not even sure if the shipment was in fact from Sri Lanka,” the source said. While it's unclear if Sri Lanka has been officially informed of the temporary ban on agricultural product exports to Russia. “We are acting on media reports” the source went on to explain adding that an investigation was conducted with the participation of the Sri Lankan Tea Board representative to Russia.

Minister of Plantations, Navin Dissanayake will visit Russia according to the investigation results the Ministry said. International media outlets reported that Russia has placed a temporary ban on tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka from Dec. 18 after a beetle was found a tea consignment, the agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Thursday.

The insect, known as the Khapra beetle, was discovered in the packaging of a consignment of tea from Sri Lanka, which said it was an isolated case and that it would work with the Russian authorities to resolve the issue.


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Aircraft fuel becomes Kerosene: Rs. 49 Million loss for CEYPETCO

14 000 MT of fuel purchased from Lanka IOC as an emergency purchase has been rejected due to not being of the required standard.

 The decision to then purchase the rejected stock as Kerosene has resulted in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation from incurring a loss of Rs. 49 Million.

According to sources this stock was fuel was purchased from IOC as the shipment of aircraft fuel which was to arrive on December 8 was delayed. However, due to its low quality, it was later decided to purchase it as Kerosene instead.

While a litre of aircraft fuel costs Rs. 80, a litre of Kerosene is a mere Rs. 45. Accordingly, CEYPETCO has now incurred a loss of Rs. 49 Million due to the price difference.

 As a result, the corporation has incurred an additional cost of Rs. 35 leading to the loss.

CEYPETCO was also hit with a further loss of Rs. 65 Million as the stock was imported at an additional cost of USD 3 per litre as it was an emergency purchase.


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Fair prices for essentials - PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said the government has taken measures to introduce fair price shops in collaboration with the private sector and the Lak Sathosa to ensure fair prices for essential commodities in the open market.

The Prime Minister while noting that the prices of commodities have seen an increase, said that agriculture production was hampered due to bad weather conditions that swept across the country during the past two years.

“The prices of commodities have seen a drastic increase and as a government, we are aware of it,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister was speaking after opening the Gampaha Bus Stand-2 on Friday (14). The new bus stand is a free Wifi Zone. The bus stand was constructed by the Urban Development Authority utilizing funds from the Sukitha Purawara Town Development Programme of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry under the directions of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The Premier said that adverse weather conditions had affected agriculture production in the country during the past two years and this situation has resulted in the increase in the cost of living.

The Prime Minister added that the government will find a permanent solution to this issue.

“However, the government has taken measures to introduce fair price shops during the festive season until next April, with the participation of the private sector and the Sathosa.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added that following discussions between President Maithripala Sirisena, Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

private sector representatives, Sathosa, public sector officials and himself, it was decided to provide essential items at Landed Price rates until April next year.

“The prices of Rice, Dhal, Sugar, Sprats, B Onions, Potatoes and long beans would be provided at landed prices,” the Premier said.

“Cargills Food City, Laugfs, Richard Pieris and Company, John Keells Ltd. and Wickramaratne (Private) Ltd and Lanka Sathosa that participated the discussion agreed to provide this facility.

“The Government cannot address this issue alone.Therefore,the support of the private sector is needed to address this issue,”the Premier said.

The Premier further said that those private sector organisations and Sathosa could cater only to 30 percent of the requirement. He added that these organisations have agreed to provided transport to deliver essential items to the villages and the rest 70 percent of the consumers at landed price rates. However, it would take another fortnight for these commodities reach the villages.

He also said that if the prices of consumer items don’t see a reduction after taking these measures, the government would take steps to import them.

“The Gampaha District would be developed along with the area between Colombo and Gampaha in another 10 to 15 years,” the Prime Minister added.

He said further that the area extending to Mahara,Kadawatha, Yakkala, Ja-ela and Udugampola would be developed within this period making Gampaha one of the biggest cities in the country.

The Prime Minister further said that Gampaha was declared a new district in 1978 during the J.R.Jayewardene regime.

The fisheries and tourism industries in the Negombo area were promoted while Gampaha was developed as the administrative centre in the district.

The Premier added that the district and its surrounding areas would be developed under the guidance of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry.

“This ministry has had to find funds for its projects and also funds to settle the loans taken during the previous regime,” Premier Wickremesinghe said.

“However, the government is solving the people’s issues,”the Prime Minister added.

