SecretaryGeneral to dispatch UN relief team to Sri Lankan combat zone

The dispatch of the team to the five square-mile pocket of land where fighting rages between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was agreed upon recently between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mr. Ban’s envoy, Vijay Nambiar, who also serves as his Chef de Cabinet.The purpose of the team will be to assess the situation and provide assistance to civilians, the Secretary-General told reporters today in Brussels.“It is critical that this beam be allowed into the zone as soon as possible and I am asking for strong support and speedy assistance of the Sri Lankan Government,” he said, adding that, for its part, the LTTE must put down its arms and protect civilians.“So many lives have been sacrificed and there is no time to lose,” Mr. Ban stressed, calling on the parties to respect the call issued by the Security Council yesterday, in which it urged both sides to respect international humanitarian law and allow aid agencies access those affected by fighting.Yesterday’s statement, read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the Council’s rotating monthly presidency, also strongly condemned the LTTE’s use of civilians as human shields and its actions that block people from leaving the conflict area.The 15-member body also appealed to the Tamil rebels to “renounce terrorism, allow UN-assisted evacuation of remaining civilians in the conflict area and join the political process of dialogue in order to put an end to the conflict.”Today, a senior UN relief official put the number of civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in the Vanni region at 50,000.Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that the Government has reported that 103,000 people have left the area and are in transit to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs)“We hope that those numbers are accurate,” but the world body cannot verify them, she said at a press briefing in New York.The most current information also points to 26,000 new arrivals at transit centres, as well as 95,000 IDPs seeking refuge in camps, up from 80,000 yesterday, Ms. Bragg said at a press briefing in New York.She also underscored the need for extra camps to accommodate the expected influx of more than 100,000 people, noting that the UN has been pressing the Sri Lankan Government for additional sites and relocation of IDPs now in camps to live with host families.“It is in the interest of the Government and the IDPs to be able to leave these camps as soon as possible,” Ms. Bragg said.She emphasized that both the Government and LTTE are violating international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians, with heavy weapons being used in the so-called no-fire zone and the LTTE preventing people from fleeing the “very horrendous situation” in the region.Also today, the UN issued an urgent plea for funds to meet the needs of IDPs who have fled the combat zone, with less than one-third of its $155 million appeal having been met to date.The exodus of tens of thousands of people has stretched humanitarian and Government capacities, according to a statement issued by the world body’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka.Many of those who escaped conflict “were forced from their homes more than a year ago, and it is something of a miracle that they have survived such a terrible ordeal,” said Neil Buhne. “We need to ensure that no more lives are lost by meeting their immediate needs, and beyond that to help them get back on their feet, so that they can eventually return to their homes.”He said he recently saw first hand how relief teams are scrambling to provide assistance to “crowds of weary and hungry people.”At camps at the town of Vavuniya which is housing most of the civilians who fled fighting, “I saw infants with dysentery, malnourished children and women, untended wounds, and people dressed in the ragged clothing they’ve been wearing for months,” Mr. Buhne said.The funds requested by the UN are intended to cover the costs of basic needs, such as food, medicine, water, sanitation, shelter and clothing, and also to help put children back into school to “give them some semblance of normality.” 23 April 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced that he will immediately send a United Nations humanitarian team to the shrinking conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, calling for the mission to be allowed into the area as soon as possible. read more

UNESCO head speaks out against killing of journalist in El Salvador

9 September 2009The head of the United Nations agency tasked with upholding press freedom today condemned the killing of a Franco-Spanish journalist and documentary film-maker in El Salvador. Christian Poveda, 52, was shot dead in Tonacatepeque, some 10 kilometres from the capital, San Salvador.According to Salvadoran press reports, the district is a fiefdom for the street gang known as Mara 18, about which Mr. Poveda, who documented violence in the Central American nation over the past three decades, had just finished making a film called La Vida Loca.“Christian Poveda was a committed chronicler of our times and it is a tragedy that he was made to pay for his professional commitment with his life,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).He also expressed hope that those people behind the journalist’s killing will be brought to justice.The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization, said that media professionals covering gang violence in El Salvador and elsewhere in the region have become targets, with security concerns hindering in-depth reporting on the origins and cause of the violence. read more

