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These blog postings do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Advisory Council.

28/02/2013

Thank you!

It's nice to be able to say thank you.

Our first thank you is because, while the Home Office have appealed yesterday's court ruling stating that none of the asylum seekers due to be deported from the UK today can be removed, they have done so too late for the case to be heard in time for them to make their flight. So the asylum seekers will be allowed to remain in the UK for the time being. Meanwhile lawyers have suggested the ruling is precedent setting - and that no asylum seekers will now be able to be removed until the UKBA's guidance case is concluded.

Our second thank you is because our petition has reached 15,000 signatures.

Every single petition signer sent a personalised message direct to Ban ki Moon and to the President of the Human Rights Council. That pressure made this into the issue that wouldn't go away. Now we are moving on to the next stage in our campaign - watch this space for details - but for now we want to pay tribute to the many thousands of volunteers who made this possible.

This is what 15,000 people look like
If printed out the petition would make a pile 60cm high - the height of a Labrador. It would weigh 72kg - this is the maximum weight an army mule can carry, and the weight of a middleweight boxer or a very large mountain lion.
Photo by linznicholson
Signatures came from all around the world - 66 countries were represented in total. Signatures from the UK represented a mere 37% of the total. People within Sri Lanka find it difficult to sign for fear of retaliation - a dynamic which may explain why over 5% of signatures came from people who were using untraceable anonymous browsers - and yet for all that Sri Lanka still came a credible 11th in the list of countries with the most petition signers. The top 11 countries were:
  1. United Kingdom
  2. Australia
  3. Canada
  4. United States
  5. India
  6. Sweden
  7. Malaysia
  8. Japan
  9. France
  10. Singapore
  11. Sri Lanka
This petition wouldn't have been possible without your help. It also wouldn't have been possible without our many generous donors who allow our campaign to function.

To allow us to keep on going please do consider making a donation by clicking here.

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27/02/2013

An update on the deportations

We’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news: Your pressure, and some great lawyers meant that the High Court has stopped the deportation of all asylum seekers on the 4pm flight tomorrow to Sri Lanka.

The bad news: A furious Home Office is going to the Court of Appeals.

What you can do: Sign this petition now and share it widely. http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/48_hours_to_stop_flight_to_hell/ Avaaz will make sure your signatures are delivered to the Home Office first thing tomorrow morning and throughout the day,

In addition if you’d like to write directly to UK Home Secretary, Theresa May’s office please use the talking points below and remember to be polite. The email can be sent to Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
  • The threat of torture faced by Sri Lankan Tamils has increased since the civil war ended because of the policy of complete annihilation followed by the Sri Lankan security forces.
  • The Human Rights Watch report released on Tuesday shows that Tamils forcibly returned are at a high risk of rape, and two of the Tamils in the report were raped after having been deported from the UK
  • The courts are soon to deliver a judgement on the UKBA’s country guidelines on Sri Lanka. This will determine if deportations to Sri Lanka are legal. Nobody should be deported until this judgement is in.

48 hours to stop the flight to hell

Tomorrow 65 Tamil refugees will be deported from the UK back to Sri Lanka. This is despite a report published yesterday which showed that Tamils who are forcibly returned are often raped - and that we know this happened in two cases from the UK.

Please sign this Avaaz petition to Stop the flight. And please read this piece by Frances Harrison on why the deportations should be stopped:

UK Deportation Flight to Include Tamil Women & Men Who Say they were Raped & Sexually Abused

Among a group of about fifty asylum seekers due to be deported from Britain to Sri Lanka on Thursday afternoon is a young woman who’s already been subjected to sexual abuse in custody and has been declared a suicide risk. Doctors who’ve examined the asylum seeker have declared her unfit to travel because of the risk she will try to kill herself again.

The woman, who was a student in Britain, says she was detained on a visit to Sri Lanka in 2011 and taken to a police station in the capital. There she describes being beaten, kicked, striped naked, burnt with cigarette butts several times on her thighs and back and having her head put inside a plastic bag full of chilli powder, before being made to sign a statement in a language she couldn’t understand. She says her interrogators wanted information about members of the Tamil diaspora and her brother who had been a member of the Tamil Tiger rebel group, defeated militarily by the Sri Lankan army in 2009.

