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Fear grips inmates as COVID-19 spreads in overcrowded prisons

Nov 21 (CT) On seeing the congestion in SL prisons and the imminent threat of COVID-19 spread to inmates and prison officials, 10 months ago, in March, Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) wrote to the Govt to take stern measures to curb the spread of the virus in prisons. Today, there is a prison cluster that originated at Welikada Prison through an apparent contact of asymptomatic Borella Police more..

Honouring Rajapaksa: An open letter to the UN resident coordinator

Nov 21 (CT) We write to you as Human Rights activists, victims and concerned Tamils, to express our concerns about your conduct as the UN Resident Coordinator in your engagement with the SL Govt in apparent disregard to the deteriorating human rights situation in SL. On 23rd Oct 2020, the UL in Sri Lanka held a special virtual event to commemorate the world body’s 75th birthday. Sadly, it was a slap in the face for many of the country’s victims of human rights abuses & war crimes. more..

A populist budget risking higher debt

Nov 21 (CT) The maiden budget of the new regime, as a demonstration of Prez Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour, was read out by the two-in-one PM cum Minister of Finance (PM-MoF) without much fanfare. No doubt, it was a budget presented at a very challenging time, and, in tune with the govt’s populist mindset, it promised many things to many people in the name of development. As expected, it is a deficit budget and that deficit would have been higher more..

Surviving the Trauma of a Pandemic

Nov 21 (CT) In a recent survey conducted by the WHO it revealed that COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing. “WHO has previously highlighted the chronic underfunding of mental health: prior to the pandemic, countries were spending less than 2% of their national health budgets on mental health, more..

Taking responsibility during an hour of need

Nov 21 (DM) We’re in the thick of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the call is for all citizens to act responsibly. This is a bit hard to demand from a country known for indiscipline. In fact the regime now blames it on the people and the media for the pandemic moving to the second stage. In the thick of things and the uncertainty that prevails the country is blessed to have a president who underscores the need to act responsibly eternally. Wednesday (18) marked one year in office more..

Back to history to spread harmony

Nov 21 (ST) Youth ambassador Aamina Muhsin’s short video presentations look at the important role Muslims have played from the time of our ancient kings. Transporting viewers back to a time seldom discussed, Aamina Muhsin’s series of YouTube videos titled History of the Muslims of SL recounts the tales and contributions made by SL Muslims towards the country. Determined to do her part to promote harmony and heal fragmented relations between communities, Aamina adopts more..

Opposition urges government to get the vaccines for Covid to Sri Lanka

Nov 20 (EN) Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa is urging the govt to take steps to obtain newly developed COVID-19 vaccines invented by organisations such as Pfizer and Moderna for Sri Lankans. He said the budget appears to have ignored the COVID-19 pandemic and added that the budget should have given more prominence to the measures needed to control and prevent the spread of the virus. more..

No budget allocation to facilitate Covid vaccine: SF

Nov 20 (DM) The Govt had not made any allocations in the budget for the vaccine for COVID-19 which was scheduled to be released shortly by the WHO, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament. He said the US had already made arrangements to use the vaccine in USA as and when it is available. “The USA has appointed a team headed by an Army General to prepare for the situation to administer the vaccine. They have even assigned helicopters and institutions to distribute the vaccine. more..

STF recovers 100kg of heroin from Weligama

Nov 20 (AD) The Police Special Task Force (STF) has recovered 100kg of heroin from Weligama area in Matara. Three suspects and a vehicle used by them have also been taken into custody by the investigating officers, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said. The heroin consignment, which was seized after a days-long operation, will be handed over to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). more..

RAT no alternative to PCR test: GMOA

Nov 20 (CT) GMOA urged health authorities to adhere to guidelines issued by the Director General Health Services (DGHS) on the use of the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and refrain from using it as an alternative for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. Executive Committee Member of GMOA, Dr Harith Aluthge said that according to guidelines This test could not replace the PCR but could be used as a supplementary test. more..

Replanting Kallaru Forest: Won’t hand over task to Bathiudeen: Amaraweera

Nov 20 (CT) The Govt will not hand over the task of replanting the destroyed Kallaru Forest in Wilpattu to MP Rishad Bathiudeen as it will be done by them, claimed Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera. He said they were keeping an eye on the Court ruling against Bathiudeen in connection with the destruction of nearly 2,500 acres of the Kallaru Forest in the Wilpattu Sanctuary. These comments were made by the Minister at a media briefing held at the Ministry recently. more..

SriLankan Airlines loses Rs 36.3bn up to Aug 2020

Nov 20 (EN) SriLankan Airlines has lost 36.38 billion rupees up to Aug 2020, amid a Coronavirus crises that hit all carriers, against 44.02 billion rupees in the year to March. SriLankan Airlines has lost 284 billion rupees since Emirates Airlines was removed as managing partner and the carrier was re-nationalized. Airline last made a profit in 2008 of 4,899 million rupees. The airline had been mired in procurement scandals and a former CEO was arrested after a UK bribery inquiry revelation. more..

