Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sri Lanka feels India will support it at UNHCR

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS – 15 hours ago
 Colombo, Jan 31 (IANS) Sri Lanka is confident that India will support it in the face of a US-backed resolution on human rights issues at the UNHRC meet in Geneva this year.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was insistent that India would side with Sri Lanka despite Indian media reports to the contrary.
"Our position is that India is our greatest friend and closest neighbour and they have been extremely supportive in many issues and they have been a friend indeed. So we believe that stand," he told the media.
"Of course last time they had to opt out, they had given certain reasons, all this we discuss at a diplomatic level.
"From time to time international relations change for a variety of reasons. But we still believe they are our greatest friend and we have had that cordiality right throughout," he added.
In 2012 India voted for a US-backed resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva pulling up Colombo over widespread rights abuses during the war and seeking reconciliation measures.
The Indian vote tipped the balance against Sri Lanka, leading to Colombo's defeat.
After the Indian vote, bilateral relations between the two countries chilled to the point of President Mahinda Rajapaksa openly criticizing the Indian government. The issue was later smoothed over.
On Thursday, an Indian newspaper quoted US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore as telling Sri Lankan journalists that he was confident India would back the new resolution.
Rambukwella was adamant that the US resolution would not have a negative impact on the economy and insisted that foreign direct investment (FDI) would not be affected.
"As far as FDI is concerned, I don't think human rights are the reason because there are people investing in countries with wars. There are other reasons as well like infrastructure, which we are doing...
"So there are much bigger reasons or more concerns which have to be addressed," he said. "Human rights are part of it but it's not the one and only reason."
The minister said Sri Lanka was confident could lobby enough votes from member countries to defeat the US-backed resolution.
"There is no guilty conscience... We are very confident. In the event that something happens, we feel it is an (US) agenda they are working on.
"And these agendas have been there, and we are very mindful of it," he said. "We are content with what we have been doing, and we shall continue to meet the challenge as it arises."

UK minister satisfied with post-conflict progress in Lanka

Press Trust of India / Colombo January 31, 2013, 18:05

 A visiting British Minister today expressed satisfaction at the progress made by Sri Lanka after the nearly three decade-long conflict, as he visited Tamil-dominated war-ravaged areas in the north.
"I have been pleased to see progress in some areas since the end of the conflict. The destructive force of war–tearing lives, families, societies and countries apart, is only too evident in this part of the country," Alistair Burt, the British foreign office deputy minister, said.
Burt made the comments at the northern district of Kilinochchi. Burt is on his second Sri Lanka visit in as many years.

"It is great to see young Sri Lankans leading efforts to heal wounds and to unite Sri Lankans of all backgrounds in the task of reconciliation and recovery", he said.
Burt visited the Keppapilavu displaced location site where the last bits of a near 300,000 civilians displaced at the last stage of the military conflict three years ago are housed and expressed hope that they would soon be able to return to their homes.
He was a guest at 'Sri Lanka Unites' centre, a UK funded project which provides youth in the former LTTE military nerve centre of Mullaithivu to be engaged in recreational activities through sports as well as social media.
The British minister is the latest in a string of foreign government representatives to tour Sri Lanka since the advent of the new year.
Three top US State Department officials and an Australian parliamentary delegation have just concluded their visits.
The international focus on Sri Lanka has increased in the recent times with another key UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka due to be moved in the March session.
The visits assume added significance with Sri Lanka due to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGM) meeting in November.
Canada has threatened to stay away from CHOGM unless Sri Lanka showed progress in reconciliation efforts with the Tamil minority.
Also some concerns have been raised by governments over Sri Lanka's move to impeach its first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
She cried foul of the process leading to doubts if the move impinged on shared commonwealth values on the independence of judiciary.

Pakistan - Sri Lanka organizing a joint seminar

Fri, 2013-02-01 01:52 — editor
Colombo, 01 February, (
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development in Sri Lanka Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development in Sri Lanka will deliver a keynote address at a joint seminar on “Political and Diplomatic Challenges Faced by Nations During and After Conflicts Confined to Borders.”
The Joint Seminar is expected to be organized by the High Commission of Pakistan in collaboration with the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies on the 11th of February at the Kadirgamar Institute.
The seminar is bringing together eminent personalities from both the countries to deliberate on the ramifications of conflicts on nations.
The thematic relevance of seminar to current national narratives of Sri Lanka and Pakistan will provide an introspective opportunity to develop frameworks for mitigation, averting and management of internal conflicts.
Sharing experiences, the panel of experts, will provide policy inputs and frameworks for creating holistic paradigms to resolve political, economic and defence issues at home and diplomatic challenges faced in the international arena.
Universally, building an effective government within a constitutional framework that has the trust of the people is a political challenge that governments face during and after the conflicts. The need to address humanitarian crisis after a conflict, establishing the rule of law, maintaining macro-economic stability and development of social services and infrastructure are some of the post-conflict political challenges that will be discussed at the seminar.
The externalization of internal conflicts and the misrepresentation of facts during conflicts lead to diplomatic challenges. Diplomacy, in times of internal conflicts, is instrumental in managing relations and mustering international support for national cause.
Furthermore, challenges in countering extremism and terrorism, and promoting pluralism will receive focus at the seminar. The seminar also aims at identifying economic opportunities and challenges in South Asia as a region.
Working in partnership with the government, private-sector and community organizations, the Kadirgamar Institute is the host of a series of national conferences on reconciliation. The institute also conducts seminars and lectures by eminent scholars. The High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka and the Kadirgamar Institute invites all those interested, to participate in the Seminar. For confirmation please contact the institute.
The Speakers of the Seminar are:
• Prof. G. L. Peiris, M.P., Minister of External Affairs, Sri Lanka
• Ms. Amna Baloch, Acting High Commissioner for Pakistan in Sri Lanka
• Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Sri Lanka-Keynote Address
• Mr. Riaz Khokhar, Former Foreign Secretary, Pakistan
• Mr. Nihal Rodrigo, Former Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary SG/SAARC, Ambassador to China
• Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, Senior Analyst, Pakistan
• Prof. H D. Karunaratne, Faculty of Management and Finance, University of Colombo
• Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, Head, Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Singapore
• Lt. Gen. (Retired) Hamid Khan, Defence Analyst, Pakistan
• Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, Attorney-at-Law, Dean, Faculty of Law, Kotelawala Defence University,Commissioner, Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Senior lecturer, University of Colombo
• Prof. D.S. Withane, Professor of Strategic Studies, Faculty of Defence and Strategic Studies, Sir John Kotalawala Defence University
The Moderators of the Seminar will be:
• Mr. V. Krishnamoorthy, Director General, South Asia and SAARC Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Sri Lanka
• Dr. Mariam Saeed (Ms.), Second Secretary (Political Affairs), High Commission for Pakistan in Sri Lanka
- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lanka ban on maids abroad excludes Lebanon: minister