Court documents describe this woman as very distressed and tearful, with persistent nightmares. A letter from a forensic specialist confirms she has eight burn marks on her body, which she says were made by the lit cigarettes.

Kulasegaram Geetharthanan of Jein Solicitors, which is representing some of the cases due for return, said among those facing deportation were at least two women and two men who’d been raped as well as another woman who’d suffered sexual abuse.

On Tuesday Human Rights Watch issued a shocking report detailing seventy-five cases of rape in Sri Lanka – mostly by the security forces and significant numbers well after the end of the country’s civil war. Since this data was gathered from among asylum seekers, the likelihood is this only represents the tip of the iceberg since most women are unable to flee the country. Among the cases cited by Human Rights Watch were two Tamils who’d been deported from Britain and then said they’d been subjected to sexual abuse upon return to Sri Lanka.

For more information see The Channel 4 blog & The Independent

Frances Harrison is the author of Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka's Hidden War published by Portobello Books in 2012.

Click here to sign the petition

26/02/2013

Stop the intimidation of Lakshan Dias

Lakshan Dias is a Sri Lankan human rights lawyer. He has been subject to constant threats and intimidation of late and has been followed around by a white van. In Sri Lanka having a white van follow you is traditionally the precursor to being abducted. 

The Observatory is running an urgent appeal to protect him. Please get involved by visiting this webpage.

Below is a press release by the Lawyers' Collective:

----------------------------
26 February 2013

Lawyer's Collective Wants Harassment of Lawyers Immediately Stopped!

Lawyers' Collective has been following the incidents of harassment and threats on lawyers, who actively challenged the unconstitutional impeachment of the 43rd Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. As previously disclosed several lawyers, senior and junior, have come under threats. Series of incidents of surveillance on the lawyers were also reported in Colombo as well as outside.

Mr. Lakshan Dias a well known human rights lawyer and activist who was a leading figure in the anti- impeachment activities has come under strict surveillance making his life vulnerable for physical attacks. He had also been followed by a white van, which incident has been reported to the Moratuwa Police on 25th February 2013, under reference CIB-1- 232/442.

We remind the Government of its constitutional duty to protect and respect the citizen's right to dissent and to engage in critical governance activities. The lawyer's struggle was a discharge of their constitutional duty to protect independence of judiciary, which they will continue to do, despite threats.

The Lawyers' Collective therefore urges the Government to investigate into these incidents and ensure that the Lawyers, who have stood up against the illegal impeachment of the highest judicial officer of the Country, will not be subjected to any further intimidation.

Lawyers Collective

20/02/2013

The four students that were freed hides a bigger story

We have received evidence that over 40 people have been arrested and detained without charge in the last two months.
Photo from "state records NSW" available under Creative Comms licence

It was with great relief that we heard that all the students arrested after November's demonstrations at Jaffna University had been released. While it is shocking that they were held without charge, in two cases for nearly two months, at least they are now back with their families.

We know of at least 40 people who are not so lucky.

While the detention of the Jaffna university students has rightly enjoyed a lot of media attention - attention which may well have helped secure their release - it has hidden a larger story: that such arrests and detention without charge are now commonplace in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Since the protests at Jaffna University we have become aware of at least 40 such arrests and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Around a third have been taken to Boosa detention centre, a handful are known to be on the notorious "4th floor" of the Secretariat Building in Colombo - home to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). In the remaining cases even their close family members have not been told where they are being held. The majority were men in their thirties - many with young families.

We are not able to give more specific information about those arrested for fear of their safety. However a significant proportion of those arrested were picked up in a large police operation in Trincomalee. At the end of January Police (CID) from Colombo visited 176 homes with a list of names. They questioned and photographed people in these homes. Then on the 5th of February they returned and made a number of arrests - figures vary but we have confirmed more than ten.

The rest were all arrested in a number of different locations in December and January. We give the approximate locations below:

Manufactured by the author with Creative Comms content from "Isriya" and "Abu badali"

Some of these stories have made the media but over thirty of the arrests we know about have not  been made public - as far as we are aware. In all the cases it appears those targeted are thought to have been involved with the Tamil Tigers "LTTE" at some time. Often this was indeed the case (although many only worked for the LTTE under duress) but in at least a couple of cases those arrested had no prior connection to the LTTE.

