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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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President pays final respects to late Dr. Ariyaratne & Palitha Thewarapperuma (Pics)

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (April 19) paid his final respects to the late social activist and founder of the Sarvodaya movement, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne as well as to former UNP Member of Parliament and former Deputy Minister, Palitha Thevarapperuma.Visiting the Moratuwa Sarvodaya Headquarters where Mr. Ariyaratne was laid to rest, the President offered his final respects and left a condolence note. He also shared condolences with the grieving family members. 

The President also paid his last respects and extended condolences to the grieving family and local community at the residence Palitha Thewarapperuma, in Yatadolawatte, Matugama.

UNP Chairman MP Wajira Abeywardena and several others attended the event.

(Pics : PMD)


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Flu & diarrhea cases among children on the rise

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Health Authorities have warned of a rise of diarrhea and flu cases among children after the New Year period.
Consultant paediatrician Dr. Deepal Perera advised parents to immediately seek medical attention if their children have been suffering from fever continuously for 3-4 days.

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Fortified rice distribution initiative commences

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The distribution of fortified rice, provided by the World Food Program (WFP) on behalf of the program initiated under the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, to provide a nutritious meal for school students, commenced today, (19) at the Veyangoda warehouse complex.

In an effort to reduce iron deficiency among school children, fortified rice is provided for school meals. This distribution will be conducted under the supervision of Mr. M.H.A.M. Riflan, Director General for the Partnership Secretariat for World Food Programme Co-operation (PSWFPC), which operates under the purview of the Presidential Secretariat.

As planned, the distribution of 735 metric tons of rice to provincial-level schools commenced today as part of the first phase and will continue tomorrow (20). This rice stock is being delivered to schools under the supervision of officials from the respective Provincial Departments of Education and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs).

Meanwhile, Director General for the PSWFPC, Mr. M.H.A.M. Riflan stated that 378.835 metric tons of dhal, 412.08 metric tons of sunflower cooking oil, and 300 metric tons of dates will be distributed to schools following the start of the new school term on May 19.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Education has implemented measures to provide a main meal at school for all students in grades 1-5 across the country. Following nutritionists’ recommendations, students receive breakfast between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. daily before engaging in educational activities.

Under the theme of ‘Healthy Active Generation,’ the 2024 school meal program aims to reduce nutritional problems among students, increase daily school attendance, foster good eating and health habits, contribute to the improvement of educational achievement levels, and fulfil the fundamental objectives of promoting local food culture.The school feeding program for this year extends its benefits to 1.6 million students, including primary students from 9,134 government schools, as well as smaller schools with fewer than 100 students. A budget of Rs. 16.6 billion has been allocated to the nine provincial councils by the government, supplemented by sponsorship from entities such as the World Food Program (WFP) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

(President’s Media Division) 

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