Nepalese journalists receive training in human rights reporting from UN

10 July 2008The United Nations human rights office in Nepal today completed training for 25 local journalists in reporting on rights issues in the post-conflict country. The training course, which outlined basic human rights information and engaged the journalists in discussions on reporting in this field, was organized by the < a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/WelcomePage.aspx">UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal).“I believe that it has provided them with important information about human rights in this critical period of Nepal’s history and also helped to establish a foundation of knowledge upon which they can build throughout their careers,” Frederick Rawski, Head of OHCHR-Nepal’s Eastern Regional Office, said.The four-day course, carried out with the Federation of Nepali Journalists, focused on human rights and the country’s new Constituent Assembly, which held its first meeting in May after national elections, as well as transitional justice.The 25 participants included 10 women and came from 13 districts in Nepal’s Eastern Region. Previously journalists from the country’s Central Region were trained in March and a third course is planned for the Mid- and Far-West regions in September. read more

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UN tribunal temporarily releases former top Yugoslav official from jail

Nikola Šainović, a former deputy prime minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, has been allowed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, to return to Serbia from today until 17 October to seek medical treatment.Announcing the decision today, the ICTY trial chamber said Mr. Šainović’s temporary release was subject to several strict conditions, including 24-hour surveillance of the accused by Serbian authorities.Mr. Šainovic is on trial with five others – Milan Milutinović, Nebojša Pavković, Dragoljub Ojdanić, Vladimir Lazarević and Sreten Lukić – over an alleged campaign of terror and violence directed against Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs living in Kosovo in 1999. All six men face charges of murder, deportation, forcible transfer and the persecution of thousands of Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs. Mr. Lazarević was also granted provisional release by the ICTY, in his case from today until 27 October, but the decision was stayed after prosecutors filed an appeal. Applications for provisional release by Mr. Pavković and Mr. Lukić were denied.The trial of the six men began in July 2006, and closing arguments in the case concluded on 27 August this year. 2 October 2008The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s has granted temporary release to a former senior Yugoslav government figure facing trial over an alleged campaign of terror and violence against Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs in 1999. read more

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SecretaryGeneral condemns senseless double bombings in Baghdad

The car bombings near the Iraqi Ministry of Justice and the Baghdad Provincial Governorate Building in central Baghdad are the deadliest since the explosions on 19 August that killed around 100 people in the capital.Mr. Ban “strongly condemns these senseless and indiscriminate acts of violence that repeatedly target the innocent and aim to disrupt Iraq’s recovery,” his spokesperson said in a statement.“The Secretary-General urges all Iraqis to unite in the face of these deplorable acts and to work with heightened urgency to protect Iraq’s political progress, including by adhering to the date of 16 January 2010 to hold free and fair national elections,” the statement added. The Security Council also condemned today’s attacks in a statement released to the press by Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Viet Nam, which holds the rotating monthly presidency of the 15-member body for October.Council members reiterated that “no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community.”Last month Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called on the UN to set up an independent international commission to probe deadly bombings and attacks that have struck the country since 2008, including the 19 August blasts. 25 October 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the double bombings which killed and wounded hundreds today in Baghdad, and called on all Iraqis to work to protect the progress the country has achieved so far. read more

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Ban hails Francophone communitys contribution to world peace

