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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s TRC draft has nothing to solve Tamils’ concerns – Sumanthiran

TNA MP M A Sumanthiran/Facebook

ECONOMYNEXT – A new draft on Sri Lanka’s Truth Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has failed to meet minimum expectations in addressing the concerns of ethnic minority Tamils who have lost their loved ones in what they allege as forced disappeared, in the final stage of the war, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator M A Sumanthiran said.

Thousands of people, mostly Tamils in Sri Lanka’s north and east, went missing during the civil war, which Tamils refer as “enforced disappearances”, citing that their relatives surrendered to the state military on the request of the government.

Most of the relatives of the disappeared people have been demanding for justice since the end of the war, but the government has failed to take any action on the disappeared people in the last 14 years since the end of the war. Tamils living in Western nations have pushed the United Nations Human Rights Council through their respective governments to address the enforced disappearance through a resolution.

Though Sri Lanka has opposed external intervention into the probe of alleged war crimes, it has been seriously considering a South African model Truth Reconciliation Commission (TRC) since 2016. Both Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry recently visited South Africa to emulate the model.

“On the ground, nothing is happening,” Sumanthiran, 59-year old legislator from Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna district told EconomyNext in an interview on Friday.

“They (government) are trying to bring in some laws, but then again they are not trying to consult anybody. They came up with a draft on TRC and asked me to comment. But there was nothing to comment. One doesn’t know why it is there. There is nothing about accountability or amnesty.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government wants to introduce a National Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka Act as part of its initiatives towards ethnic reconciliation.

Sumanthiran said the thousands of relatives have already given evidence and faced questions in at least 15 commissions to seek the truth on what happened to their relatives.

The government of former president Maithripala Sirisena created Office of Missing Person (OMP), Office for Reparations, and Office for National Unity and Reconciliation among many to address the alleged past human rights violations.

“The OMP has been conducting investigations. But also there is no movement forward. That also asking the same questions again and again,” the lawyer-turned-politician said.

“Same people who appeared before Paranagama Commission, are asked to appear again and again,” he said referring to a Commission that investigated complaints of abductions and disappearances; and to investigate and inquire into alleged serious violations of human rights respectively during the armed conflict.

The last UN resolution against Sri Lanka was passed last year giving the economic crisis-hit South Asian nation some more time to address lack of accountability for past violations and many unresolved cases of enforced disappearances among many (Colombo/June 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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