They appear to be held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), the same act that was used against the Jaffna students, and which allows the Government of Sri Lanka to effectively hold them indefinitely without charge. It is part of the campaign of harassment and intimidation which has become a part of everyday life for people in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Its purpose is to keep people fearful and suppressed; while the pattern of crackdowns following celebrations or demonstrations is clearly an attempt to discourage public gatherings.

Only last week the Government of Sri Lanka denied the UN High Commissioner's claims that it was intimidating former members of the LTTE. It also denied it was abusing the PTA. These stories once again demonstrate that this is not the case. Over forty families are waiting to know if, and when, their loved one will come home, and what crime they are supposed to have committed.

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13/02/2013

The Government’s response to the UN High Commissioner’s report

In accordance with the resolution (19/2) passed at last March’s Human Rights Council the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report yesterday. The High Commissioner also published the Government of Sri Lanka’s response to that report.

The response reflects once again the combative and unconstructive attitude which so often characterises the Government in its interactions with UN bodies. It further demonstrates that to be successful, engagement with Sri Lanka must be backed up with firm consequences for non-compliance.

The response further misses the point of the report, and is inaccurate in several key places. Below, we go through the Government of Sri Lanka’s response highlighting these shortcomings:

The Government claims:
1 & 2 The report makes numerous references to the UN Panel of Experts report: this report was not referred to in the HRC resolution and is not an official UN document.
But:

The resolution called for the High Commissioner to – among other things - investigate Sri Lanka’s accountability process. It is only natural that she should therefore refer to the most comprehensive and substantive UN study currently available on that process.

The UN Panel of Experts report was a report prepared at the request of the UN Secretary General – it was given a formal mandate by Ban ki-Moon himself. The Government of Sri Lanka’s continued refusal to accept the report as valid is not only churlish but is an insult to the internationally renowned experts on transitional justice (the majority from the global south) who compiled it.

The Government claims:
3 &4 The report fails to make mention of a meeting that took place: and mentions various formal responses once when they could have been mentioned in two separate contexts.
But:

The report is not intended to be an exhaustive list of meetings. This section of the report is intended to detail the technical assistance offered by the High Commissioner and the Government of Sri Lanka’s response – which has been overwhelmingly negative.

The Government claims:
5 fears around the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) are unfounded: PTA detainees are just held by the army for a little while and then passed on to the police
But:

The students arrested at the Jaffna University demonstration have just been released having been held for 2 months under PTA powers despite having committed no crime. More than 1,900 people already arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) remain in custody pending investigations, according to the last relevant official statements from May 2010.

The Government claims:
6-8 there are no extrajudicial killings in Sri Lanka: and there is no evidence that the Channel 4 footage of executions is genuine
But:

This footage has been authenticated by numerous independent experts including the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Christof Heyns.

The Government claims:
9 excessive force was not used in putting down the Vavuniya prison riot.
But:

29 people died in that riot.

The Government claims:
10-20 concerns about disappearances in Sri Lanka are unfounded.
But:

We are still seeing a disappearance every five days according to the latest research and Sri Lanka has more outstanding cases before the UN Working Group on Disappearances than any country except Iraq. The working group has been asking to visit for over six years and Sri Lanka still won’t let them in.

The Government claims:
21-28 concerns about detention in Sri Lanka are unfounded: there are no secret prisons, there is a comprehensive database of the detained, the rehabilitation process is completely transparent, and released rehabilitated Tamil Tiger (LTTE) fighters don’t have to register with the army.
But:

This simply isn’t true.
  • The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) is one of many bodies to have expressed concern about secret prisons operating in Sri Lanka. 
  • No outside source has seen the database of the detained and families of the missing still struggle to find out if, and where, their loved ones are detained. 
  • The rehabilitation centres were closed to all outsiders – even the Red Cross (ICRC) for many years and are still off-limits to journalists. Allegations of rape and torture within these centres abound. 
  • And numerous sources inside and outside Sri Lanka to the fact that released “rehabilitated” Tamil Tiger (LTTE) fighters do have to register with the army
The Government claims:
29-30 internally displaced people in the north are well looked after
But:

The report clearly states that the Government’s efforts in this regard (which they list again in their response) have not been enough – and that significant needs remain unmet for the 94,000 that remain displaced. The response ignores the point of the report’s observation.