26 March 2010Marking the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), a global community of French-speaking people, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) drew similarities between the two organizations’ commitment to peace and dialogue. “For 40 years, your organization has contributed directly to building a better world, a goal we share,” said Mr. Ban in a French-language video message. “It promotes diversity, contacts between people and humanism.” “Our organizations are based on one principle: we are stronger together in all our diversity, and separately,” the Secretary-General said, calling for the need to “continue to promote our common values, those that concern peace, human rights, for 40 years ahead and beyond.”Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, spoke of his love of French.“I am Japanese, as you may know, but for a very long time, I have loved your language,” he said in a speech to mark the day in New York.“I also know that French is a bridge between people of different ethnic groups, native languages, religions, cultures and even different culinary traditions,” Mr. Akasaka added, saying that French occupied a prominent place at the UN. French and English are the UN’s two working languages.“The OIF and the UN have another language in common: the language of peace,” Mr. Akasaka said. “From Canada to the Congo, Viet Nam or Cape Verde, the organization represents a world that values and promotes language and the values and cultures that it brings,” he said, arguing that French “serves as a bridge between countries of a region but also between regions within a country.”Mr. Akasaka said that the day was also an occasion to express solidarity with Haiti, which he said was a beacon of French culture through its literature, its music and its diaspora, following January’s catastrophic earthquake. “A country that has been so imbued with French that it used it to create a sister language, the Creole,” he added. read more

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UN envoy to Lebanon voices support for effort to develop defence strategy

14 April 2010The top United Nations envoy to Lebanon today met with the minister in charge of administrative reform and voiced support for the country’s national dialogue, a reconciliation process, which will meet tomorrow to discuss developing a national defence strategy. Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, also expressed UN support for the reinforcement of Lebanon’s State institutions, during his discussions with the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Mohammad Fneish, in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.“We believe the Ministry of Administrative Reform, which is led by Minister Fneish, has a very important role to play in this regard,” Mr. Williams said.The Special Coordinator yesterday discussed the preparations for the forthcoming municipal elections with the country’s Minister of Social Affairs, Salim Sayegh.He welcomed the decision taken on 9 March as part of the national dialogue in which all political sides agreed to maintain a calm atmosphere during the polls.The four rounds of the 2010 municipal elections are scheduled to be held every Sunday in May starting in Beirut, followed by the Bekaa region, then south Lebanon and finally in north Lebanon, according to media reports. read more

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Human rights defenders in Mexico paying with their lives warn UN experts

12 May 2010Human rights defenders in Mexico are under increasing threat, a group of independent United Nations experts cautioned today, speaking out against the recent killings of two defenders in the country’s southeast. Human rights defenders in Mexico are under increasing threat, a group of independent United Nations experts cautioned today, speaking out against the recent killings of two defenders in the country’s southeast.Rights defender Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo and international observer Tyri Antero Jaakkola, who were on a monitoring mission in Oaxaca, were killed on 27 April when ambushed by paramilitaries. Several others, including journalists, were killed in the attack, and four members of the mission were rescued by the police after being stranded in the forest following the incident.UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, who focuses on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, acknowledged the complexity of the situation in Mexico and the challenges the country’s Government faces in fight against drug cartels.“But there is no justification for failing to take strong steps when human rights defenders, journalists and others are killed,” he emphasized.“Human rights must not be permitted to be a casualty in the fight against drugs and crime.”For his part, Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, voiced concern over the impact of the violence on San Juan Copala, where the recent attack took place, as well as on armed groups and the area’s population, mostly women and children belonging to the Triqui indigenous community.Fellow Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, who focuses on freedom of expression and opinion, urged Mexican authorities to protect the right to life and to guarantee the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). “The role of journalists is crucial in reinforcing human rights as well as the enjoyment of all rights and freedoms of all persons,” he stressed.Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, praised Ms. Cariño, who she met earlier this year at a gathering in Dublin, Ireland, of activists from around the world.Ms. Cariño, the expert said, worked tirelessly to campaign on indigenous, environmental and women’s rights.The four Special Rapporteurs called on the Mexican Government “to take all necessary steps to protect the right to life and security of human rights defenders in the country against any violence and other arbitrary action which may be a consequence of the legitimate exercise of their activities.”They called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the 27April attack, noting that the international community will follow Mexico’s response to such events very closely. read more

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Pakistan needs to invest more in disaster risk reduction says UN official