Ramal, the boy who found an opportunity in adversity

Nov 20 (DM) Ramal Sahabandu is a child with Cerebral Palsy (CP), in other words, Ramal is a child with limitations and special needs. He is unable to speak and write, according to his father. Despite these limitations, however, Ramal obtained 99 marks in the recently held scholarship exam, renewing hopes of many parents whose children experience limitations, similar to Ramal. CP is not a single disease but a group of neurological more..

Sri Lanka Lists being blacklisted by Int’l Community: Mangala

Nov 20 (CT) The only silver lining in Budget 2021 is that it has paved the way for black money to enter the country, former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera alleged. He alleged that black money entering into the country has been encouraged when taking into account Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s budget statement, where the latter had allegedly said that those who bring in black money to the country would be taxed at 1% only, former Finance Minister said. more..

Defence Secretary completes his first year in office today

Nov 20 (MoD) Defence Secretary Major Gen (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne completes his first year in office today after assuming office as the Defence Secretary on Nov 20, 2019. Prez Rajapaksa, who was the former Defence Secretary, appointed Maj. Gen. Gunaratne to the post of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, the supreme portfolio of the country’s defence, in trust of his ability, courage, commitment, sheer professionalism and the working calibre in any of the capacities shouldering more..

Entirety of public servants can now serve without fear: Weeratunga

Nov 20 (CT) Former Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, who was acquitted and ordered to be released from the controversial sil cloth case, by the Court of Appeal, described the verdict as historic for the country’s State sector. Speaking to the Media soon after the announcement of the verdict, he said it would be a landmark judgment for those engaged in the State sector, as they would be able to perform their duty more..

SL Embassy in Moscow advises Sri Lankans not to fall victim to human trafficking

Nov 20 (SM) The Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow has advised Sri Lankans not to fall victim to human trafficking. In a media release, the embassy notes that Russian authorities had apprehended 27 Sri Lankans this year and 17 of them had been already deported to Sri Lanka after completing their jail terms. Ten persons are still in the detention centres in various cities as their legal process continues, the media briefing adds. The complaints received by the Sri Lanka Mission in Moscow from more..

Appeals Court quashes charges in murder case against Minister Janaka Bandara

Nov 20 (AD) An indictment filed by the Attorney General against Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon over a murder that took place in 1999 has been revoked by the Court of Appeal. The verdict was delivered by the President of Appeals Court, Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Sobitha Rajakaruna today. In a writ application, Minister Tennakoon had sought the Appeals Court to quash the indictment filed by the AG against him. He stated that Govt of Good Governance had filed more..

Special operation to weed out fake beggars

Nov 20 (CT) A special operation was initiated yesterday, in the City of Colombo and suburbs to arrest suspects who were masquerading as beggars. The Police have identified various individuals dressed as beggars and begging at signal lights and junctions in the Colombo area. Police said these persons were engaging in nefarious activities while masquerading as beggars. DIG Ajith Rohana said these individuals more..

Covid-19: Sri Lanka tops 19,000 infections

Nov 20 (AD) With another surge in Covid-19 figures seen this evening (20), total infections confirmed in Sri Lanka exceeded the grim milestone of 19,000. Dept of Govt Information confirmed that 220 more individuals linked to the Minuwangoda-Peliyagoda cluster were tested positive for the virus. Following the new development, total infections registered by the dual cluster have reached 15,550. SL has recorded 19,061 infections to date, since the first positive case was reported in March this year. more..

Minister Tennakoon slams opposition for calling govt a failure

Nov 20 (Island) Minister Janaka Bandara Tennkoon has slammed the Opposition for what he called despicable attempts to portray the incumbent govt as a failed administration. Recalling the crises caused by the previous yahapalana administration as a result of mismanagement, waste, corruption and irregularities, Minister Tennakoon said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa- led administration had to face the daunting coronavirus challenge against the backdrop of a weak economy. more..

Video: Coronavirus infections among police officers over 800

Nov 20 (AD) Total Covid-19 infections detected among police officers have climbed to 839. 204 of them are STF officers. Six police officers were tested positive for the novel coronavirus yesterday. As the uptick in police Covid-19 cases continues, nearly 500 officers have been referred to PCR tests today. Meanwhile, the total number of Covid-19 infections reported from prisons reached 534, after two more inmates at more..

Bond scam case stalled due to Mahendran’s absence: Justice Minister

Nov 20 (FT) Justice Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament that legal proceedings into the bond scam were stalled as former CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran had left the country. “Legal proceedings have started in the special High Court the last Govt set up but the case can’t proceed as summons can’t be served on Arjun Mahendran who has fled the country,” Sabry said in response to a query from SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella. He said Govt had promised to punish those involved in the bond scam more..

AA hands over proposals to improve road safety

Nov 20 (Island) Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) handed over a set of proposals meant to improve road safety to Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge early this week. AAC President Dhammika Attygalle, Vice President Ananda Dangalle, and Secretary Devapriya Hettiarachchi, represented the Automobile Association at the meeting. Monte Ranatunga, Secretary to Minister of Transport, Dr Gamage of Transport Board, and Lasitha Gunaratne were also present. more..