Food electricity water top priorities for postquake Chile UN relief wing reports

3 March 2010The situation in the main areas of Chile affected by the recent earthquake is still critical, the United Nations relief wing reported today, noting that access to food and the restoration of electricity and drinking water are still the top priorities. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 723 people were killed and 2 million affected by the 8.8-magnitude quake, which occurred just off the coast of Chile early Saturday morning. The Government of Chile has declared 6 out of its 15 regions as zones of catastrophe – Valparaiso, Metropolitana, Libertador O´Higgins, Araucania, Biobío and Maule.Yesterday the Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, told a news conference that the UN stands ready to support in every way possible, adding that rescue and relief efforts in the six affected regions is “firmly in the hands” of the Chilean Government.The Government has so far requested very specific priority items, such as field hospitals with surgical facilities, dialysis centres, generators, satellite phones, structural damage evaluation systems, salt water purification systems, mobile bridges and field kitchens.The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), reported today that the first foreign field hospitals from Argentina and Peru have already arrived in Chile and will be deployed to areas where the local hospitals sustained severe damage.In addition, the agency has produced guidelines on how to ensure that mobile field hospitals can be most effective and not place an undue burden on local health authorities.“Mobile field hospitals will make a contribution if they are requested by the national health authorities; they can be quickly dispatched and set up without draining resources at the local level; and if they require only minimal support from the community itself,” it stated.In a related development, it was reported today that the headquarters of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), located in the capital, Santiago, suffered no serious structural damage, but parts of the main building continue to pose a security risk for staff members.As such, staff whose offices are in good condition will return to work tomorrow, while the remaining staff will return gradually as repairs advance and staff safety is ensured. read more

Innovation key in combating climate change Germany tells General Assembly

“Anyone who’s serious about combating climate change has to build on innovation, new technologies and exchange,” Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs told the General Assembly’s high-level debate at UN Headquarters in New York.“Germany will contribute its technological expertise, for example in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency.“In this way we’re turning the challenge of climate change into opportunity for fair development and enhanced cooperation. Climate policy is a cornerstone of any sustainable development policy,” Mr. Westerwelle said.He said Germany’s “forward-looking energy strategy” will enable the country to have 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050.Germany has also pledged to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by the 40 per cent by 2020, compared to the 1990 baseline. “Even now, we have reduced our carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent. We are pioneers in the field of climate protection,” Mr. Westerwelle added.He also stressed the importance of education, saying it was key to development, helped protect people from oppression and discrimination, and eliminated prejudices.“It is because education will determine whether societies succeed or fail in tomorrow’s world that Germany is one of the major international partners for learning. By building on education, we building bridges to the future for the young people of today,” Mr. Westerwelle said.In a meeting with Mr. Westerwelle on the sidelines of the Assembly’s high-level debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked Germany for its consistent support of the UN and recognized the country’s contributions in efforts to fight climate change. Mr. Ban also expressed appreciation of Germany’s help in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Sudan and Somalia. 25 September 2010Germany today emphasized innovation in efforts to combat climate change, telling the General Assembly to that it will contribute its technological expertise in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency to help both developed and developing countries build sustainable development. read more

Milestone reached as Fiji becomes 150th nation to ratify UN antidoping treaty

17 November 2010Fiji has ratified the United Nations treaty against the practice of doping in sports, bringing the number of State parties to the first legal instrument that imposes uniform rules, tests and sanctions against the scourge to 150. The International Convention Against Doping in Sport, which promotes no-advance-notice, out-of-competition and in-competition testing, was adopted unanimously by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2005. The treaty is designed to ensure a consistent approach to anti-doping efforts and compel governments into action to restrict the supply of performance-enhancing substances and methods, curtail trafficking and regulate dietary and nutritional supplements. Since entering into force on 1 February 2007, the Convention has become one of UNESCO’s most rapidly implemented treaties. “The ratification of this Convention by so many countries in so short a time shows just how seriously the problem of doping in sport is taken by the world’s governments,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a news release. The Paris-based agency is working with States to implement anti-doping education, policy and prevention programmes in support of the Convention. More than 30 countries, for example, have received financial assistance through UNESCO’s Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport. “While the Convention provides the roadmap, the Fund provides the means to achieve its principal objective” to promote the fight against doping so that future generations can enjoy and excel in doping-free sport,” said Ms. Bokova. read more