22 February 2011Pakistan is at risk of increased loss of lives, property and livelihoods in future if it fails to invest in disaster preparedness, the top United Nations official on disaster risk reduction, Margareta Wahlström, said today at the end of a five-day visit to the South Asian country. “Pakistan cannot afford to risk its future and lives of its people by being ill-prepared,” Ms. Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, told reporters in Islamabad. “As Pakistan begins the task of rebuilding, political will is needed to halt the disaster spiral.”Last year’s massive floods that devastated a vast swathe of the country from the north to the south is estimated to have resulted in $8.7-$10.8 billion in damage – approximately one-third of the government’s 2009-2010 budget.Investing $27 million in disaster risk reduction mechanisms can greatly reduce losses from future disasters in Pakistan, according to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.“Now is the time to build up Pakistan’s resilience to disaster. The cost of implementing safeguards pales in comparison to the damage to lives and property,” said Neva Khan, the director in Pakistan of Oxfam, which hosted Ms. Wahlström’s visit.Ms. Wahlström visited a flood-hit community in southern Punjab province, where she saw simple risk mitigation strategies at work, including protecting food stores from floodwater and building housing on raised platforms.She highlighted UN mechanisms to support governments pursuing disaster risk measures, including the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which brings together thousands of disaster risk reduction experts every two years to share experiences and chart the way forward. The Platform’s next meeting is scheduled for 8-13 May in Geneva.She noted that the Government of Pakistan has joined international initiatives to reduce disaster risk. “The immediate need is for commitment from stakeholders. Without it, hard-fought gains will be in danger when the next disaster strikes,” she said.The chairman of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, Nadeem Ahmed, said the real heroes of the country’s recent disasters are the millions of citizens who helped families and communities.“Pakistan urgently needs damage mitigation strategies to lift the burden from their shoulders. Donors and the international community must ensure that resources reach those working on the ground to make disaster risk reduction a reality in Pakistan,” he added. read more

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TSX gains as investors hope Fed will keep money flowing

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was higher Monday as traders hope to get some clarity on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve thinks economic conditions are improving to a point where it can let up on stimulus measures.The S&P/TSX composite index was 90.35 points higher to 12,277.71.The Canadian dollar dipped 0.01 of a cent to 98.33 cents US amid rising crude prices.U.S. indexes were well into positive territory a day ahead of the start of the Fed’s scheduled two-day interest rate meeting.The Dow Jones industrials jumped 168.04 points to 15,238.22, the Nasdaq climbed 33.71 points to 3,457.27 and the S&P 500 was ahead 16.52 points to 1,643.25.Traders were also encouragedf by a solid showing from the latest reading of manufacturing in the U.S. Northeast.The Empire manufacturing index rose more than expected in June, to plus-7.8 from minus-1.4 in the prior month.However, results of the survey were mixed as the new orders and shipments balances components fell further into negative territory. The employment balance also fell.“Overall, the rise in sentiment on the headline balance is encouraging,” said CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham.“But we will need to see firm indicators of orders and shipments improving as well to say that U.S. manufacturing has really turned a corner.”Markets have been volatile since late May when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first mentioned that the central bank would consider cutting back on its US$85 billion of bond purchases each month if economic data — particularly job growth — improved.But the stimulus measures, known as quantitative easing, have been popular as they have kept interest and bond yields low and kept a rally going on stock markets practically non-stop since late last year.The Fed meeting wraps up Wednesday afternoon, followed by a news conference by Bernanke.Speculation on the Fed tapering its bond purchases resulted in a 1.17 per cent slide last week for the Dow industrials while the TSX gave back 1.5 per cent. At the same time, bond yields have been rising, pushing mortgage rates higher.In corporate news, Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (TSX:BAM.A) is selling its Longview forestry assets in the U.S. Pacific Northwest through deals totalling nearly $3.7 billion. Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE:WY) will acquire Brookfield’s Longview Timber for $2.65 billion. KapStone Paper and Packaging (NYSE:KS) will acquire Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging for $1.025 billion from the Toronto-based company. Brookfield shares rose 69 cents to $36.64.All TSX sectors were higher, led by a 1.14 per cent gain in the telecom group. Telecoms and other interest-rate sensitive groups have been punished lately as speculation about cutting back on the QE program has had the effect of pushing U.S. Treasury yields sharply higher.The telecom sector has also been pressured after Ottawa quashed the idea that big telecoms could take over the spectrum of smaller players. Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis said current rules would stand, leading to Telus Corp. (TSX:T) to abandon its plan to buy Mobilicity.On Monday, BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) gained 56 cents to $44.72 while Telus advanced 45 cents to $35.17.The utilities component was ahead 0.8 per cent as TransAlta Corp. (TSX:TA) gained 12 cents to $13.76.Financials also provided lift with Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) up 56 cents to $60.71.Commodity prices were mixed Monday and the energy sector gained one per cent as July crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 35 cents to US$98.20 a barrel. Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) advanced 39 cents to C$29.98.July copper was unchanged at US$3.20 a pound and the base metals sector was ahead 0.8 per cent. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) was ahead 50 cents to C$24.43.August bullion fell $2.40 to US$1,385.20 an ounce and the gold sector climbed 0.6 per cent. Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) rose 14 cents to C$6.06.In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, jumped 2.7 per cent, extending Friday’s 2.4 per cent gain. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.2 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.7 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed.European bourses were higher as London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.63 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 1.34 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 rose 1.59 per cent.Elsewhere on the economic front, Statistics Canada says non-resident investors acquired $14.9 billion of Canadian securities in April, adding both debt and equity securities to their holdings. It says foreign investment in Canadian securities was led by debt instruments, mainly reflecting private corporate bonds and the first acquisition of money market instruments in 2013.Non-residents invested $12.8 billion in Canadian debt securities in April, the largest investment since May 2012. read more

