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Critics in Lanka silenced says report

In a recent example, Faraz Shauketaly, a journalist with the Sunday Leader was left badly injured after unknown gunmen shot him in the neck in February 2013.Older high-profile cases, such as the 2009 killing of former Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunge, remain unresolved.Websites with articles critical of the government face frequent cyber attacks, while their offices have been raided by police or burned down by unknown arsonists. The government has also used amendments to legislation – such as providing for the imposition of exorbitant “registration” fees – to shut down critical online outlets.“The government’s blatant attempts to restrict and silence the independent media  fly in the face of the press freedom, which is supposed to be guaranteed by both domestic and international law,” said Truscott.Much of the government’s crackdown is aimed at silencing criticism of its conduct during the armed conflict, in particular during its final months when many thousands of civilians died at the hands of the LTTE and the army.Pressure on critics tends to intensify around key international events. Examples include recent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions in 2012 and 2013, when the HRC passed resolutions highlighting the need to investigate alleged violations of international law by the Sri Lankan government during the armed conflict.Participants in UN meetings and Sri Lankan journalists covering the events were repeatedly verbally attacked in Sri Lankan government media outlets, and in some cases physically threatened.Others who have been targeted by the government include human rights activists, trade union leaders, humanitarian aid workers and opposition politicians, in particular those active in the Tamil-majority north.In November 2013, the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to take place in Colombo. Sri Lanka would then represent the Commonwealth as its Chair for the next two years.“Before November, Commonwealth governments must pressure the Sri Lankan government to address the alarming human rights situation in the country,” said Truscott.“The CHOGM meeting must not be allowed to go ahead in Colombo unless the government has demonstrated beforehand that it has stopped systematic violations of human rights. All attacks on individuals must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and those responsible held to account.”In addition to these ongoing violations, the Sri Lankan government has failed – despite repeated promises to do so – to effectively investigate allegations of crimes under international law committed by the LTTE and the army during the armed conflict.“It is abundantly clear that Colombo is unwilling and unable to investigate the credible allegations of crimes under international law, including war crimes, during the conflict. What is needed is an independent, impartial and internationally led investigation,” said Truscott. (Colombo Gazette)CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT Tension culminated in January 2013 when Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached on charges of misconduct, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the impeachment procedure was unconstitutional.While much of Sri Lankan media is firmly in the hands of the government, the authorities have targeted outlets that remain independent and criticize official policies, or the government’s conduct during the armed conflict.Journalists continue to suffer intimidation, threats and attacks for reports that are critical of the government. At least 15 have been killed since 2006 and many others have been forced to flee the country. The Sri Lankan government is intensifying its crackdown on critics through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks, Amnesty International said in a report released today.The document, “Assault on Dissent,” reveals how the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is promoting an official attitude that equates criticism with “treason” in a bid to tighten its grip on power. The September 2010 introduction of the 18th constitutional amendment placed key government institutions directly under the president’s control, while the continued use of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) grants sweeping powers to the security forces.At the same time, official government discourse has become increasingly hostile towards critics, with terms like “traitor” used regularly by state-run media outlets.Government critics have been subjected to verbal and physical harassment, attacks and in some cases killings. The report details dozens of such cases, both before and after 2009. The judiciary has been a key target of repression, with the government  undermining its independence by making threats against judges who rule in favour of victims of human rights violations. Journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and opposition politicians are among those who have been targeted in a disturbing pattern of government-sanctioned abuse, often involving the security forces or their proxies. “Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director. “Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease. There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka, with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it.”Almost immediately after the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, when the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) were defeated, the government started consolidating its power. read more

Anglo Tapes No smoking gun says Central Bank boss

first_img‘THERE IS NO smoking gun’. Part of the reason why the Central Bank won’t be making any reports to the Gardaí as a result of the ‘Anglo Tapes’.Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan told the Oireachtas Finance Committee today that the tapes didn’t contain sufficient evidence to make a report to the Gardaí or the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.“I don’t want to say that we have found that nothing happened, I’m just saying that we haven’t found that something has happened,” he said.Honohan was responding to questions from a number of Dáil deputies about yesterday’s statement from the Central Bank that “no new issues” had come to light as a result of the tapes.He rejected some of the media coverage following to the statement which he said suggested that the Central Bank saw no problem with the content of the tapes, a conclusion he said is not true.Honohan said that the Central Bank took the decision to make yesterday’s statement because “we felt we owe it to the public to say we’ve found no new evidence of criminality when we didn’t”.Among the revelations in the tapes was a quote from Anglo’s John Bowe that the bank had sought to mislead the Central Bank about how much capital was required by the bank in the days leading up to the bank guarantee.Honohan was pushed Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty on why the institution hasn’t tried to listen to further tapes from Anglo in an attempt to identify criminal wrongdoing. He responded by saying that, not only is this not the role of the Central Bank, but that it would also not be of any benefit to them:We are not an entity that investigates criminal matters, if criminal matters come to our attention then we pass them to the Gardaí. So it’s a bit undirected to say, “Why don’t we get our hands on hundred of hours of tapes and trawl through them”. There may be people that have financial interest in doing this but we’re not going to get any more money out of Anglo Irish Bank and if its to do with with criminal matters we don’t have any authority there.“This doesn’t stop anyone doing any further work on this it doesn’t stop anything, ” he had said earlier.In a testy exchange with committee member Kieran O’Donnell of Fine Gael, Honohan said that the Central Bank did not have any information that was not available to the Gardaí, “Without being facetious do you want me to pass on a copy of the Sunday Independent?,” he said.Reckless mismanagement of a bankHonohan was also questioned by Doherty about why the former Anglo executives heard in the tapes were allowed to remain in their positions and indeed be promoted. The governor accepted that it was a pertinent question but referred to the words of former Deputy Matthew Elderfield who had previously told the Public Accounts Committee that taking actions against individuals is “difficult in the structures that we have”.He suggested a legislative remedy that he says the Central Bank has been ‘knocking around for some time’:A possible criminal offence of reckless misconduct in the management of a bank. We’re talking about mismanagement on a large scale here, you are the members of the Oireachtas, we come up against barriers that are legislative barriers.Read: Calls for Enda Kenny to clarify Anglo contact >Read: Anglo tapes: Central Bank ‘were effectively egging us on’ >Read: Anglo Tapes: ‘If Central Bank did have access to contents, what the hell was it doing?’ – McDonald >last_img read more