Sudanese leader still committing crimes in Darfur Security Council told

8 June 2011Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir continues to commit crimes against humanity and carry out genocide against the residents of Darfur in defiance of the United Nations, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Security Council today. In 2005 the Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law. The ICC has since issued arrest warrants against Mr. Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court.“President al-Bashir has learned how to continue to commit crimes challenging the authority of the UN Security Council, and ignoring Resolution 1593, as well as other resolutions,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said as he presented his 13th report to the Council.Mr. Bashir and his supporters “continue denying the crimes, attributing them to other factors (such as inter-tribal clashes), diverting attention by publicizing ceasefire agreements that are violated as soon as they are announced, and finally proposing the creation of special courts to conduct investigations that will never start,” he said.“The challenge to the Security Council’s authority is further evidence that the extermination of the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa, as well as any tribe deemed disloyal to the regime, is a policy defined by the top leadership of the Government of the Sudan.“It is calculated to ensure that the armed forces, their associated militia and other security bodies will continue committing new crimes, with the same modus operandi, wherever and whenever they are instructed to do so.”Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said Mr. Bashir had threatened the international community with retaliation and more crimes as a result of his indictment. “This tactic is not new; it is the documented practice of massive criminals – denial, cover-up, and threat of repetition.”He urged the Council to use the information exposed by the ICC to stop the crimes in Darfur, adding that the “prosecution, fulfilling its mandate, is willing to assist.”Speaking to reporters after briefing the Council, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the recent arrest of the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, after nearly 16 years on the run, had shown the world that arrest warrants will eventually be carried out.“Arrest warrants are not going away. Bashir is destined to face justice. The problem is the time [it will take] for the victims,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.He also told that the Council another Sudanese war crimes suspect indicted by the ICC for atrocities in Darfur, Ahmad Harun, has continued his illegal actions with impunity as a senior Government official.“The record of Ahmad Harun provides a clear demonstration of the risk of impunity and ignoring information about crimes,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.“In my seventh report to this Council… three years ago, I expressed concern about Harun having been dispatched to Abyei to ‘address disputes’ between the Misseriya and the SPLM/A [Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army]. Following his dispatch, as I reported, Abyei was burned down, with 50,000 civilians displaced.“In my ninth report, presented on 5 June 2009, two years ago, I expressed concern about Harun’s appointment… as Governor of South Kordofan. He is presenting himself as an efficient operator and is dubbed by the some members of the international community as the man to talk to get things done.”Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also noted to the Council that the ICC had in March confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders who stand accused of orchestrating the 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 African Union peacekeepers in the Haskanita area of Darfur.Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo have not disputed their participation in the attack and both have committed to surrender voluntarily to the ICC for trial. They have, however, demanded that Mr. Bashir too appear before ICC judges and respect the court’s decisions, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the Council. read more