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McDonalds Canada says its jobs website has been hacked info of 95000

TORONTO — McDonald’s Canada says the jobs section of its website has been hacked, compromising the personal information of about 95,000 applicants over the last three years.The company said Friday the accessed information included names, addresses, phone numbers, employment histories and other standard job application information of those who applied online between March 2014 and March 2017.The site doesn’t collect social insurance numbers, banking information or health information, McDonald’s said in a statement.“At this time, we have no information that the information taken has been misused,” the statement said. “We apologize to those impacted by this incident.”It said all applicants directly affected by the privacy breach would be notified by mail, or through other contact information, such as email or phone, if a mailing address wasn’t provided on the application form.McDonald’s also said applicants impacted by the breach could call the company’s dedicated assistance line.McDonald’s said the site was shut down immediately and an investigation was launched when they learned of the breach.“The careers webpage will remain shut down until the investigation is complete and appropriate measures are taken to ensure that this type of security breach does not happen again,” McDonald’s said.The company said privacy commissioners in every jurisdiction have been notified about the security breach.It’s advising anybody interested in applying for a job to do so in person at any McDonald’s Canada restaurant.McDonald’s has more than 1,400 restaurants in Canada and more than 80,000 Canadian employees.The Canadian Press read more

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Ottawa will take necessary action to make sure BC doesnt block Trans