Bakeer Markar alleges police are to arrest 200 critical journalists

Nov 20 (EN) Opposition SJB MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar is accusing the govt of targeting media-persons critical of the govt and told Parliament today that the police have been given a list of these critics who will be arrested. Bakeer Markar, a former Media Minister said “I have information that a list of 200 media persons has been given to the police who are to be prosecuted. The arrests have already started.” more..

Fmr Chairman of Ceylon Fertilizer Company arrested over financial fraud

Nov 20 (DM) Former Chairman of the Ceylon Fertilizer Company Ltd has been arrested by the CID over an alleged financial irregularity of Rs. 90 million. Police said the CID had commenced an investigation into a complaint lodged with the CID on Jan 14, 2020 regarding a financial irregularity of Rs. 90 million during the purchase of liquid fertilizer from a private company for Ceylon Fertilizer Limited. The suspect who was the chairman of the Ceylon Fertilizer Company from 2017 to 2019 more..

AG contemplates action against Pujith, Hemasiri

Nov 20 (DN) Attorney General Dappula De Livera will take further legal action against former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando for failing to take measures to prevent a terrorist attack on Easter Sunday in 2019 despite receiving intelligence information. AG yesterday made a written request to the Chairman of the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks to provide him statements and testimonies of certain witnesses recorded by the Commission, more..

Labour Minister explains difficulties in bringing back Lankan migrant workers

Nov 20 (Island) The govt could not dispatch 10 or more aircraft and bring home Lankan migrant workers stranded overseas though it was desirous of doing so because it had to follow int'l procedures, Labour Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva told Parliament. He said that flights and their crew members were required to abide by various laws, regulations & quarantine processes each airport had put in place in view of prevailing pandemic. more..

Careful monitoring before lifting: Army Chief

Nov 20 (CT) The final decision on areas under isolation will be taken over the weekend, after reviewing the situation, the Head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak, Lt Gen Shavendra Silva said. “Our aim is to assess the COVID-19 threat within these areas and lift isolation restrictions in the event the situation has been completely controlled,” Lt. General Silva said yesterday. Taking the Colombo Municipal Council area as an example, he said more..

Covid-19 recoveries surpass 13,000 mark

Nov 20 (AD) The Ministry of Health says 368 more individuals, who were previously diagnosed with Covid-19, have made complete recoveries. The new development brings the total number of novel coronavirus recoveries reported in the country to 13,271. Sri Lanka’s confirmed infections count meanwhile stands at 18,841. The Epidemiology Unit says 5,497 of them are still under medical care. According to the situation report, the following hospitals have reported the latest recoveries: more..

Video: Education Minister responds to concerns on reopening schools

Nov 20 (AD) The govt decided to reopen schools after taking into account the recommendations of the health authorities, says Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris. It was announced yesterday that schools, except those in Western Province and locked-down areas, will be reopened for Grades 6 and above from the 23rd of Nov as previously scheduled. Minister’s remarks came during the second reading debate of Budget more..

Video: Colombo Mayor does not want the govt. to fail

Nov 20 (DM) Justifying the request made to the govt to isolate the Colombo Municipal Council area for at least two weeks, Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake said that she does not want the govt to fail due to the corona virus. She said that she also wants the govt to control the situation very successfully. She said that 4,836 people in the Colombo Municipal Council area have been infected with Covid-19 as of yesterday and she pointed out that 229 of them belong to the Colombo Municipal Council. more..

Connecting the dots: The death of a drug trafficker and the state of democracy

Nov 20 (FT) In 2020, according to media reports, five persons were killed in shootouts with the police, one while allegedly trying to flee police custody, two when allegedly trying to wrestle weapons from the police when they were taken to retrieve drugs or weapons, and two men died while in police custody at the police station. The phrase new normal is commonly used to refer to the post-COVID-19 context, but even in this new normal there exists a permanent normal we cannot escape, more..

Eran Wickramaratne, MP

TNA opposes burial of coronavirus victims

Nov 20 (Island) Vanni District TNA MP Selvam Addaikalanathan has declared that the TNA is opposed to the move to bury Muslim covid victims in the Mannar District, under any circumstances. TELO leader Addaikalanathan, issuing a statement on behalf of the TNA said the Tamil community wouldn’t accept burials in predominately Tamil areas. The Vanni lawmaker emphasized that the TNA opposed the burial of corona victims in any part of the country. The TNA issued a statement amidst more..

SL seeking IMF bailout looks inevitable

Nov 20 (FT) The new Govt is in the process of implementing its first full year Budget for 2021 announced on Tuesday. It will be one of the toughest budgets in the country’s history given that Sri Lanka is facing an unknown devil in the form of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and a challenging budget deficit and external debt. The bottom line is if SL cannot increase its foreign exchange revenue at least by an additional $ 4 billion either through exports, remittances & tourism or borrowings, more..