UN officials call for building on momentum to promote human rights everywhere

Building on the momentum for change triggered by the Arab Spring, top United Nations officials have urged everyone, everywhere to join in the Internet and social media campaign launched on the occasion of Human Rights Day to help more people know, demand and defend their rights.“In 2011, the very idea of ‘power’ shifted,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a message to mark Human Rights Day, which is observed annually on 10 December. “During the course of this extraordinary year, it was wielded not just by mighty institutions in marble buildings, but increasingly by ordinary men, women, and even children, courageously standing up to demand their rights,” she said.“The message of this unexpected global awakening was carried in the first instance not by the satellites of major media conglomerates, or conferences, or other traditional means – although these all played a role – but by the dynamic and irrepressible surge of social media.”This year’s Day is building on the pro-reform movements witnessed across North Africa and the Middle East, and social media’s vital contribution to them, to encourage more people to get involved in the global human rights movement. The campaign by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) focuses on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and aims to help more people know, demand and defend human rights. “Today, as in the past, editorial and financial factors – as well as access – determine whether or not protests, and repression of protests, are televised or reported in newspapers around the world,” noted Ms. Pillay. “But, wherever it happens, you can now guarantee it will be tweeted on Twitter, posted on Facebook, broadcast on YouTube, and uploaded onto the Internet…“Instead we are seeing real lives in real struggle, broadcast in real time – and it is in many ways an exhilarating sight,” she added. “In sum, in 2011, human rights went viral.”Today at UN Headquarters, Ms. Pillay hosted a global human rights dialogue at which she answered questions sent in via different social media platforms from all over the world. It was one of several elements of the “Celebrate Human Rights” campaign, which also featured an online discussion on Facebook and Twitter that began a month ago called “30 Days and 30 Rights” that counted down to the Day with a daily posting about one article of the Declaration.Speaking to reporters in New York, Ms. Pillay noted that the events were built around the idea that, even though much time is spent focusing on human rights violations, there is also much to celebrate in terms of what has been achieved thanks to the vision laid out in the Declaration.“The response to our social media campaign has been tremendous, with hundreds of questions pouring in from dozens of different countries all over the world, confirming – if we really still need confirmation after a year like 2011 – that human rights are indeed universal,” she said.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, noted that human rights belong to everyone, without exception. “But unless we know them, unless we demand they be respected, and unless we defend our right – and the right of others – to exercise them, they will be just words in a decades-old document,” he stated.“Many of these peaceful demonstrators persevered despite being met with violence and further repression. In some countries, the struggle continues; in others, important concessions were gained or dictators were toppled as the will of the people prevailed…“We know there is still too much repression in our world, still too much impunity, still too many people for whom rights are not yet a reality,” said Mr. Ban. “Yet at the end of an extraordinary year for human rights, let us take strength from the achievements of 2011: new democratic transitions set in motion, new steps to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, new and ever-spreading awareness of rights themselves.”Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said in his message that the Declaration’s adoption in 1948 was the first time that the world articulated in detail fundamental rights and freedoms that belong to all human beings without distinction. Half a century later, the adoption of the Rome Statute – which established the ICC – represented another “ground-breaking” development toward a more humane world, he said.“The crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction – genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – inherently involve violations of the right to life and liberty, as well as subjection to torture and slavery.” The ICC has become one of the major institutions for addressing massive violations of human rights. “It is a means for thousands of victimized children, women and men to see justice done and, through the possibility of victims’ participation and reparations, to lead a better present. “Above all, the ICC is an essential building block for a better future – because the trials of today will deter the crimes of tomorrow,” stated Judge Song.Today also marks the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and Ms. Pillay stated that the ultimate responsibility for preventing genocide lies with States. “Genocide is the ultimate form of discrimination. We must do everything in our power to prevent it,” she stated.The UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, called on Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations, civil society and the UN system to work together to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes as a matter of the highest priority.“Doing so will demonstrate our common humanity, our fundamental values, and our collective and individual determination not to repeat the mistakes of the past,” they said in a joint statement. 9 December 2011Building on the momentum for change triggered by the Arab Spring, top United Nations officials have urged everyone, everywhere to join in the Internet and social media campaign launched on the occasion of Human Rights Day to help more people know, demand and defend their rights. read more

UN political team to visit Maldives for talks on democratic transition

3 February 2012A United Nations political team heads to the Maldives next week for talks on how to help support the Indian Ocean archipelago in its transition to democracy. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters today that a mission from the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), headed by Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, is slated to arrive in the Maldives on 9 February.The mission will meet with Government officials, opposition leaders and civil society representatives to both discuss the current situation and identify opportunities to support the democratic transition, Mr. Nesirky said.In November last year UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay visited the Maldives and said the country had made “significant advances” during the first few years of its transition, but a gap still existed between the rhetoric and the reality on the ground.Multi-party presidential elections were held for the first time in 2008, ending 30 years of one-party rule, and the country has ratified six of seven core international treaties. read more

