UN unhappy with GoSL's refusal of visas

June 27, 2010 Comments Off on UN unhappy with GoSL's refusal of visas

AFP – S.Lanka to block visits by UN probing war crimes

Sri Lanka will ban visits by the three-member United Nations panel investigating alleged human rights abuses in the final months of the island’s civil war, a senior minister said Thursday.

…”We will not issue them with visas. We will not allow them into this country,” External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told reporters…

AFP – ‘UN war crimes panel chief criticises S.Lanka ban’

The head of a UN panel probing alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war has criticised Colombo’s decision to ban him and colleagues from the country, a report said Friday.

…”Everybody loses out if we cannot go to Sri Lanka, it will make it harder for the truth to be unearthed,” Darusman told the BBC, describing the ban as “most unfortunate”…

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SL trashes EU's demands for human rights

June 27, 2010 Comments Off on SL trashes EU's demands for human rights

AFP – Sri Lanka rejects ‘insulting’ EU trade conditions

Sri Lanka Thursday trashed “insulting” EU demands that it make a written undertaking to improve its human rights record in exchange for trade benefits.

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Colombo also rejected a July 1 deadline issued by the European Union to agree to a host of other conditions to qualify for preferential trade tariffs.

“These conditions are unacceptable. They are an insult to every citizen of this country,” Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo. “We must put the EU demand in the dustbin.”

…The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, has insisted on “significant improvements on the effective implementation of the human rights conventions” for the island to continue enjoying the trade benefits.

The EU trade scheme gives 16 poor nations preferential access to the vast European market in return for following strict commitments on a variety of social and rights issues.

These benefits will be withdrawn on August 15 unless Sri Lanka makes a written commitment by July 1, according to the EU…

Former Australian PM urges current politicians to be more compassionate

June 27, 2010 Comments Off on Former Australian PM urges current politicians to be more compassionate

The Australian – Stop playing politics with refugees, says former prime minister Malcom Fraser

FORMER prime minister Malcolm Fraser has called on our political leaders to stop playing politics with refugees in the interests of building a decent and more compassionate Australia.

Marking the launch of National Refugee Week, Mr Fraser said the “demeaning debate” over refugees must be replaced by a bipartisan immigration policy as an “absolute necessity”.

…”I believe playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people, seeking votes out of their misfortune, is about the worst thing any politician can do in any country in any part of the world,” Mr Fraser said…

New PM Gillard urged to show compassion towards asylum seekers

June 26, 2010 Comments Off on New PM Gillard urged to show compassion towards asylum seekers

TJ bloggers at the rally today said there was between 500-800 people at the rally

SMH – Gillard urged to act on refugee claims

Rights activists have rallied in Sydney urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard to immediately end the freeze on refugee claims for people from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Hundreds of protesters, including Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and author Tom Keneally, gathered in the CBD on Saturday demanding a more humane approach to refugees.

The Refugee Action Coalition says it wants to see an end to offshore processing and the closure of detention centres.

ABC – Gillard urged to act on asylum seekers

A protest in Sydney has called on the Federal Government to act more fairly and justly in dealing with asylum seekers.

Around 150 people rallied at Sydney’s Town Hall today to urge Prime Minister Julia Gillard to close Christmas Island and end mandatory detention of refugees.

Author Thomas Keneally told the protest that a bipartisan approach needs to be reached by the country’s leaders.

“I ask all politicians of goodwill on both sides of the house to commit themselves to this cause,” he said.

“Open our gates to a reasonable degree and advance Australia not with hysteria, not with a snarl, but with fraternity.”

Senate motion on SL war crimes passed in Australian Parliament

June 24, 2010 Comments Off on Senate motion on SL war crimes passed in Australian Parliament

The following motion was proposed by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and passed with support from all major parties in Australian Senate on Thursday 24 June 2010.

That the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) the recent report from the International Crisis Group on War Crimes in Sri Lanka;

(ii) this report recommends, among other things, for the United Nations to conduct an independent international inquiry into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last year of the conflict;

(b) welcomes:

(i) The United Nations Secretary General’s establishment of an Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka;

(ii) The establishment in Sri Lanka of a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, and urges the Sri Lankan Government to ensure the Commission operates in an independent way; and

(c) reaffirms the importance of credible investigations into all allegations of violations of human rights, and

(d) Calls on the Australian Government to support an effective process of national reconciliation, to allow Sri Lanka to move forward after years of conflict.

SL denies visas for UN officials; rejects EU demands

June 24, 2010 Comments Off on SL denies visas for UN officials; rejects EU demands

Reuters – Sri Lanka rules out visas for UN war crimes panel

* UN panel not needed, Sri Lanka says
* Sri Lanka also rejects EU demands
* EU wanted written rights reform pledges

Sri Lanka on Thursday ruled out giving visas to members of a U.N. panel looking into possible war crimes and said it would not accept European Union conditions for extending trade concessions.

Sri Lanka for more than a year has defied Western pressure over accountability for potential war crimes and human rights violations in the last stages of its quarter-century war with the separatist Tamil Tigers, which it won in May 2009.

Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said the government would not issue visas to the U.N. panel, which the world body says is merely there to advise Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on methods of accountability, and is not an investigative body. [ID:nSGE65M05J]

“We will not issue visas to the panel. We don’t think we need them,” Peiris told reporters.

Sri Lanka has its own commission looking into the last seven years of the war, and insists that despite a three-decade history of ineffectual local investigations into rights violations, this one will uncover any wrongdoing.

Rights groups took advantage of the victory anniversary to renew a push for a war crimes probe, saying there was evidence — which they did not make public — that both the government and Tigers were responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

They hope that the U.N. panel will provide a roadmap to a full international inquiry. Sri Lanka denies it ever targeted civilians and says the accusations have been maliciously manipulated or fabricated by Tiger supporters.

NO TO EU DEMANDS

Peiris also said the cabinet had reviewed the EU’s offer to extend access to the Generalised System of Preferences Plus trade scheme, due to be withdrawn on Aug. 15 unless the Indian Ocean nation made a written pledge to certain rights reforms. [ID:nSGE65L06T]

“We were not prepared to obtain these concessions at any cost. That’s not the attitude of a self-respecting government,” Peiris told reporters.

That will cost Sri Lanka about 100 million euros ($123 million) annually, with its biggest trade partner for garments, one of its top foreign exchange earners, and other products.

Among the EU demands were lifting of wartime emergency laws that grant the government wide arrest powers and implementation of a constitutional amendment that would make the police and judiciary independent from presidential influence, Peiris said.

“These are matters in which the judgment must be made by an elected government. These are not matters in which any foreign government can take decisions, he said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government says the Western push for accountability is fuelled by Tamil Tiger supporters in the diaspora and is hypocritical, given Sri Lanka was fighting a group on U.S. and EU terrorism lists.

Washington and Britain, he has said, cannot point an accusing finger over civilian deaths or human rights, given the thousands of civilians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects.

SL whinging and whining again…

June 24, 2010 Comments Off on SL whinging and whining again…

AFP – S.Lanka furious as UN’s Ban names war crimes panel

Sri Lanka is “deeply unhappy” at a move by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to name a panel to look into alleged war crimes committed during the final months of the island’s civil war, an official said Monday.

…”Our troops carried a gun in one hand and a copy of the human rights charter in the other,” the president said. “Our guns were not fired at a single civilian.”

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