OTTAWA — Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the government will not entertain any attempts by British Columbia to stall or stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.“If that is the goal of any province, we will take the necessary action to ensure that federally approved resource projects proceed.” Carr said Monday.When asked if that includes taking B.C. to court, he said Canada has “all kinds of options” to exert its constitutional authority over interprovincial pipelines.Federal officials, ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been negotiating with Alberta and B.C. for almost two weeks now, ever since B.C. launched a consultation asking its residents whether the province should ban any increase in oil flows through pipelines within the province pending further research on the impact of an oil spill.Such a ban would kill the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was given federal approval in November 2016 and would triple capacity of a line that already runs between Edmonton and Vancouver.B.C. hasn’t yet enacted such a ban, which limits the legal options for Ottawa to fight back.“All British Columbia has tangibly done at this point is signal its intention to consult with the people of its province,” said Carr.‘It’s not just about the pipelines’: Former B.C. premier Christy Clark says blocking Trans Mountain is ’illegal’NP View: Ottawa doesn’t need a new energy regulator. It needs a new spineCan B.C. really stop the Trans Mountain pipeline, and how can the federal government make sure it is built?Ottawa has constitutional jurisdiction over interprovincial infrastructure, such as highways, pipelines and electricity grids. Alberta wants the pipeline, but the B.C. NDP government elected last year campaigned on a promise to use “every tool in the toolbox” to fight it.Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Monday Ottawa has to persuade B.C. to take the threat to limit oil flows off the table.“That is completely unconstitutional, it’s a made-up authority, it’s a made-up law, it’s ridiculous,” she said.“That threat must be removed. We appreciate that the federal government gets the ridiculousness of it as much as we do, but sitting back and letting B.C. threaten it and not doing anything to tell them to pull back the threat and stop walking around being ridiculous, that’s the key objective we’re seeking.”In retaliation for B.C.’s threat to kill the pipeline, Notley cancelled talks to buy B.C. electricity and banned imports of B.C. wine into Alberta. She says the moves have helped get Ottawa’s attention, there are more options Alberta can take and she believes Ottawa is working to find a solution.“They know we’re serious,” Notley said.Shannon Stubbs, federal Conservative natural resources critic, is not as convinced as Notley that Ottawa is doing everything it can to get the pipeline built. She introduced an opposition motion in the House of Commons on Monday calling on the federal government to make public no later than Feb. 15, its specific plan to get the pipeline built.Stubbs said the Liberals keep saying the same thing over and over, that they approved the pipeline and that it will get built, but they are not putting any specifics on the table about how that will happen. She said it’s incumbent on them to decide what those moves are, but said they should include defining “unnecessary delays” and what will be done to get B.C. to remove the threat to ban increased oil flows.Carr called the Conservative motion an attempt to manufacture a crisis and stoke regional tensions.Construction began on the Westridge Marine Terminal where the pipeline ends in Burnaby, B.C. in September 2017, but construction on the pipeline itself is still awaiting final permits and route approvals. Kinder Morgan recently said it expects the operational date for the pipeline is now a year later than expected, in December 2020. Officials have also said they are committed to the $7.4 billion project despite the latest stumbling blocks. read more

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Ban accepts Shavendras appointment

The General Assembly instructed the Secretary-General to establish the senior advisory group, stipulating that its membership should comprise five representatives nominated by the troop-contributing countries, five representatives nominated by the financial contributors, and one representative named by each of the five regional groups. UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has accepted the appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva to the UN Senior Advisory Group (SAG) on Peacekeeping Operations.A UN spokesperson has told Innercity press by email that the appointment will be accepted as he was nominated by member states of the UN. The General Assembly specified that five eminent persons of relevant experience should be independently appointed by the Secretary-General himself. The Secretary-General’s responsibility under GA resolution 65/289 related only to the nomination of the five eminent persons that he was asked to selected himself and the 15 other members of the SAG were selected by the TCCs, FCCs and Regional Groups, as prescribed by the General Assembly, the UN spokesperson said.Silva’s appointment drew criticism from some groups as he faces charges of being involved in alleged war crimes during the final stages of the war against the LTTE. read more

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Malaysia defends decision on Lanka