Top Canadian scientists urge cautious approach to fracking until more known of

A report from a panel of top Canadian scientists is urging a go-slow approach to the booming industry of hydraulic natural gas fracking.So little is known about the long-term impacts of extracting gas by fracturing rock beds with high-pressure fluids that scientists and regulators need to start now to understand how to develop the resource safely and cleanly, said co-author Rick Chalaturnyk, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta.“Perhaps cautionary is the right philosophy,” he said. “We really do stand a chance to put in place the regulatory framework to answer the questions around environmental impact.”Chalaturnyk was part of a panel formed by the Council of Canadian Academies, an independent organization that brings together university researchers from across Canada to look at public policy issues. It was asked by Environment Canada in 2012 to examine fracking and drew its conclusions from publicly available, peer-reviewed research.Its 292-page report says that the economic benefits could be significant across Canada. There are substantial or potential deposits of shale gas in all provinces and territories except Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Nunavut.“Canada’s shale gas resources dwarf the 60.4 trillion cubic feet of marketable gas reserves that the National Energy Board estimated remained in Canada at the end of 2010,“ says the report.However, it found significant uncertainty on the risks to the environment and human health, which include possible contamination of ground water as well as exposure to poorly understood mixtures of chemicals.“The scale and pace at which shale gas resources are being developed are challenging the ability to assess and manage their environmental impacts.”The effects on ground water from fracking water pumped underneath the surface are one concern.“There is reason to believe that shale gas development poses a risk to water resources, but the extent of that risk, and whether substantial damage has already occurred, cannot be assessed because of a lack of scientific data and understanding,” the report says.Exposure to chemicals is another. A long list of substances must be added to fracking water and their possible effects on human and environmental health are unknown. Some jurisdictions don’t even require industry to list what chemicals are being used.“There is only minimal reference literature and no peer-reviewed literature that assess the potential for the various chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids to persist, migrate and impact the various types of subsurface systems or to discharge to surface waters.”Many suggest that increased fracking could help mitigate climate change through the increased use of natural gas, which emits less carbon than fuels such as coal. The council’s report notes that natural gas is itself a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, and emissions from leaking wells could outweigh the benefit from replacing other fuels.The report also notes that fracking has only been around for 10 years or so in Canada — not enough time to assess its long-term effects, which could play out over decades.It warned against being blinded by the lure of big bucks. “The lessons provided by the history of science and technology concerning all major energy sources and many other industrial initiatives show that substantial environmental impacts were typically not anticipated,” the report says.“What is perhaps more alarming is that where substantial adverse impacts were anticipated, these concerns were dismissed or ignored by those who embraced the expected positive benefits of the economic activities that produced those impacts.”Chalaturnyk said the report should form the basis of a much-needed political, regulatory and public debate about understanding and managing the industry. “The public needs to be firmly engaged in this conversation.” read more

ICE Futures Canada quotes and cash prices

WINNIPEG — Grain quotes Tuesday for tonnes, basis Lakehead:Canola (Vancouver): Open High Low Close MonJuly ‘ 17 0.00 0.00 0.00 579.20 582.80Nov. 530.00 532.50 524.40 527.20 530.40Jan. ’18 532.10 535.30 528.40 531.00 533.60March 535.10 537.70 532.00 534.00 536.90May 533.30 537.90 532.70 533.50 537.10July 533.40 538.40 531.20 533.70 537.80Nov. 489.10 491.10 486.30 490.00 497.30Jan. ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.70 498.00March 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.70 498.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.70 498.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.70 498.00Barley (Western): Open High Low Close MonJuly ’17 0.00 0.00 0.00 138.00 138.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00March ’18 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00March ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00ICE Futures Canada cash prices:Feed wheat: Track Thunder Bay CW: $178.00Canola:Thunder Bay No. 1 Canada: $532.20 (November 2017)Vancouver No. 1 Canada: $552.20 (November 2017) read more