The Daily Star
January 31, 2013 08:48 PM (Last updated: January 31, 2013 08:55 PM)
BEIRUT: Sri Lanka’s plan to ban women travelling abroad to work in menial jobs excludes Lebanon, a Sri Lankan government minister said Thursday in Beirut, as the two countries draft an agreement over the issue.
“[There is] no ban on the travel of domestic workers and Sri Lankan labor to Lebanon, on the contrary we are working to better the conditions of their experiences here and raise the age of those with the right to travel from 21 to 23,” Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment and Social Services Dylan Pereira told reporters.
His comments came after meeting Lebanon’s Labor Minister Salim Jreissati at the latter’s office.
Pereira also said that his country is teaching its citizens both Arabic and English so that they can communicate better with their employers in Lebanon.
The meeting between the two officials was aimed at drafting a new agreement that will soon be signed governing Sri Lankan labor rights.
Jreissati said Lebanon guarantees decent labor and fair wages for domestic workers, adding that he is drafting a code of conduct for decent labor.
Following the beheading of a 17-year-old nanny in Saudi Arabia, Sri Lankan Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced last Thursday that women under 25 were now banned from going to the Arab state to work as maids.
Sri Lankan Rizana Nafik was charged with smothering a four-month-old baby in Saudi Arabia in 2005.
Lebanon has seen many cases of abuse against domestic workers with activists criticizing the sponsorship system for promoting such practices.
In a 2008 report, Human Rights Watch found that there was an average of one death a week from unnatural causes among domestic workers in Lebanon, including suicide and falls from tall buildings.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Appeal to United Nations to ban punishments by the Saudi Regime against expatriate workers

Mon, 2013-01-28 04:04 — editor
By Zulkifli Nazim
Many expatriates from various countries who are employed in Saudi Arabia are subject to severe hardships, misfortune and afflictions because of the prevailing laws of that country.
The Saudi Government is at liberty to implement its Company Laws and recruiting and employment systems etc., but when it comes to the question of enforcement of Criminal Procedure Codes, it must be emphasized that the countries which have sent these workers, under the protection of their governments, should take precedence over Saudi Laws.
Citizens of other countries cannot be victims of such barbaric laws of the Saudi Regime. These laws are nothing but 8th Century Arab tribal customs which have been infused with the word “Shari’ah” to make it sound legitimate and religious.
Islam or whatever the religion, has nothing to do with these barbaric customs of the despotic Saudis. These barbaric laws were designed by the Saudi Regime to meet the barbaric, savage and wild demeanour and deportment of the people of their own country and it has nothing to do with those who are being employed by and in that country.
It is imperative, therefore, that every country that sends their people to work in that country must, first, ratify an extradition treaty with that country especially in respect of those employed in Saudi Arabia; and any serious crimes by those employed must be subject to this treaty for extradition of the individual to the country of origin of the worker to be tried according to the laws of that country.
The whole world is aware of the hundreds of Saudi Citizens who have committed crimes in foreign lands being extradited and/or repatriated to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia cannot meet the desperate demands of the necessary workforce for their sustainability and economy and hence they “import” people to do their ”dirty” work for their own benefit. My question is “Why should these skilled, sem-skilled and unskilled people with various disciplines and vocations, advertised and sanctioned by the Saudi Regime, and who have actually gone there to fill the absolutely essential vacancies, demands and needs of various occupations in Saudi Arabia, which the majority of the Saudis are incapable of, be subject to any form of Saudi Laws of barbarism?”
This arrogance of the Saudi Regime had gone on unabated and unquestioned for too long a time. Don’t you think that it is high time that the representatives bent on achieving justice to all nations – vis-à-vis – The United Nations and all their members, step in at global level and every individual government of every country take action at national level, enforce the most urgent and essential action to eradicate this menace and threat to the expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia?
- Asian Tribune -