Regarding the Israel-Palestinian issue, Riot said that Malaysia was looking for a peaceful solution between the two states.He also reassured MPs present that Malaysia would give Sri Lanka a chance to prove itself.“(But) if during the period of reconciliation, that they don’t achieve peace, then the international community will meet and vote whether they will interfere or not,” he told the House.Pakatan Rakyat MPs however were not satisfied with Riot’s response.Criticising the LLRC as “weak”, Klang MP (DAP) Charles Santiago said that the LLRC report supported the Sri Lankan government.Ipoh Barat MP (DAP) M Kulasegaran said that it was “shameful” for Malaysia to be one of the eight abstaining countries.“I compare, these are irrelevant countries. They are substandard (in) human rights values and so forth. Can we compare to them?”“No! Malaysia is entirely different. Our standard is very high, our per capita income is very high. The expectation of the world is very high and we are a member of the Human Rights Council!” he said.He also asked on the allegation that Malaysia’s abstention was due to billion-ringgit business deals with Sri Lanka.Kulasegaran claimed that there were “many big business people” in league with the Barisan Nasional government who were investing in Sri Lanka.In response, Riot said that matters of foreign trade did not come under his ministry and that it came under the Ministry of International trade and Industry. (Courtesy Free Malaysia Today) “Taking into account 30 years of conflict and complexities of domestic issues… unfair for (the UN) resolution to impose an obligation on the government of Sri Lanka to report in just three months,” he said, during the wind-up on the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s Speech today. He said that the country, which had fought a civil war between 1972 to 2009, tabled a report investigating the war’s atrocities in its own parliament on Dec 16, 2011. Riot also said that Malaysia had acknowledged Sri Lanka’s national reconciliation process as a domestic issue.He added that Sri Lanka had taken the “necessary steps” to share information with the international community over reconciliation and development efforts. “…the report has said there were human rights violations and crimes against humanity…(by the) Sri Lankan government and the LTTE,” said Riot.He said that Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) confirmed the same thing, adding that the country’s security forces had acted in self-defence.He also claimed that Malaysia’s abstention was not a double standard and that the country did not interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs. To this, the Malaysian government acknowledged that genocide had indeed taken place in the conflict-ridden country, citing a paper known as the “Darusman Report”. Riot was referring to the US-led resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on March 22. The resolution was passed with 24 votes in favour, 15 against and eight abstentions.(The countries that abstained from voting were Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Senegal.)In the last few months of the war, more than 40,000 people were alleged to have been killed by security forces and Sri Lankan rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). Malaysia has defended the decision to abstain from voting in a United Nations resolution urging Sri Lanka to “credibly investigate” allegations of war crimes during the final months of its civil war there.Amongst the reasons, according to Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Richard Riot, was that Sri Lanka’s problems were too complex to solve in a short time. read more

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President invites UPFA party leaders for meeting

President Maithripala Sirisena has invited United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party leaders for a meeting tomorrow.The meeting is scheduled to take place at the President’s official residence tomorrow morning, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and UPFA member Wimal Weerawansa said. The President, as chairman of the UPFA, has called for the meeting ahead of the new Parliament meeting tomorrow. Weerawansa said that he will make clear that his party will not support the National Government formed between the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. (Colombo Gazette) Speaking to journalists at a media briefing, Weerawansa said that he will take part in the meeting and express his views on several issues.

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SB blames Mahinda for UPFA polls loss

The Minister, speaking to reporters in Kandy today, said that if President Maithripala Sirisena led the UPFA campaign instead of Rajapaksa the UPFA would have secured more votes and regained the votes it lost even at the Presidential election. He said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party will work together on many issues, including on the human rights issue.Dissanayake said that President Maithripala Sirisena has been able to win the support of India for Sri Lanka and this resulted even the United States extending support to Sri Lanka on the human rights issue. (Colombo Gazette) He noted that Rajapaksa failed to get the full support of the Muslims, Tamils and Catholics. United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPF) member of Parliament and Government Minister S B Dissanayake today blamed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the loss suffered by the UPFA at the last election.Dissanayake said that Rajapaksa should not have contested the Parliamentary election which the UPFA eventually lost by a slim margin. read more

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Armitage and President Sirisena hold talks