The Government claims:
31-37 concerns of increased militarisation in Sri Lanka are unfounded: the military plays no role in the civil administration of the north, the military is not involved in economic activity, and the claim that Tamil women are subjected to stigma following contact with the military is without basis.
But:

These are barefaced lies.

The military is much larger now than it has been at any time in its history – and far larger than it was when the war ended. Since the end of the war defence spending has risen by 29.8% and is due to rise a further 26% this year.

The military is deeply involved in the civil administration of the north as this report, and an International Crisis Group study (Sri Lanka’s North I: The Denial of Minority Rights Asia Report N°219) show. Even birthday parties in the north need the military’s approval to proceed.

The Ministry of Defence’s own website lists the many different economic projects the military is involved in. These include running a 180 acre farm near Jaffna and multiple forays into the tourist industry. The military owns many hotels, resorts and attractions including the entire “Laya” group.

The view that Tamil women are not subjected to stigma following contact with the military cannot be honestly held by anybody who has spent time in the north of Sri Lanka.

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12/02/2013

The rise of military-run tourism in Sri Lanka

Deep in the jungle of the northern Mullaitivu district, south of the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu, lies the former LTTE operations hub, now a ghost town. Visitors are offered a guided tour of the hub which comprises of a 3 story underground bunker, a firing range, a film hall, a semi-underground garage and a funeral parlour.

What is absent are details of the suffering faced by the Tamils who lived in constant fear of the LTTE, and then persecution by the Sri Lankan army, and of the aftermath of 30 years of civil war that has destroyed the social and economic infrastructure of the region. Visitors, who are predominantly Sinhalese, seem content to marvel at war relics rather than truly comprehend the devastating events that took place here.

Offensive triumphalist memorials celebrating the government’s ‘triumph over terrorism’ now litter the northern provinces, such as this one in Pudumathalan marking the spot where LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s body was found. The explicitly Sinhalese and martial imagery is the exact opposite of the conciliatory, inclusive approach which is needed if true reconcilliation is to take place.

Good insight into the manner in which government triumphalism is being swallowed by many in Sri Lanka is provided by this report on a trip to Delft Island and Mullaitivu in February 2012 from ladkasun.org – a Sri Lankan tourism website.

There is much photographic evidence of this ‘Sinhalisation’: a phenomenon which we have discussed previously.

Beaches around the island have been commandeered by the government, which is forcing people off their land and denying them access to the beaches. The Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority has introduced 45 tourism zones, mainly in the Northern and Eastern parts of the island. There are serious concerns around how these zones will effect local residents, and the evidence thus far is not good.

Meanwhile since the end of the war, the military has taken an active role in the economy of the North and East by positioning various checkpoints to control transportation, annexing civilian land and establishing High Security Zone restrictions. Heavy restrictions have been placed on the work of fishermen.

The Navy runs a lucrative boat service for tourists to Mannar:
And a hotel in Jaffna:

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our Ethical tourism campaign has uncovered at least 18 examples of tourist attractions, hotels, or even entire resorts that are run by the Sri Lankan military. 

It is perhaps not surprising that the military want to cash in on Sri Lanka's tourism boom. As the graph below shows, buisiness is booming as new travellers flock to Sri Lanka following the end of the war. But with the armed forces taking on a larger and larger role in Sri Lankan life, it is vitally important that tourists make good choices, and do not contribute to the problem.


The Government of Sri Lanka is certainly working hard to make the most of the boom. This interactive map gives the Tourism Development Authority’s official account of Sri Lanka’s tourist attractions and current development projects.

There has also been much promotion at various international travel fairs. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) recently participated in an international travel fair in Chengdu, Western China. The Tourism Board plans to take part in another six international travel fairs in China alone and has held successful tourism campaigns in India, Russia and Kazakhstan. 

And all this new tourism means more money coming in to the coffers of the Sri Lankan Government - a significant portion of which then goes to its defense budget as Sri Lanka continues to expand its already vast military. Despite accusations by the international community of war crimes being committed on both sides of the civil war, Western and Indian tourists remain undeterred from making Sri Lanka their holiday destination. Perhaps some have thought through the implications and think it is still important to come, to benefit the local economy, to see the situation for themselves and help combat the Government of Sri Lanka's attempts to isolate its own people, particularly its Tamil people. But too many people make the decision to come to Sri Lanka without thinking through the potential consequences, and without doing the research necessary to ensure that the benefit to the military is minimised

We have added fresh information to our campaign aimed at promoting ethical tourism in Sri Lanka. Check it out, and please send it to anyone you know who is thinking of going.

