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No election postponements over electoral reforms – Minister 

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Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe assured that the election amendment bills presented to Parliament are not anticipated to result in any postponement of elections.

The minister highlighted that promises to combat corruption and reform the electoral system have been made in presidential elections since 1994, but none have been fulfilled. He also noted that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has already submitted amendments aimed at tackling corruption and implementing a proportional election system.

Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was addressing a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre yesterday (25) under the theme of “Collective Path to a Stable Country”.

Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, adding to his remarks, also stated:

As a critical democratic principle, it’s essential that people are informed about the laws being proposed in Parliament. Currently, our country’s law only recognizes rape as a violation against women. However, with the new amendments, the law can be applied irrespective of the victim’s gender. For instance, sexual violence perpetrated by a husband against a legally separated wife will be considered rape under these amendments. Furthermore, there’s a proposal to strengthen the penalties for coercion occurring in police custody, prisons, or under someone else’s control.

Furthermore, I want to mention that there has been a recent amendment to the law, which now stipulates a ten-year prison sentence for minors involved in corruption. These legal changes come after a thorough study conducted by a team of senior lawyers spanning approximately four years. It’s worth noting that several social activists are expressing their concerns and objections regarding these amendments. Additionally, certain parties have taken the step of challenging this bill in the Supreme Court.

I would like to highlight that along with other developments, an election amendment bill has recently been submitted to Parliament. Reflecting on historical context, in 1994, Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga ran as a presidential candidate and made three significant election promises. These included abolishing the executive presidential system, combating corruption, and abolishing the proportional voting system. Additionally, the bill suggests the appointment of councillors responsible for specific divisions. Despite several amendments to the constitution over time, no changes have been made to alter the electoral system as of yet.

The 19th Constitutional Amendment led to a notable decrease in the powers of the President. Previously, the President enjoyed immunity from prosecution, even in cases as serious as murder. However, the amendment altered this provision, removing presidential immunity. Consequently, the courts have ruled against four presidents, underscoring a shift in legal accountability for presidential actions.

Furthermore, a commission with legal authority has been established to combat corruption. This commission is empowered to oversee the assets and liabilities of individuals ranging from the president to the lowest-ranking officer. Numerous amendments related to this commission have been presented thus far, aiming to formalize the Corruption Perceptions Commission as an independent entity. Since 1994, each presidential candidate has pledged to address corruption during elections, yet none have followed through on these promises. However, under the leadership of President Ranil Wickemesinghe, an amendment has been proposed this year to implement a proportional election system and fortify measures against corruption.
In countries such as India, England, and America, the electoral systems include the constituency system, which aims to represent all segments of the population, including the marginalized. I believe that introducing a senate system would further enhance representation, ensuring that every constituency is adequately represented. Unlike in parliamentary elections where popularity often dictates representation, a senate system would allow for the appointment of talented individuals who may not be as widely known. This would lead to a more diverse and capable parliament, reflecting the varied expertise and perspectives of the population.

There has been speculation in society about the possibility of postponing elections due to the electoral amendments currently under discussion. However, it’s important to clarify that none of these amendments are intended to delay elections in any way. There are two upcoming elections, and candidates participating in these elections can also share their views on the proposed electoral amendments. This engagement will provide an opportunity for the public to contribute to the discourse on these amendments and have a say in shaping election processes.

(President’s Media Division)

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Local multi-day fishing trawler seized with ICE & heroin worth over Rs. 3798 Mn.

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In another successful intelligence operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, a local multi-day fishing trawler (01) carrying a large haul of narcotics, with 06 suspects aboard, were intercepted about 133 nautical miles (about 246 km) off Dondra, south of Sri Lanka. 

The operation also resulted in the seizure of another local one-day fishing trawler (01) with 04 suspects, believed to have been there to fetch the consignment of narcotics mid-sea. The operation was mounted by deploying Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship (SLCG) Samudraraksha which made the apprehension on 12th April 2024.

 The haul of narcotics included about 179kg and 906g of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) and about 83kg and 582g of heroin (with their packages). The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera arrived at the Galle Harbour on 13th April to inspect the consignment of narcotics held in this operation.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard regularly patrol and conduct search operations along the island’s coast to prevent illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, stemming via sea routes.

During this dedicated operation based on naval intelligence, a suspicious multi-day fishing trawler, which was about 133 nautical miles (246 km) off the south coast of the island, was intercepted and searched by SLCG Samudraraksha. As the fishing trawler was suspected of smuggling a haul of crystal methamphetamine and heroin in 17 sacks, during the search, the narcotic-carrying trawler was held on 12th April, with 06 suspects aboard.

Additionally, SLCG Samudraraksha inspected another local one-day fishing trawler, which was plying suspiciously in the sea area. During the inspection, 04 suspects were apprehended, along with the trawler, on suspicion of attempting to exchange narcotics with the multi-day trawler previously seized.

Following a thorough search of the suspicious multi-day fishing trawler at the Galle Harbour on 13th April, authorities recovered 17 sacks containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The haul of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 179kg and 906g (including packages), were in 129 packages, stuffed in 13 sacks and the stash of heroin, weighing about 83kg and 582g (including packages), were in 76 packages, contained in 04 sacks. The consignment of narcotics, along with the 06 suspects and the multi-day fishing trawler was handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) for onward legal action.

Moreover, the 04 individuals, along with the one-day fishing trawler, which were seized on suspicion of being involved in a drug exchange at sea, were also handed over to PNB for further legal action.

The individuals held in the operation are known to reside in the Weligama, Imaduwa, and Galle areas, ranging in age from 23 to 54 years old. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the consignment of drugs seized during this operation is believed to be more than Rs. 3798 million.

Including the recent confiscation, the Sri Lanka Navy has held drugs with a gross street value of over Rs. 9300 million during operations mounted so far in 2024. The Sri Lanka Navy – the country’s first line of defence is committed to coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, to carry out anti-drug operations of this nature in order to foil drug smuggling attempts being made in the guise of fishing.

(navy.lk)

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Sri Lanka Mirror wishes everyone a happy Sinhala and Tamil New Year!

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The 2024 Sinhala and Tamil New Year dawned at 09.05 pm last night (April 13).

‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ extends heartfelt New Year greetings to all our readers. May this upcoming year be filled with boundless happiness, prosperity, and success for each and everyone of you.

–  Sri Lanka Mirror team

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Derailed train causes delays on coastal line

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A train has derailed at the Kalutara South railway station on Saturday morning (13).

Trains operating on the Coastal Line are thus experiencing delays, Sri Lanka Railways said.

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