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FM urges countries to relax travel advisories

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry convened a briefing on current developments in Sri Lanka for the Colombo-based diplomatic corps yesterday (10).

 Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya, Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka and Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane were associated with the briefing.
Opening the meeting, the Minister thanked the international community for the support extended to Sri Lanka towards economic recovery and briefed on progress made in this regard. He also requested countries to review their travel advisories to reflect the stability in the country which would further encourage tourist influx.

The Minister also highlighted initiatives taken by the government for reconciliation including the convening of the All-Party Conference by the President in December 2022 and January 2023 and the appointment of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Reconciliation chaired by the President. He also briefed on the government’s position on the 13th Amendment and the proposed counter-terrorism legislation. He provided an update on ongoing efforts to set up a Truth and Reconciliation mechanism, and thanked the Government of South Africa for facilitating a working visit in March to study the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka briefed on developments related to the government’s structural reform process in the context of IMF, World Bank and ADB programmes, and highlighted the measures taken, inter alia, towards debt sustainability, fiscal oversight, social protection for the vulnerable segments, good governance and addressing corruption.

Foreign Secretary Wijewardane outlined Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with the UN mechanisms including Sri Lanka’s recent participation in the 4th Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the 6th Periodic Review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). She added that Sri Lanka also submitted its 9th Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in April 2022 and has started the consultation process among relevant stakeholders.

The Foreign Secretary also highlighted the government’s initiatives to proactively engage with Sri Lankans overseas including through the recently established Office for Overseas Sri Lankans Affairs.

Following the briefing members of the diplomatic corps engaged in a discussion on several pertinent issues, including investment promotion, reconciliation, good governance, and anti-corruption. They also thanked Minister Sabry for providing regular briefings to the diplomatic corps on relevant developments in Sri Lanka.

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Investigations launched into alleged Rs. 8 billion fraud in trading community scheme

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The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have initiated separate investigations into a suspected fraud where a man and his wife are alleged to have defrauded approximately Rs. 8 billion from around 22,000 individuals across the country. 

The fraudulent scheme, reminiscent of a pyramid scheme, involved promises of establishing a trading community and acquiring dollars for the country through the distribution of educational packages.

Complaints received by the CID and the Central Bank indicate that approximately 22,000 people fell victim to this fraud. 

The suspect, who started a business school and a company in the Kurunegala area, claimed that investments would be made in a company in the United Arab Emirates, and the commission received would be distributed to the investors. 

Preliminary investigations have uncovered the use of fake documents to deceive individuals into believing that the business school and the company were registered.

Investors reportedly invested amounts ranging from one to 1.5 million rupees, with some not receiving any benefits. 

Both the CID and the Central Bank are actively pursuing the investigation to apprehend the individuals responsible for the alleged Rs. 8 billion fraud.

Source – dailymirror.lk

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SLPP MP temporarily ordained as monk

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SLPP Kandy District MP – Gunatileke Rajapaksa has been temporarily ordained as a Buddhist monk at the historical Isipathanarama Temple in India.

He is now known as Ven. Harispathuwe Dhammarathana Thera.
His son – Sandakelum Rajapaksa, who is an engineer by profession, has also been ordained as Ven. Ampare Dhammaloka Thera.

The MP had reportedly decided to enter into the religious order after the recent death of his wife. He too, was recently hospitalised after falling ill.

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Court delays ruling on Online Safety Act challenge

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The Sri Lankan Supreme Court today indefinitely postponed its decision on whether to hear a fundamental rights petition challenging the Online SafetyAct No. 9 of 2024.

President’s Counsel and Jaffna District Member of Parliament M A Sumanthiran filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court on 14th Feb., challenging the Speaker’s certification of the Online Safety Bill as having been enacted into law.

During the hearing, Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam presented five preliminary objections, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case since the Speaker has already signed the bill into law. 

He further emphasized that the legislature holds the sole authority to pass bills, and the court cannot intervene in that process.

Countering these arguments, Attorney-at-Law Suren Fernando, representing Sumanthiran, asserted that the petition aimed solely at the Speaker’s signing of the Act, which he claimed contravened previous Supreme Court pronouncements on related petitions. 

He emphasized the petitioner’s intention to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

The three-judge bench, comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardene, Shiran Gunaratne, and Achala Vengappuli, decided to postpone their decision on hearing the petition indefinitely. 

In his Petition, MP Sumanthiran claims that the government was seeking to enact the Bill without fully adhering the Supreme Court Determination, and that he had pointed out that the draft committee stage amendments would not sufficiently rectify the shortcomings, and provided his concerns in writing to the Speaker.

However, the Parliament had voted on the Bill prior to ensuring full compliance with the Determination, according to Sumanthiran.

The Petitioner claims that the Bill could have been passed by simple majority only if all the changes required by the Supreme Court were incorporated. If these were not incorporated, the Bill could only have been enacted if 2/3 of the whole number of MPs voted in favour of the Bill.

MP Sumanthiran states that the Bill was approved only by a simple majority of members present, and that therefore the Bill could not have become law.

Therefore he states that the Speaker, by certifying that the Bill was enacted into law, has violated the public trust and the fundamental rights guaranteed to Sumanthiran and the citizenry.

Sumanthiran also states that according to the Speaker, he had acted in accordance with advise given by the Attorney General, and if so, the Attorney General is also responsible for the violation of fundamental rights occasioned by the purported certification of the Bill.

The Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney General are named as Respondents to the Application.

(News 1st)

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