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Friday August 19th, 2022

Sri Lanka fails to investigate war crimes: UN expert

AFP – Sri Lanka has failed to deliver on its international commitments to prosecute government troops and Tamil rebels for atrocities committed during its ethnic war, a UN expert said Friday.

Ben Emmerson said Colombo’s efforts at transitional justice were at a "virtual standstill" eight years after the end of its ethnic war which had claimed over 100,000 lives.

"None of the measures so far adopted to fulfil Sri Lanka’s transitional justice commitments are adequate to ensure real progress," Emmerson told reporters in Colombo during an official visit to assess progress.

"There is little evidence that perpetrators of war crimes committed by members of the Sri Lankan armed forces are being brought to justice," said Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur on human rights.

Sri Lanka narrowly avoided sanctions when a new government came to power in January 2015 promising investigations into war-time atrocities, which the previous regime refused to even acknowledge.

The new administration of President Maithripala Sirisena secured more time from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to deliver justice, ensure reconciliation and prevent the island slipping back to ethnic strife.

But Emmerson said "retrograde elements" within the armed forces and the coalition government were stalling and expressed fears of a return to ethnic conflict.

"My plea to the government and the people of Sri Lanka is… not to allow the process to be diverted by retrograde elements in the security establishment and their allies in government," he said.

Sri Lankan forces were accused of killing up to 40,000 Tamil civilians during the final months of the war while defeating separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas who fought for independence.

International rights groups have called the prosecution of both the military as well as the Tigers, who were known for their trademark suicide bombings and child soldiers.

"The government has thus far done almost nothing to hold to account those members of the armed forces and security services who committed gross human rights violations during and since the conflict," he said.

Emmerson also called for the repeal of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

He said 12 suspects had been held under the PTA without trial for over 10 years, and another 70 had been held for over five years.

 

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Sri Lanka schedules 3-hour power cuts for Aug 20, 21: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will impose power cuts of up to three hours on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21, Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said.

All areas (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W) will have power cuts of 1 hours and 40 minutes between 10.30 am and 06.00 pm and 1 hour 20 minutes from 06.00pm to 10.00 pm.

Click here for a detailed schedule.

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said supply interruption time and restoration time will vary within 30 minutes as indicated above.

Sri Lanka’s daily scheduled power cuts that were reduced to one hour in July with power generation from hydro power plants contributing more than 50 percent to the main grid reducing thermal power plant use was extended to three hours last week due to a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant.

According to officials, the breakdown happened in Unit 1 of Norochcholai which will take around two weeks to repair.

The Minister of Power & Energy said Unit 2 is undergoing scheduled maintenance work while Unit 3 will continue to operate. West Coast and other fuel power pPlants will be used to manage the supply, the ministry said. (Colombo/Aug02/2022)

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Sri Lanka guidance peg edges T-bond yield edge down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions edged down on Friday (19), while yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly and in T-bill remain unquoted in dull trade, a day after the Central Bank announced the policy rates will remain stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.95/28.05 percent on Friday, slightly up from 27.90/28.00 percent on Thursday.

No T-bills were quoted on Friday, dealers said.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions further weakened by three cents to 361.00 rupees against the US dollar on Friday from 360.97 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 368.00 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 19/2022)

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Sri Lanka records 10 new COVID-19 deaths in 48 hours as case numbers rise

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths in the 48 hours from August 17 to 19 taking the country’s pandemic death toll to 16,640, health ministry data showed.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of public health restrictions relating to face masks and public gatherings.

Health authorities said the situation will be monitored constantly and have asked the general public to continue to follow basic hygiene measures in order to control the spread of the virus again in the community.

In August alone 2,924 new cases were recorded in Sri Lanka, with 84 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far in 2022, from January onward, health authorities have identified 81,157 patients to date.

Epidemiology unit data showed that 874 patients are currently receiving treatment, out of which 716 are receiving home based care.

The spread of the virus has increased with the use of public transport rising after an easing of a fuel crisis.

Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in securing essential medicine supplies for the health sector due to a forex shortage.

Health officials said if the number of COVID-19 patients rise to a level the health sector cannot manage,  with the added issues of fuel and medical shortages, the health system might collapse.

“It is the responsibility of us all. There is no use trying to forcibly control people. We all have the responsibility to reduce or stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control. We have been living with it for the past two years,” Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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