23 September, 2018

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Sri Lanka’s Only Solid Boast Before UNHRC 2018 – The RTI!

The only concrete action that the Government of Sri Lanka relied on during its statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its 37th session yesterday (21st March 2018) in Geneva was that Sri Lanka’s globally praised Right to Information Act was in full implementation mode and that the Right to Information Commission was functioning effectively and ‘disposing of a large number of appeals’! 

Marapana

Reading out the Statement, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana otherwise, only pointed to a long list of “promises”, hopeful assurances that the recently established Office of Missing Persons will “discharge its mandate effectively.” 

Minister Marapana also repeated that Legislation to give effect to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was passed by the Parliament on 7 March. Activists currently participating in the Geneva sessions have however pointed out that the Act on Enforced Disappearances had been severely diluted and have raised questions as to how effective it will be in its current form in actually acting as a practical deterrent.

Unlike the  Enforced Disappearances Act, the Right to Information Act was not toned down mainly because powerful lobbying bodies such as the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka informed the Government that it would not agree to any compromises in that respect.  Facing combined English, Sinhala and Tamil media pressure, the Government backed down and allowed a strong law to be passed in 2016. It however deprived the RTI Commission of independent funding during its first year in office, leaving the Commission to its own efforts and to virtually ‘sink or swim.’

‘The Government boasts of the Commission now but this succeeded only because Commission members worked with no funds during the first make-or-break year of its functioning.’ said a consultant working with the Foreign Affairs Ministry on its Geneva performance who did not wish to be identified. ‘Impartial Commissioners were not brought in by the Government but were nominated by independent groups including the media and civil society. But proving the effectiveness of the OMP which has a Chair who is the President’s lawyer and was ‘parachuted’ over the head of the Constitutional Council will be a different problem’ he criticized.

Minister Marapana also informed the Council that the Prevention of Terrorism Act is proposed to be repealed and replaced with a counter-terrorism law that conforms to human rights safeguards and other international standards. ‘In terms of our Constitution and legal processes, this legislation will be finalized after due parliamentary procedures are followed.’ he said.

However the draft counter-terrorism law has not yet been provided to the Sri Lankan public despite several calls by activists to make its contents known.   

        

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Latest comments

  • 2
    7

    There was no civilian casualties in the humanitarian operation by the brave srilankan forces. It is better to tell UNHRC go fly a kite at Nandikadal.

    • 4
      0

      You mean there were no civilians lived in the North East? For Sinhalese forces(LION), they only east animal flesh and blood.

      • 0
        0

        He is correct to say that no humans were killed, because he is going by Mahawamsa which says that Tamils are not humans but animals.

    • 2
      0

      Robert Wanasundera

      Come on there should be a limit to your sarcasm.

      The Sinhala/Buddhist fascists have been relishing every minute of slaughtering of Demelas.

      Don’t take it away from the smart ass super patriots.

    • 1
      0

      Robert Wanasundera ~ “…….It is better to tell UNHRC go fly a kite at Nandikadal”.
      Will flying a kite really help UNHRC?

    • 0
      0

      These kind of “sundara” talks have a limit. You can fool all the people some of the time but some of the people all the time. The latter is correct of the village Sinhala mentality. Yes our “brave” military is so discipline and patriotic to our nation. This may be why our military that was called for peace keeping and humanitarian operations in Haiti were involved in PIMPING, having prostitutes in barracks, involved in adultery and even a few cases of reported pedophilia. Yes we certainly can fly kites if we are nation could PISS STRAIGHT. Without UN and foreign aid, Mid East remittances, World Bank and IMF loans, foreign investment and hand-outs, our nation would go broke in a heart beat. May be your kite might come handy when we sink in “kadal” (debt). Typical mentality of the Sinhala modaya. Aney palla harrako yanna!

  • 0
    4

    I feel the the Tamil sadness. Their mothr land is casteist, their homeland is tribalist.

    • 3
      0

      Jim softy dimwit

      “I feel the the Tamil sadness. “

      Since when?
      You only feel other three emotions, fear from your paranoia, anger from your inability to deal with your paranoia, and happiness from beating, killing …. Demelas and Thambiyahs,

  • 0
    3

    Tamils failed and they now are suffering, Paw da.

  • 0
    0

    Chairman and another person of OMP were selected and appointed by the President. They were not in the list of persons submitted by the constitutional council. When President acts in breach of OMP Act, how could we expect justice from this govt and OMP. Furthermore OMP’s life could come to a sudden end if and when govt stops funding.

    President promised to release the list of persons handed over to the armed forces by the relatives at the final stages of the war and their whereabouts is still not known, but nothing happened so far.

    In October 2015 , according to Sumanthiran, President promised him to release ALL Tamil political prisoners but it turned out to be another breach.

    Promise to release entire land belonging to Tamils but still occupied by armed forces is another farce of the President.

    In short Tamils have no trust on this govt which includes TNA.

  • 0
    0

    How effective RTI turns out to be is important.
    Any noteworthy achievements so far?
    Allowing it to ‘swim or sink’ will be noted.

    • 0
      0

      Mr K. Pillai – check out http://rticommission.lk/

      All important decisions on that…(some also in Sinhala and Tamil) many good decisions directing Gvt authorities to obey. Ashraff report found after 16 years becoz of RTI Commission! President’s banning of websites laid bare! Statistical details of rehabilitated LTTE cadre released! Army and Policy obeying!

      Gvt authorities seems to be complying – up to now.

      Quality of Commrs and public respect for them main thing to ensure good functioning of a Commn as we can see.

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lanka’s Solid Boast is the RTI?
    Are you serious. I made an application for some information from the UDA in September 2017. It was acknowledged but I am still waiting for the information.

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