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07/02/2013

Jaffna University Students still behind bars

Over two months on from the disturbance at Jaffna University we understand two of the students arrested are still in detention. And so we thought now would be a good time to re-tell the story, and ask for your help securing their release.

Over three and a half years since the conclusion of the Sri Lankan Civil War, civilians in Northern Sri Lanka continue to face stringent restrictions on their right to freely assemble, express opinions and practice religion.

On 27th November 2012, students from the University of Jaffna were once again prevented from undertaking the annual observance of “Martyrs/Heroes Day” (or, Maaveerar Naal) – a remembrance event first initiated by the Tamil Tigers. This coincided with the appearance of “well-produced pro-Tiger posters” “in various parts of the formerly Tiger-held territory”.

Military forces proceeded to storm the University of Jaffna’s male and female student hostels in order to prevent any commemorations - typically observed with the lighting of oil lamps - from taking place  Commemorations were interrupted in the female hostel and lamps were extinguished. Intimidation of female students “by putting guns to their head, threatening to shoot” is also reported to have taken place, resulting in some students fainting out of fear and shock.

Moreover, whilst attempting to cover the raids by taking photographs, the editor of the local Uthayan newspaper was assaulted by a senior policeman in civilian dress. The assault was only stopped following the intervention of a local MP.

On the 28th November 2012, students from the University of Jaffna responded with a silent protest within the University grounds before attempting to leave for a short protest march whilst holding placards condemning the restrictions placed on their freedom of expression. The planned route would have taken them outside the university grounds, approximately 100 meters along the main road before re-entering the university at another entrance.

However, on attempting leave the university grounds, the unarmed students were baton charged by the Riot Police Unit. Reports from both Sri Lankan and International media seem to indicate that some students were beaten. Whilst the military maintain that it had acted to restrain stone-throwing youths, university staff contest that the security forces initiated the violence by baton charging the students and only after that were stones thrown.

At least 20 students were injured and required hospital treatment.

On 1st December, four students were arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and taken to Vavuniya, before being transferred to the Welikanda military camp, which became notorious for torture following the conclusion of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009. The camp currently holds around 600 ex-LTTE cadres; and it is feared that the students will suffer mistreatment, or torture in the course of their interrogation.

Moreover, reports also indicate that the practice of religion was also curtailed. In 2012, the Hindu religious holiday celebrating the festival of lights (Karthikai Deepam) also fell on the 27th November and is celebrated with the lighting of oil lamps. Despite publicized assurances from the Deputy Inspector General for Jaffna, that the Hindu religious festival could be celebrated with the lighting of oil lamps and religious activities could occur without interference, reports indicate the opposite occurred. Not only were oil lamps lit by locals of Jaffna extinguished, reports indicate the interference & curtailing of religious services by the security forces in smaller towns surrounding Jaffna, and further a field in Kilinochchi & Mannar with Christian Mass services also being subject to interference.

Such is the concern for the welfare of the four arrested students and more generally of the prevailing human rights situation in Sri Lanka, Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action notice calling on its members to send appeals to the relevant authorities including the Inspector General of Police, Defence Secretary and the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission.

The four students in question were P. Tharshananth (Secretary of the Jaffna University Students' Union) Sanmugam Solaman (a Science Faculty Student Union member) Kanesamoorthy Sutharsan (a medical student), and K. Jenemajeyamenan (President of the Arts Faculty Student Union).

Two students were subsequently released, but there is little clarity as to what is to happen to the remaining two students in detention - who have now been held by the military for months without charge.

Please click here for more details of the Amnesty appeal and take action TODAY!