Former United States Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat today.In an OP-ED contribution to Wall Street Journal in January following the Presidential election, Armitage strongly advocated that the U.S. move quickly to take advantage of the opening presented by the newly elected government (of President Maithripala Sirisena)” while laying down a trajectory for the revival of Sri Lanka-US relations. Armitage was once deeply involved in the peace process during the period Ranil Wickremasinghe was heading the Government under President Chandrika Kumaratunga. (Colombo Gazette)

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China told Colombo port city project will resume

Construction of the Colombo Port City began in September 2014 under the previous Mahinda Rajapakse government. “It has direct foreign investment from China worth 1.4 billion U.S. dollars and this investment can further trigger foreign investment totaling 13 billion U.S. dollars and bring in about 83, 000 job opportunities,” Liu said.“Sri Lanka should implement the already signed agreements of the Port City project and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the investors. I have received a positive response from the Sri Lankan side and the leaders have made it clear that they will firmly put forward the Colombo Port City project and with joint efforts the project will see a re-start of construction at an early date,” he added. “The assistance will prioritize medical and health care, education, water conservancy and other programs related to people’ s well being, such as the construction of a kidney hospital,” he said. “This will make the China-Sri Lanka cooperation deliver more benefits to the Sri Lankan people.” (Xinhua) The new Sri Lankan government has informed China that it will continue the development of suspended Chinese projects, including a multi-billion-dollar mega port city, a Chinese special envoy said on Friday.Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters that during his talks with the Sri Lankan leaders, they had informed him that the Chinese-funded Colombo Port City project would see a re-start at the earliest possible date. The 1.4-billion-U.S. dollar project, funded by the China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), was suspended by the government of President Maithripala Sirisena in March for a review of the contract. China and Sri Lanka will also make best use of China’s grant assistance to the island nation for the 2014-2016 period announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the island nation last year. Liu said the Chinese government hoped the Port City could be completed in three to five years.The Sri Lankan government has expressed its hope to include the project under its megapolis development plan in order to transform the capital and the country into a technologically advanced and smart nation.Liu, who is also a special envoy of the Chinese government, said the two sides had agreed to work together in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and further coordinate their development strategies so as to achieve a win-win cooperation. read more

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Kolonnawa UC Chairman arrested remanded

The Bar Association noted that among those injured in the attack were attorney- at- law Nuwan Bopege who is also a member of the Executive Committee, who has given leadership to the movement which has campaigned for the rights of the people of the Kolonnawa and Meethotamulla areas to live in an environment free from the squalor and pollution caused by the uncontrolled dumping of garbage which for years has not been resolved by the authorities. Kolonnawa Urban Council Ravindra Udaya Shantha was arrested and remanded till January 4 over the assault on a group of residents in the Meethotamulla area.Those assaulted had taken part in a protest against the dumping of garbage in Meethotamulla. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) had yesterday condemned in the strongest terms the attack allegedly led by the head of a local government authority, on a group protesting against the garbage dump at Kolonnawa on December 27 night and demanded that the assailants be immediately apprehended and dealt with according to law, irrespective of their status. The Bar Association also called upon both the President and the Prime Minister and other political leaders to take immediate steps to curb such unwarranted conduct on the part of politicians and to take deterrent action to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in the future. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Traders in Matara close shops and protest against VAT increase

Traders in Matara closed their shops today and staged a protest against the recent VAT increase.Day-to-day activities in Matara were affected with the closure of most shops in the Matara town. The owners of the shops took to the streets and staged a protest demanding that the increase on the VAT be reversed.Similar protests were staged in other parts of the country as well over the past few days. (Colombo Gazette)

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Government doctors launch 24 hour token strike

Government doctors launched a 24 hour strike today on the SAITM private medical college issue.The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said the strike was launched in all Government hospitals around the country. The strike was launched at 8am today but the GMOA said that emergency services will not be affected. (Colombo Gazette)

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