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  • රාජ්‍ය අමාත්‍ය පියල් නිශාන්තට කොරෝනා
    (බිමල් ශ්‍යාමන් ජයසිංහ)         කාන්තා හා ළමා සංවර්ධන පෙර පාසල්, ප්‍රාථමික අධ්‍යාපන පාසල් යටිතල පහසුකම් හා අධ්‍යාපන සේවා රාජ්‍ය අමාත්‍ය පියල් නිශාන්ත මහතාට, බිරිඳට‍ සහ දරුවාට ද  කොරෝනා වයිරසය ආසාදිත වී ඇති බවට අද(18) තහවුරු වූ බව කළුතර සෞඛ්‍ය විද්‍යාතනයේ ප්‍රකාශකයෙක් පැවසීය.

    කළුතර දිස්ත්‍රික් ලේකම් කාර්යාලයේ සහකාර අධ්‍යක්ෂකවරයෙකුට ...
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  • State Minister Piyal Nishantha contracts COVID-19
    Women and Child Development State Minister Piyal Nishantha tested COVID-19 positive, the State Minister confirmed. Publishing a post on his official Facebook page, the State Minister said he has been infected with the virus and added that he would follow the instructions given by the health authorities. “I also request those who came into contact with me in last few days, to take necessary steps and precaution as per the guideline given by health officials,” he said in the post. He was confirmed to have been infected with the virus following a rapid antigen test. Piyal Nishantha was also seen in the occasion held on January 14 to declare open Southeast Asia’s largest tyre manufacturing facility at Wagawatta in Horana, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and several Ministers and State Ministers were present. Ministers Rohitha Abeygunawardena,...
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  • SL human rights situation seriously deteriorated under Gotabaya’s Govt.: Report shows
    Sri Lanka’s human rights situation has seriously deteriorated under the administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2021.

    Government security forces have increased intimidation and surveillance of human rights activists, victims of past abuses, lawyers, and journalists. Minority Muslim and Tamil communities have faced discrimination and threats. The government pushed through passage of a constitutional amendment that undermines judicial independence and weakens oversight institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. In February, Sri Lanka withdrew its commitments to the 2015 United Nations Human Rights Council for truth-seeking, accountability, and reconciliation following the country’s long civil war.

    “The Rajapaksa administration has quickly reversed...
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  • Politics Behind Muslim Burial

    Dr. Ameer Ali No scientist or epidemiologist anywhere in the world has so far proved with solid evidence that corona virus would spread from buried corona-killed corpses. Only in Sri Lanka a so-called committee of health experts belonging to the establishment, expressed an opinion that because of high water level in the ground that virus has the potential to spread, if those died from it are buried. Hence, they recommended indiscriminate cremation hitting directly at religious sensitivity of Muslims. No amount of protest from local Muslims or from Muslim organizations abroad, and not even advice from WHO to the contrary could convince President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to relent. The President maintains that unless the experts committee shows the green light he will not budge. This is...
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  • හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්නලා බිල්ලා මවනවා
    (යොහාන් භාසුර)   ශානි අබේසේකර සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වැනි පුද්ගලයන් පෙන්වා බිල්ලන් මවා ජාතිවාදය වපුරවමින් රට විනාශ නොකරන ලෙස සමඟ ජනබලවේග මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පාර්ලිමේන්තු විවාදයට එක්වෙමින් පැවසීය.  එහිදී මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේ ද පැවසීය.

    “ශානි අබේසේකර, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්වලා මේ...
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  • CID dont produce Hizbullah , say positive for Covid 19
    The Criminal Invesitgations Department which were scheduled to produce detained Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah this afternoon before the Fort magistrate , did not produce him and informed court that he had been tested positive for Covid 19. Mr. Hizbullahs wife , attorneys and the Court were informed by officers of the CID that he would be produced today at 2. 00 PM at the Fort Magistrates court. Officers of the CID informed court staff that they intend producing Hizbullah following which Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage had made order that the case be taken up at 2. 00 PM today. The news of production came after Mr. Romesh De Silva PC supported a writ application for lawyers access and made representations on behalf of Mr. Hizbullah. Earlier a writ application was filed before the court of appeal seeking access to detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah...
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  • Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers
    On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran made some terse remarks given the limited time allotted to him.
    He justified the need for an international inquiry and international judicial process to look into serious crimes committed in this country which has an impact on international law. In order to drive home his point, he alluded to several instances and, euphemistically made reference to the “depths to which your judicial system has sunk”. As a recent example he cited Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah, an Attorney at Law who is currently in detention. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran said, “a brilliant young lawyer denied justice for eight months. All kinds of false allegations were made against him.”  Further, he drew attention to the fact that...
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  • To Burn Or To Bury? The Deadly Question
    To burn or to bury? That has become the bedeviling Covid-19 question in Sri Lanka with no respect for the dead and no empathy for those who are left to mourn. According to WHO guidelines, Covid-19 victim’s bodies are not infectious, unless other complications are involved – such as hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg) or cholera. In general, dead bodies themselves are not infectious, but body fluids are and they secrete even after death. So, there is universal insistence on and compliance with the protocols for handing dead bodies, not only by funeral workers but also by families. But the question, whether cremation or burial, is a redundant question and it has been unnecessarily overwrought. But only in Sri Lanka, and chiefly by the  government itself.