MR says Asia should not be a playground for others

The President also noted that Asia is confronted with pressing challenges such as the menace of terrorism, piracy, climate change, natural disasters, environmental pollution and anti-social activities and he these challenges are a call for greater cooperation as is seen in the ACD.“One other challenge many developing countries, such as mine, are facing is the burden placed on the developing world by rapidly fluctuating oil prices. This has imposed a heavy strain on our resources thereby hampering our long term plans on development,” the President added. The countries of Asia can succeed in rebuilding our continent by greater reliance on our cultural affinity, rich history, and the strength of our human resources, the President added. President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the Asian Continent cannot be the playground of other forces, who seek its wealth, assets of nature and human resources.Addressing the first Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit in Kuwait the President said that Asia’s progress must draw from the best of its own cultures, while learning from the best of others who come with genuine friendship. He said that Asia should strive to regain and safeguard its independence that is challenged on many fronts and across many borders. read more

Royal Thurstan senior classes close following clash

The police and military were deployed outside both schools to prevent further clashes.A similar clash had occurred earler this month as well and several students were injured. The Education Ministry has decided to close Grade 10, 11, 12 and 13 tomorrow following the clash between senior students of both schools today.A clash had erupted along Reid Avenue this afternoon between the students and a policeman had been injured during the incident.

Indonesia transfers Sri Lankan migrants

“They left after being boarded on a flight at the Minangkabau International Airport (BIM). In Medan the UNHCR will investigate whether they are refugees or asylum seekers,” the Chief Immigration officer at Padang, Elfinur said. A group of Sri Lankan illegal immigrants have been transferred from a detention center in Padang to Medan in North Sumatra, local media reports said.The Indonesian media said that the Padang Immigration Office sent 16 Sri Lankan illegal immigrants to Medan, the third group of illegal immigrants to be transferred this week. Elfinur said that the immigrants were transferred from Padang because the detention center was full. The Sri Lankans who were transferred had reached Indonesia by boat while heading to Australia to seek asylum.Nearly 46 Sri Lankans were arrested earlier this year and detained at Padang but according to the Indonesian media the detention center at Padang can accommodate only half of that amount. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Lanka seeks higher wages

The official stressed that such an agreement is essential in light of increased incidents of harassment, nonpayment of salaries, killing of maids by their employers, suicides and industrial accidents reported during recent years.“We do not approve of women going overseas to work as domestic workers, but we cannot put an end to it in one go. Therefore, we have launched several programs to upgrade their skills and find better employment opportunities for them in specialized vocations.”Sri Lanka aims to reduce the number of women going overseas to work as domestic aides by 80 to 90 percent by the year 2020. Currently, around 300,000 Lankans are working in Saudi Arabia. Randeniya said that the Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry would reconsider the request if Saudi Arabia was ready to pay higher salaries and willing to give security assurances to domestic workers. “It is necessary for them to enter into a bilateral agreement before sending more housemaids,” Randeniya said, adding that such an agreement has been sent to the Kingdom’s Labor Ministry for approval. The profession would be stated as “domestic house-keeping assistant” inside the passport instead of “housemaid.”Maids should be allowed at least eight hours of sleep a day, he said. “We will also demand higher pay.”“We want to offer more skilled and quality manpower to the Kingdom and other regional job markets,” he added. A senior official from the Sri Lankan government said that it needs higher wages and adequate security for domestic workers seeking employment in Saudi Arabia.Mangala Randeniy, deputy-general manager of the SLFBE, told Arab News from Colombo that his country is no longer interested in sending more housemaids to West Asian countries, including Saudi Arabia, unless those countries come out with an attractive salary package which commensurates with their hard work, Arab News reported. Randeniya pointed out that conditions include minimum wage, working hours and the type of training to be given back home.SLBFE is the statutory body that coordinates with foreign countries for the overseas employment of its workers.Randeniya said that the minimum age limit for housemaids traveling to the Kingdom would be 25 years of age and that their minimum monthly wage will be set at SR 900.He explained that housemaids who come for foreign employment would be given a 21-day residential training course before being posted to overseas stations. He said that the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment would assist companies in host countries to train other workers according to their needs. “We have well-established training centers to update prospective foreign workers with skills,” he said, adding that they could supply trainers to help employers in their workplaces.“An innovative mechanism is currently being developed in Sri Lanka to implement job-specific, country-specific and company-specific training programs for citizens who seek opportunities abroad,” he said. read more

