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Wickremesinghe administration should respect fundamental rights – HRW

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The Wickremesinghe administration should respect fundamental rights, including peaceful protest, says Human Rights Watch.

Mentioning the Sri Lankan President’s warning yesterday (23) that he will declare a state of emergency and deploy security forces in the event of major protests, the HRW says, “Without respect for human rights, including the right to peacefully protest, Sri Lankans cannot hold politicians accountable, whether for mismanagement or corruption. It is essential that Sri Lanka’s international partners, including the United States and European Union, press the government to fulfill its human rights obligations as an essential step towards addressing the crisis.”

The full statement of the HRW is as follows :

The dramatic fuel shortages that accompanied mass protests in Sri Lanka earlier this year may have eased, but for millions of Sri Lankans the economic crisis is worse than ever.

This month, the United Nations renewed a humanitarian appeal, stating that 28 percent of the population faces food insecurity and that the poverty rate this year has doubled.

Food price inflation was over 85 percent in October, and acute shortages of foreign currency mean that many imports, including essential medicines, are scarce or unobtainable. Meanwhile, authorities have cracked down on peaceful protest. President Ranil Wickremasinghe has suppressed demonstrations and has used the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to detain student activists. Wickremasinghe has even warned that he will again declare a state of emergency and deploy security forces in the event of major protests.

Without respect for human rights, including the right to peacefully protest, Sri Lankans cannot hold politicians accountable, whether for mismanagement or corruption. It is essential that Sri Lanka’s international partners, including the United States and European Union, press the government to fulfill its human rights obligations as an essential step towards addressing the crisis.

Sri Lankan economists fear the economic situation could deteriorate rapidly without action by foreign creditors, placing the basic needs of millions of people in further jeopardy. To stabilize the economy, international creditors should agree to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt so the country can secure final approval for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan and financing from other global agencies.

In April, Sri Lanka defaulted on over US$50 billion in debts to international creditors, and in September it reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a four-year, $2.9 billion bailout. The first tranche of that bailout would ease the crippling shortage of foreign exchange and unlock access to other funding, including from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, which cannot provide new funding until the IMF agreement is completed.

Sri Lanka’s major foreign creditors, including China, Japan, and India, should urgently mitigate the adverse human rights impacts of the economic crisis. The IMF should use its procedures to make needed funds available as soon as possible, putting into place safeguards to protect people’s economic and social rights.

And the Wickremesinghe administration should respect fundamental rights, including to peaceful protest.

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Man arrested for defrauding money on promise to send people to France

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Seven people who tried to go to France through Azerbaijan and an owner of an employment agency in Kahathuduwa who spearheaded the smuggling were arrested, the Kahathuduwa Police said.

According to the police, this smuggling was uncovered during an investigation carried out based on a complaint made by a person from Wellawatte.

He has told the police that when he went to the airport based on a notice given by the owner of the employment agency at Pragathi Mawatha in Kahathuduwa, the airport officials turned him away saying that he did not have a visa in his name.

He had given Rs.800,000 to the agent.

It was further said in the complaint that although 6 other people went to the airport with him, they were also unable to go abroad.

Source: Lankadeepa

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Cold weather to continue

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The prevailing cold weather is expected to continue across the country, the Department of Meteorology said.

This is due to the wind currents blowing into the country as an impact of the cyclone Mandaus, which is active in Bay of Bengal.

Director General of the Meteorological Department, Athula Karunanayake said the wind speed in the sea areas around the country will remain high.

He also said the cyclone will move towards Tamil Nadu today (09).

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John Tarbet Championship postponed

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Sir John Tarbert Athletics Championship has been postponed due to the prevailing adverse weather, the School Athletic Association said.

The tournament was scheduled to be held on December 09, 10 and 11 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium, Homagama.

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