    For perspective, there have been public protests against cremating Covid-19...
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  • Behind The Muslim Burial Issue
    By Ameer Ali –

    In no country in the world except Sri Lanka and perhaps its “predator” ally China that Muslims are cremated when they die because of Covid-19; and no epidemiologist, virologist or medical expert in the world except the chief health officer in Sri Lanka believes that Corona virus would spread if the victims are buried. This officer spuriously justified his stand on the ground that the underground water level in the country is too high. His argument, backed by a so-called soil scientist, Meththika Vithanage from Jayawardenapura University, who wrote, “break the ground and infect us all”, has now been accepted as heavenly truth by sections of local Buddhist clergy, members of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga and Rajapaksa’s government. Allowing burial for Muslims is to bury the regime itself, said one such...
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  • අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ
    අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ (සිරංගිකා ලොකුකරවිට)
    ගාල්ල දෙද්දුගොඩ ප්‍රදේශයේ පදිංචිව සිටිය දී කොරෝනා ආසාදනය වීමෙන් මියගිය පුද්ගලයාගේ මළ සිරුරු ආදාහනය නොකර ශීතාගාරයක තබන ලෙස ගාල්ල අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත් පවිත්‍රා සංජීවනී පතිරණ මත්මිය අද (21) නියෝග කළාය. අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය මෙම නියෝගය කළේ, එම...
    Read More...
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Hejaaz Hizbullah, The Shining Young Attorney Held Incommunicado By Mass L. Usuf

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The dreaded Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA) has been in public discussion ever since it was enacted. It was initially introduced in Parliament as ‘Temporary Provisions’ vide Section 29 of the Act which read:

“The provisions of this Act shall be in operation for a period of three years from the date of its commencement.”
Thereafter, this Temporary Provision paradoxically found a permanent abode, approximating four decades, by virtue of an amendment; “Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Amendment Act, No. 10 of 1982. It now reads:

“Section 29 of the principal enactment is hereby repealed.”

Widely condemned as an equivalent of Draco’s law, this statute was passed under the watch of the JR Jayewardene Presidency. It was specifically designed to confer on the police wide powers relating to search, arrest and detention of suspects. United Nations and International Human Rights organisations have been campaigning for long calling the State to institute reforms to this abusive Act.

This column should not be construed as an effort or campaign supporting Hejaz or any others who had been arrested at different times since 1979.

Rule Of Law Or Rule By Law

 

Sri Lanka is known to be a democratic country. In keeping with that spirit, she has inter alia, judicial institutions, where it is ideally expected that the rule of law Supremes. At a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law on 19 September 2012, it reaffirmed that “human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations.” The diktat is for world governments to ensure that accountability, equality and justice are upheld and promoted in order to protect and secure the rights of citizens. These comprise the utilitarian aspects of strengthening democracy.

Sri Lanka has showcased its idea of the rule of law in Chapter III of the constitution, dedicating it to Fundamental Rights. The universal norm is that no law can supersede the Constitution of the country. It is said, ‘The judiciary, which applies the law to individual cases, acts as the guardian of the rule of law. Thus, the need for an independent and properly functioning judiciary becomes a prerequisite for the rule of law which requires a just legal system, the right to a fair hearing and access to justice.’

Consequence Of Rule By Law

Statutes, Rules and Regulations, executive actions and policies of a government must be regimented to function under the rule of law. Where there is unconstrained substantive or procedural abuse disregarding law such exploits cease to be governed by this precept. In these instances, the doctrine of rule of law dissipates giving way to the repressive and cruel rule by law. The beginning of abuse is from this point.

In the background of the aforesaid, to quote a dictum from the British Legal Philosopher, H.L.A. Hart is appropriate. It illustrates the timeless limbo of persons like Hejaaz Hizbullah and the many others who have been incarcerated under the dreaded PTA, at different times:

“A paralysed man watching a thief’s hand close over his gold watch is properly said to have a right to retain it as against the thief, though he has neither expectation nor power in any ordinary sense of these words.” (Hart, Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy, 1983).

