Politics behind incidents in Digana, Ampara and Theldeniya: Kiriella

There is political influence behind the unfortunate incidents in Digana, Theldeniya and Ampara, said Leader of the House and Public Enterprise and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday.

He questioned as to who went there in Defender Jeeps. He also said that the names of those who demanded to reveal the names of the arrestees are in Police books.

He added that those who created a commotion in Ampara had come to Digana and Kandy. "Ninenty nine percent of those who destroyed the properties of Muslims were outsiders," the Minister said. "People had said that those who were in Ampara had come to Kandy." The Minister made these observations yesterday, joining the Adjournment Debate in Parliament that discussed the prevailing tense situation between communities in the country at the moment.

He also said that MP Dinesh Gunawardena's statement had let the cat out of the bag. "Dinesh Gunawardena said that innocent people were assaulted," Minister Kiriella said. "Such an assault did not take place.

Who went to the Police to take bail?"

He also criticised the Police for not recognizing the possibility of an emerging Sinhala - Muslim clash following the death of a Sinhala person in Teldeniya. He added that Intelligence had to recognized the possibility of the emerging clash following the death.

He added that a Sinhalese youth and a Muslim youth had died in these conflicts. "These are brutal activities," the Minister said. He added that the Sinhalese had to pardon the Muslim people.

For a permanent High Court at Bar

Gayantha presents Bill to amend Judicature Act No 2 of 1978

Chief Government Whip Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka yesterday, presented a Bill to amend the Judicature Act No 2 of 1978, to provide for the establishment of a Permanent High Court at Bar to try, hear and determine the trials of criminal offences daily and expedite the legal processes.

The Bill seeks to amend the Judicature Act to give powers to the Permanent High Court at Bar to try many a number of offences, including theft, dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust, criminal breach of trust by a Clerk or Servant, Criminal breach of trust by a Public Servant, or by Banker, Merchant, or Agent, dishonestly receiving stolen property, cheating, forgery, making a false document, making or possessing a counterfeit seal, plate etc, with intent to commit a forgery, offence of money laundering, bribery of judicial officers and Members of Parliament, bribery of police officers, peace officers and other public officers, corruption and conspiracy and abetment to commit offences under the Bribery Act.

The Bill gives legal effect to (a) make provisions for the Permanent High Court at Bar to try, hear and determine the trials of the offences specified in the Sixth Schedule to the principal enactment and any other offence committed in the course of the same transaction of any such offence; (b) specify the composition of the Permanent High Court at Bar; (c) enable the Minister to specify the location or locations of the Permanent High Court at Bar; (d) enable the Attorney General and the Director General for the Prevention of Bribery and Corruption, to institute criminal proceedings in the Permanent High Court at Bar; (e) make certain other provisions which shall apply for the trials of the Permanent High Court at Bar; (f) make provision for an appeal from the Permanent High Court at Bar to be heard by a Bench of not less than five judges of the Supreme Court and (g) make provision for the construction of other written laws, in consistent with the provisions of this amendment.

“Such Permanent High Court at Bar shall consist of three Judges sitting together, nominated by the Judicial Service Commission from among the Judges of the High Court of the Republic of Sri Lanka of which one Judge shall be nominated by the Judicial Service Commission as the Chairman of such Court,” stated in the Bill.

The debate on the Bill would be taken up for debate on a future date.

Hakeem demands Commission of Inquiry

Food mixed with sterilization tablets

City Planning, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday, demanded to appoint a Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate the alleged incident of food mixed with sterilization tablets being served to a customer at a hotel in Amapara on February 26.

The Minister also stated that those affected persons, businessmen and institutions during the clash in Ampara following the very person accused the hotel owner had mixed some pills to make people permanently sterile, should be paid compensation.

Minister Hakeem made these observations yesterday, making a special statement under standing Order 23 (2) and participating in the Adjournment Motion on the recent Sinhala-Muslim riots.

The Minister further said that the country had suffered immensely in a three decade war and everybody should take probable steps to prevent the country from experiencing such a dark era once again.

Making a special statement under Standing Orders 23 (2), Minister Hakeem stated that following the Local Government election incidents related to racial violence, vandalism and assault against Islamic religious places took place in Ampara and Kandy. He added that these were not isolated incidents, but well organized crimes committed against one community with the malicious intention of creating instability in the country to produce a political crisis to facilitate their dreams of usurping power. He also said that their intention was to lead the country on the path towards crisis to tarnish the image of the country among the international community and the UN, while bringing the country into disrepute causing an economic crisis.

He said that the recently related incidents were those that occurred at Digana and Theldeniya in Kandy. He added that when one analyze the incidents clearly, it is clear that those incidents had unleashed violence in an organized manner. He added that a Sinhalese youth had lost his life in an incident at Digana, while four Muslims were arrested in relation to the crime. "But organized groups who participated at the funeral damaged property, Muslim religious places, houses and vehicles. Although Police curfew was imposed, the situation had not been fully controlled.

The Minister also said that when the Ampara incident occurred, three shops and other property were damaged. He added that it was highly questionable as to how the law was enforced in that connection.

He added that it was first reported before the Magistrate that it was matter of racial conflict, but later it was reported as something personal. He added that the Police had covered the fact that this was organized crime against a community and Muslim religious place and also done by way of unlawful assembly.

He added that the Police did not act efficiently act during these incidents, as they exhibited at the incidents at Thambuththegama and Ginigathhena.

Inciting racial hatred a non-bailable offence

Inciting racial hatred is a non-bailable offence under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Sri Lanka has subscribed, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha told Parliament yesterday. Speaking at the Adjournment Debate, the Minster lamented that no successive government has had the political will to change in terms of the ICCPR Statute.