06/02/2013

Photos from Sri Lanka's killing fields

Frances Harrison recently wrote for the Times of India about how the Government of Sri Lanka is turning the site of the final battles of the civil war, where tens of thousands of civillians were killed, into a tourist attraction. The article unfortunately did not include the many pictures provided which evidenced the piece, and so we are presenting them here. These photos show both the triumpahalism with which the Government of Sri Lanka is presenting these sites, and also the evidence of war crimes that is now turning up due to heavy rain. All words and pictures that follow are from Frances Harrison.
Local people who've recently travelled into Sri Lanka's killing fields, where an estimated 40,000 people perished in 2009, say skulls and human bones have risen to the surface after this year's flooding and abandoned belongings are strewn all over the landscape
"It is a horrible scene," said one visitor, "there are still bunkers visible with saris, kid's clothing and suitcases left open under the bushes; you can't imagine what it must have been like for those people to have been crammed into that tiny place so close together.
Mullivaikkal is the coastal village where the Tamil Tigers made their last stand in May 2009, along with more than 150,000 starving terrified Tamil civilians. It's synonymous with the worst suffering and slaughter of the decades long conflict - the Srebrenica of Sri Lanka. It's here that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed, according to UN experts.
Visitors say most houses or huts along the coast are still without roofs - those that rebuilt them did so by borrowing or receiving money from relatives abroad.
For the last three and a half years, Mullivaikkal has been off limits - strictly controlled by the Sri Lankan military. Even today locals say there are large numbers of police and army personnel who operate in pairs on motorbikes stopping anyone straying from the main roads. Visitors say local residents are terrified to talk about politics to outsiders.
The photographs show the last belongings of people who may well be dead now. By the time they reached this sandy spit of exposed land, some had already been displaced 40 times in five months. They'd shed almost everything they owned and expected to die.
Some local families have been reduced to scavenging for scrap metal - often cooking pots or gold that people buried during the final phase of the war in the hope that they'd live to come back to reclaim their property.
Sri Lanka's war zone area has partially opened up so survivors can return home, but also to enable a macabre tourist trail the military have set up primarily for people from the majority Sinhala community to see where their defeated enemy lived.
For decades these northern parts of the country under rebel administration were largely off limits to people in the south. Now busloads of Sri Lankan tourists are coming to see the rebel leader's house and his underground bunker, swimming pool and shooting range. All the exhibits are neatly labeled - 'terrorist swimming pool' for example - and in the rebels' erstwhile capital there's even a souvenir shop next to the destroyed landmark of the water tower.
Next to each of these sites, there is a cafe where visitors can enjoy a cup of tea prepared by a Sri Lankan soldier. In the official history there's no word of the tens of thousands of civilians who died here - the majority as a result of a brutal government offensive that involved deliberately and repeatedly attacking hospitals, safe zones and food queues. And yet this is an area where almost every Tamil family lost someone in the 2009 war.
 
 
 
 
More pictures are available via Frances Harrison's Jux visualisation.

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04/02/2013

Government of Sri Lanka appoint spin-doctor as new Chief Justice

The unconstitutional impeachment of Sri Lanka's Chief Justice has been condemned by many people, including Sri Lanka's own Supreme Court,  and 54 senior court judges from 26 countries around the world.

The Government of Sri Lanka has appointed, as the new Chief Justice, Mohan Peiris. Mohan Peiris is a professional apologist for the President of Sri Lanka, having previously attended the Human Rights Council in Geneva on multiple occasions to defend the Government's conduct. He has served as legal advisor to the President of Sri Lanka and Attorney General. Clearly his appointment as Chief Justice makes a mockery of the idea of seperation of powers.

As we have reported, Mohan Peiris has also been forced to admit that he misled the UN: telling the UN's Committee Against Torture that a missing journalist was not missing at all - and that he knew where he was - and then admitting to a Sri Lankan Court that this was completely untrue.

We have released a joint statement with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, comdemning the appointment of Mohan Peiris and demanding decisive action from the Commonwealth. As we say in the statement:
"The choice of a close government aide, with a record of protecting the government from grave allegations of human rights violations, as the new Chief Justice, puts into question the ability of the judiciary to be independent. 
"We call upon the Secretary-General to go beyond the mere expression of “deep disappointment” and recognise the continuing deterioration of democracy, human rights and rule of law in its totality. We urge the Secretary-General to initiate the process by which Sri Lanka would be brought on to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s formal agenda for its serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values.  
"We further call upon CMAG member states to urgently consider the situation in the country before Commonwealth Day (11 March 2013), when formal announcements are expected on preparations for the Commonwealth summit (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka."
 

As we've previously stated, heads of Government should not legitimise the President of Sri Lanka's total lack of respect for his own people by attending the Commonwealth summit this November, unless the situation dramatically improves.

Read the full statement here.

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