Hart using the analogy of a paralytic draws attention to the condition of a person who has a right but cannot expect to assert that right and, the same person having no power to proclaim his right. How many such ‘paralysed’ persons are languishing in custody? The distressed family members are asking where are the democratic minded citizens who are supposed to act to strengthen equity and justice?

Communication, A Basic Right

This column does not intend to traverse the gamut of the right to communicate. It would suffice to suggest a few markers to get an understanding.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (United Nations, 1948).

Our Constitution, 14. (1) (a), states:

“Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech and expression including publication”.

This is a restricted right by virtue of Article 15 (7) (2) of the Constitution:

“The exercise and operation of the fundamental right declared and recognized by Article 14(1)(a) shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed by law in the interests of racial and religious harmony or in relation to parliamentary privilege, contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.”

It is clear as daylight that this restriction does not contemplate a situation where a detainee wants to consult with his or her Attorney.

Role of the Judiciary

It is well known, at least theoretically, that the pillars of democracy consist of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary and the strict separation of their functions. The objective is to ensure proper checks and balances and to prevent the concentration of power. Due to novel developments in the political landscape, there has evolved hybrid versions of this foundation. For example, the separation of powers has significantly become diluted between the legislature and the executive. It is only the judiciary that has been able to stand alone and maintain its independence although, several attempts have been made in the past to inhibit its authority.

At the Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union conference held in Helsinki in September 2019, much emphasis was placed on the protection of the rule of law with special responsibility placed on the judiciary. It resolved:

“Rule of law is the cornerstone of all democratic societies. A proper system of checks and balances maintains the separation of powers, ensures accountability and enhances resilience. In order to maintain trust in public institutions, the principles of legality, legal certainty, prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers, judicial independence, impartiality, and equality before the law need to be respected. The role of national and European courts is crucial for ensuring effective judicial protection.”

Animal Rights

With regard to the Rights of Animals, Mahatma Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” Interestingly, he juxtaposes the way animals are treated as a measurement of value to judge the greatness and moral progress of a nation. What characteristics of a nation can be judged based on the way humans are treated?

The rights of freedom and liberty of any person are too sacred to be sacrificed at the drop of a hat. American Jurist Ronald Dworkin argues, “If someone has a right to moral independence, this means that it is for some reason wrong for officials to act in violation of that right, even if they (correctly) believe that the community as a whole would be better off if they did.” (Lloyds Jurisprudence, 6th Edition, P. 434).

At a time when man is being silenced by man, it is strange to see and hear some people talking in the following terms, as seen in a poster with a picture of a dog:

“Animals have no voice.

They can’t ask for help.

They can’t ask for freedom.

They can’t ask for protection.

HUMANITY MUST BE THEIR VOICE.”

How confused can we be between the imperatives of treating animals and human beings? It is ironic to note that in Sri Lanka, we are excessively worried about the rights of animals than the rights of human beings.

State Of Limbo Unethical

Hejaz and many others who are under detention, most of them without the due process of law, also deserve this Voice Of Humanity. Apparently, the voice of humanity for the welfare of the humans themselves, seems pathetically lost or hypocritically ignored! Apart from the voice of humanity, it is the duty of the government to treat its subject with equality and concern.

The writer is clearly not campaigning for Hejaz or, for the others in custody under the PTA, that they are innocent. If they are found guilty by a court of law, let them be punished.The emphasis of this column is that suspects should be handled in accordance with the laid down legal procedures. Apply the rule of law and avoid rule by law. Arbitrary actions are prohibited even under international law. Sri Lanka is an unconditional signatory to many international instruments protecting equality in multiple fields. See, Right to equality: The new frontier of judicial activism, by Deepika Udagama.

The Geneva based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) in its monitoring guidelines on detention centers, states:

“Depriving a person of his or her liberty is a serious coercive act by the State, with inherent risks of human rights abuses. Through the loss of liberty, the detained person comes to depend almost entirely on the authorities and public officials to guarantee his or her protection, rights, and means of existence. The possibilities for persons deprived of their liberty to influence their own fate are limited, if not non-existent.”

Never Deprive

Neither does acceptance of the right of a person make that person noble nor does non-acceptance make that person ignoble. The basic rights of a person are intrinsic to his self as a person and is deep-rooted in the nucleus of his naturally endowed liberty. He should never be deprived of it by arbitrary action or the denial of justice but by the due process of the law.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/hejaaz-hizbullah-the-shining-young-attorney-held-incommunicado/

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