“This country has suffered continuously because of private incidents being used by certain politicians for their political gains. Religious hatred is the easiest political tool for bankrupt politicians to achieve their political ambitions,” he said.

Observing that the Government could have acted more swiftly and Police could have acted with more responsibility to control the situation, the Minister urged the President and Prime Minister to enforce law and order and take more meaningful steps to prevent such occurrences. “No religious leader or politician should get shelter just because of the race or religion they represent,” he stressed.

“We need to work with one Sri Lankan identity. Whatever ethnicity it is, wrong is wrong and right is right. People have taken the law into their hands on numerous occasions. Buddhism is a religion that preaches compassion and kindness. I urge the government to appoint an independent Presidential Commission and serve justice to all,” he added.

Incidents that bring death and damage to properties are heinous:Dinesh

Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday, expressed his condolences over the unfortunate deaths that occurred during the recent conflicts in Ampara, Digana and Teldeniya.

He condemned such incidents as heinous activities that brought death and caused damages to properties of the people.

He made these observations yesterday, joining the Adjournment Debate in Parliament that discussed the prevailing tense situation between the communities in the country at the moment. He also said that the responsibility of implementing law was in the hands of the Government and it should take quick measures to bring the situation back to normal. "As Premier Wickremesinghe pointed out, various messages were circulated in the social media," MP Gunawardena said. "It is a grave phenomenon that the society face by now."

He pointed out that these incidents reflect the bankruptcy of law and order and not an issue among Sinhala - Muslim, Tamil - Muslim or Sinhala - Tamil. He added that Kumarasinghe died on March 02, while the commotion took place on March 05. "It should be investigated as to who urged the people," MP Gunawardena said. "The law enforcement bodies should consider both sides."

Enforcement authorities should ensure citizens are treated equally

The recent violent incidents in Ampara and Kandy are indicative of a sense of impunity. People seem to have confidence that they could engage in such acts and that the arm of the law would not reach them, Opposition Leader R Sampanthan said in Parliament yesterday.

Seconding the Adjournment Motion moved by Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Sampanthan urged the law enforcement authorities to pull up their socks and ensure that all citizens of the country are treated equally.

He pointed out despite the fact that the Police station in Ampara was not very far from the eatery where the incident took place, the offenders managed to get away from the scene after damaging the property.

“Taking action after the incident is not sufficient. The role of the law the enforcement authorities called into serious question. I also suppose that such incidents happening intermittently and frequently, have a deeper dimension to it than just a law and order matter. We need a change in the system of governance in the country to ensure that all people are treated equally. We need to bring in necessary amendments for that purpose. At present, people of a particular community have the feeling that they are superior and that the other persons are second class citizens. This must be eradicated. I think it is the primary cause of this trouble,” he commented.

“What is the point of having four-five ministers of a particular community in your government when the people they represent are not safe in this country,” he questioned pointing at Muslim ministers.

He pointed out that the country, which was already grappling with so many issues including the human rights allegations and debt ridden economy, needs to stop moving backwards and do the right thing at the right time.

Racism based tribal political culture being developed

A tribal political culture based on racism is being developed in the country, said Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in Parliament yesterday.

He also said that racism was being sown by those who are in power to remain in power and by the losers to usurp power. He asserted that the brutal tribalism that spread hatred among communities for power, should be defeated.

He made these observations yesterday, joining the Adjournment Debate in Parliament that discussed the prevailing tense situation between communities in the country at the moment.

He also pointed out that the JVP struggled to build national unity. But it has not been able to achieve it. "Instead, racism and tribalism had dominated politics," MP Dissanayake said. "The Sinhala - Muslim conflict would create only two rival communities making neither safe."

He pointed out that these incidents did not take place spontaneously so tribalism should be defeated.

Govt back peddling on its commitments:Sumanthiran

Over 90 percent of those in the majority community are peace lovers and are disgusted by the recent incidents of violence, TNA M A Sumanthiran said.

Speaking at the Adjournment Debate in Parliament yesterday, the MP pointed out that when the people elected a new leader and a new government into office on January 8, 2015, they thought the culture of impunity prevailing in the country would change and that people would be able to live peaceful lives.

“This sentiment had been shattered as the Government continues the same attitude as previously held. The government in power has the feeling that they must pander to extremist elements and go soft on them. However, the majority community does not expect this kind of mayhem to continue. The Government is back peddling on its commitments in fear of losing its popularity. After the LG polls results, the Government has gone into a shell. It is not able to stand up and do the right thing. If this goes on like this, there would never be a change. The fundamental belief that one must pander to extremist elements must change if other communities are to be able to live with dignity,” he stressed.

“I compliment the sentiments expressed by MP Anura Dissanayake in the House today and that kind of spine seems to be lacking in the Government. If you can’t stand up for the right thing and for the various communities that are numerically inferior, you have no right to govern the country,” he told Government members.

Delimitation Report on Provincial Councils presented to Parliament

Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha yesterday, presented the Delimitation Report on Provincial Councils in Parliament.

Presenting the report at the outset of sittings, the minister referred it to the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Internal Administration and Public Management.

The report would be put forward for debate at a future date which has to be approved by a two third majority in Parliament.

The Delimitation Committee comprised of Kanagaratnam Thavalingam (Chairman), retired Surveyor General, Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranaike, retired Assistant Governor of the Central Bank, Professor S.H. Hisbullah, Prof. Sangara Wijeyasandiran and retired Assistant Elections Commissioner Premathilaka Siriwardena presented the report to the Minister on February 19.

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