UNP Gampaha District Parliamentarian Ajith Mannapperuma said the rail track from Ragama to Veyangoda via Gampaha should be developed to three lanes as thousands of commuters travel by train between 6 am to 8 am everyday.

Source : Dailynews

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Leaders must promote, protect collective identities: Chandrika Kumaratunga

Leaders must recognise, promote, protect the specific collective identities of their nations, but they must also open up to the globalised world, former executive president of Sri Lanka Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said here on Saturday.

Speaking at the ongoing India Ideas conclave, Ms. Kumartunga hailed the leadership qualities of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln, and asserted, “Many of the conflicts which we see around us, in our region, in the world, may not have existed or could be resolved if we have leaders with such an agenda.”

“And when I say, specific identity of a nation, I do not mean only the identity of one group. The dominant group in a nation. I mean the collective identity of a nation, which is formed on this collective identities of all the communities, living within that nation,” said the Sri Lankan politician who served as the fifth President of Sri Lanka and survived many assassination attempts in ethnic-conflict-affected country.

Tracing the history of violence and conflicts, she said the demand for identity, the recognition for identity, right or wrong has “led to much violence in our generation within the last, I would say 75 years.”

“The conflicts we see around us, almost all of them are also founded on the demand of identity. Identity of groups within nations, or specific identities of different communities. Today this situation has been further exacerbated,” she said, adding, “ Even the major world powers, rather than opening out, are limiting themselves to promoting their specific interest of their nation. The recent America First policy adopted by the present American government is an example of this.”

Speaking of true inspirational leadership, she said leaders in general cannot follow people. They must lead them. “Indeed they must be sensitive to their people’s needs, their desires, their hopes, but they must lead them towards enlightenment, towards what is right for the nation, but also what is right for the world. A world marked by diverse communities, diverse peoples, different nations intermingled within,” said Ms. Kumartunga, and added, “With the recognition that each of the communities will have the right, the full right to equal status, to have the full right to their culture, their religions, their social traditions. But they must all come together in one nation, recognising the national identity as one nation.

Ms. Kumartunga invoked exceptional leaderships like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, who, she said “have gone beyond that, risen above that to bring the nation together, around one vision, around one interest of a nation and yet through recognition of diversity, the respect of diversity of difference.”

“I would say this is essential in this moment, in our modern world,” she said.

Source: The Hindu

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Haitian mothers seek support from Lanka's UN troops for ‘peacekeeper babies’

The mothers of Haiti’s “peacekeeper babies” have filed the first legal action against both the UN and individual peacekeeping soldiers in paternity and child support claims.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a protracted legal battle to make the soldiers contribute to the upkeep of children they allegedly fathered.

The alleged fathers are scattered around the globe, having returned to their homes in Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Argentina, making it difficult to proceed with claims.

One mother claims she was raped while another was aged 17 when she gave birth, which amounts to statutory rape under Haitian law. The lawsuit has been brought by human rights group Bureau Des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

Lawyers said they brought the lawsuit after the UN failed to respond to requests for the results of DNA tests and other details that would help with child support claims.

Pic: Reuters

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29 asylum seekers flown home to Sri Lanka

Australia repatriated Twenty Nine asylum seekers from Sri Lanka yesterday after being intercepted near Exmouth, a small resort town on Western Australia’s North West Cape.

2 children and 27 adults allegedly seeking asylum were tracked from the Cocos Islands towards the mainland coast.
They were intercepted at Learmonth Beach near Exmouth, where Australian Border Security retrieved them from the vessel they deemed to be not-seaworthy.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed they were flown home to Sri Lanka and said he believes they were headed for New Zealand.

Mr Dutton has criticised Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for publicising opportunities for people to go to New Zealand. He said he believes this gives boat people false hope that they can enter Australia through a back door system if they can get to New Zealand.

"He's been talking about the opportunity for people to go to New Zealand. In their mind it's an opportunity to back-door Australia through New Zealand. And that's why it's risky when it comes to border protection police when you think about Mr Shorten," Mr Dutton said.

 Pic: Coastlive

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JO makes a promise to the President

Sources claim that majority of the Joint opposition have promised President Maithripala Sirisena that they will extend their support to the SLFP to establish power in local government authorities in the upcoming elections. As reported by the ‘Sathhanda’ newspaper according to a prominent member of the SLFP the politicians have made these assurances after meeting with President Sirisena recent.

According to the report as nominations for the polls opened conflicts had arisen within the JO due to various individual ambitions and goals.

With the family rule of the Rajapaksa’s once again taking hold several MPs of the JO are set to cross over soon the report further stated.


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