Sri Lanka military is on alert says Army Chief

He also attributed the presence of the former President of Afghanistan as the keynote speaker to the inaugural sessions as a very notable feature in this year’s arrangements. He would be one of the most suitable persons to comment on the Seminar’s main theme, ‘National Security in the Context of Emerging Global Threats’, the Commander added.Major General Jagath Dias adding a few words to the occasion told the Media that one should not forget the fact that army personnel who had been serving the north in the aftermath of the war had never been accused of any wrong-doing.“Instead, those northern people have been reaching us for assistance all the time. That fact proves how effective our professional conduct is right throughout,” he said. Sri Lanka is now one of the most peaceful countries but the military is still on alert to global threats, be it drug peddling, human trafficking, man made and natural disasters or terrorism, Army Commander Lieutenant Crishanthe De Silva said today.He was speaking at a press conference held to brief the media on the 5th Defence Seminar – 2015 which takes place at the Colombo Galadari Hotel next month. He said the seminar has also contributed to strengthening of the mutual bonds of goodwill with all supporting the country and its armed forces. “We have extended invitations to the US ambassador and a number of diplomats. Ambassadors for China and Pakistan are among invited speakers to the sessions. The Army in the past six years after the war reached high degree of professionalism through the experiences and special training sessions conducted. It is this professionalism which has brought commendation to the organization,” the Commander pointed out.This year’s comprehensive two-day sessions while mainly focusing on ‘National Security in the Context of Emerging Global Threats’ are segmented into nine separate sessions under sub themes, such as ‘Nature of Threats Affecting the National Security of a Nation’, ‘Emerging World Order’, ‘Terrorism and Challenges to National Security’ and ‘Non-military Threats to National Security’ etc and the seminar is to be attended by 350 invitees, including 66 foreign delegates. “For any military in the world, national security is the priority and all military officers are therefore committed to preserve it. This forum discusses and exchanges views on matters of security concern to the region as well as to the world, taking current global trends into consideration. The Army has gained recognition for conduct of this interactive dialogue since its founding in 2011. This has enabled us to get a better exposure and the ever swelling numbers attending it every year itself is a testimony to this global recognition”, the Commander said. read more

Sri Lanka condemns terrorist attack in Indonesian capital

President Joko Widodo has denounced the attacks and said the country would not be defeated by acts of terror. (Colombo Gazette) The Jakarta Globe reported that at least six people were dead in a series of bombings and gunfire outside the Sarinah department store on Jalan M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta. Sri Lanka reiterated its strong commitment to work with the international community including Indonesia to eradicate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The first explosion was reported at 10:50 a.m. in the car park of the Starbucks at the Skyline building adjacent to Sarinah, and was followed by six more blasts over the next 10 minutes, including at the police post at the intersection of Jalan Thamrin and Jalan K.H. Wahid Hasyim, according to witnesses.Six people are reported to have died in the explosions and shootings, including a police officer whom witnesses said was shot by a gunman. A police spokesman the perpetrators were on foot and on motorcycles, but could not say how many of them there were. The Sri Lanka Government today strongly condemned the terrorist attack which took place in Jakarta this morning.The Government extended its condolences to the families of the victims who died in the incident. read more

Task Force invites submissions from public in truth and justice process

Submissions can be made by individuals, groups and organizations, in Sinhala, Tamil or English. These submissions will be used in the compilation of a report, which will be submitted to the Government and made public.The deadline for submissions is 1st May 2016. Early submission, however, is encouraged. All submissions can be made via the submissions form on “www.scrm.gov.lk” or “contact@scrm.gov.lk”, and also by registered post to “Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, Republic building, Sir Baron Jayathilaka Mw., Colombo 01”. The submissions to the Consultation Task Force will be made public, unless some one makes a request that it should be kept confidential. (Colombo Gazette) The Task Force today invited submissions from the public on the design of structures, processes and measures to seek truth and justice, ensure accountability and offer redress. The Consultations Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms has invited submissions from the public on the design of structures, processes and measures to seek truth and justice, ensure accountability and offer redress to the victims of the war.The Government has indicated that it is considering an Office of Missing Persons, a Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-Recurrence Commission, a Judicial Mechanism with a Special Counsel and an Office of Reparations in order to seek truth and justice and ensure accountability for human rights violations. The submissions can be made on one or more of the mechanisms (including but not limited to the mandate of each mechanism, composition, types of violations to be covered, tasks to be performed) and alternative structures, processes or measures to address a specific violation or multiple violations or other relevant issues (including but not limited to mandate, composition, types of violations to be covered, tasks to be performed). read more

Suspect involved in Fort bomb attack sentenced to jail

Among those killed in the attack were eight school children who were part of the D. S. Senanayake College baseball team and their coach.The Government claimed the attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber, belonging to the LTTE. (Colombo Gazette) A suspect involved in the 2008 Fort suicide bomb attack was today sentenced to 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI).The suicide attack resulted in 12 people being killed and over 100 others sustaining injuries.

Hoole writes to President over attempt to arrest him

“They know who I am. There is even a (long-forgotten) sign up book at my gate for police patrols from when I joined the Commission. My house is in front of the Department of Education, a church, and a Government school besides being next to a church school. The incident attracted much public attention – I feel that the Election Commission is being demeaned by publicly making out that I am a criminal. After all, how can a criminal be responsible for elections? The incident has evoked much fear in me on whether the Election Commission can be independent and in my wife and children on whether we can be safe in Sri Lanka,” he said. Download (PDF, 472KB) Hoole says the Police purported to act on an old 2011 warrant when a Minister of the then Government, Douglas Devananda, filed false criminal charges against him in retaliation for reporting election irregularities of the then Government in July 2011. “This included the harassment of opposition candidates, police jeeps going about without number plates, and the President’s double life-size poster placed inside polling stations in Kayts. It was falsely alleged that I aggravated Government supporters and thereby instigated a riot. Hence the charges were criminal charges. I was served with summons in the form of a letter; however, in the letter my name was misspelt and the legal procedures had not been accurately followed. I was advised by different lawyers to flee because the said summons were not proper and because they feared the culture of political fomented in Kayts by the then Government. Flee I did, and the open warrant was issued,” he said.Hoole returned to Sri Lanka on 26 August 2015 as soon as the new Government was elected and went straight from the airport to the court in Kayts. National Election Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole has written to President Maithripala Sirisena over an attempt made by the Police to arrest him using a recalled warrant.In the letter Hoole says the Police went to his house in Jaffna with a warrant for his arrest and the incident attracted much public attention. “I was released on bail with my brother and daughter standing surety, and the warrant was recalled. The Kayts OIC issued me a letter saying that the warrant was recalled,” he said.Hoole says when armed policemen attempted to arrest him last week he had contacted the Election Commission, Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya who had later contacted police headquarters and in turn the Police DIG North. The Police officers later withdrew. (Colombo Gazette)See letter below: read more

CPC issues red notice to SriLankan Airlines on fuel payments

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has issued a red notice to SriLankan Airlines saying it will suspend fuel supplies to the National airline if outstanding payments are not paid by Wednesday.According to the CPC, SriLankan Airlines has an outstanding of more than Rs. 12 Billion to pay CPC and if the payment is not made by Wednesday fuel will not be distributed to SriLankan Airlines.