Head of Ministry Legal branch ‘uncontested’

The vacancy for the head of the legal branch of the External Affairs Ministry has been filled without it being advertised.

Attorney-at-Law Thushantha Wijemanna has been appointed to the post with effect from Friday. Director General- Administration, H.G.U. Pushpakumara contacted by the Sunday Times, confirmed that the post was not advertised, but declined to comment on the process of selection.He said that the post for Legal officer, however, had been advertised.

Disciplinary action against TNA councillor for hurling water bottle during argument

Disciplinary action is to be taken against TNA Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) member Mudiyappu Remedius over an incident during the council meeting this week, where, in an argument with his own party members, he threw a water bottle.

TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah said that the party will take disciplinary action against Remedius, while Mayor Yogeswari Patkunarasa said that the council would also take disciplinary action against him.
Last Thursday, TNA member and human rights lawyer Mudiyappu Remedius, in a speech, spoke against a newspaper, when two other TNA members Kanagaratnam Vinthan and S. Paranjothy argued with Remedius. Remedius had then thrown a mineral water bottle at Paranjothy.

All the other members of the JMC, both UPFA and TNA, requested Remedius to apologise; but he refused. JMC is controlled by the UPFA, while the TNA is the main opposition.

IOM programmes support rehabilitation of LTTE cadres

By Priyath Wijewardena

The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) is supporting a range of programmes that enables former LTTE cadres to re-enter society. Chief of Mission- IOM, Richard Danziger said that the organization has given jobs, training and other forms of support to a number of LTTE cadres.

He said that the cadres mainly want support in vocational training, formal education and in starting some sort of business.

Giving numbers, he said, 146 cadres followed programmes in vocational training and formal education while 18 found jobs. IOM also helped more than 400 businesses to expand and helped start more than 1000 new businesses.

He said these programmes in the North and the East were started in 2009 and would probably continue until end of 2012. Mr. Danziger said the programmes have a budget of $15 million with UK, US and the Netherlands providing funds

He also said that the IOM has offices in Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Jaffna, and Batticaloa for this purpose and outreach programmes in Trincomalee and Mannar.

Surrender arms or face arrest: Army to armed groups

After grace period troops will open fire at armed cadres

The army has issued an ultimatum to all armed groups operating in the Eastern Province (EP) to surrender unauthorised weapons in their possession, or face arrest. The warning has been issued by Security Forces Commander for the East, Maj. Gen. Boniface Perera, in the wake of a series of armed robberies including this week’s bank heist in Batticaloa town.

Maj. Gen. Perera had issued the warning to members of Tamil political groups operating in the EP, during a meeting he had summoned to discuss the latest security measures in the province on Friday.
He said that, after a ‘short period’, if the unauthorised weapons are not surrendered, the army and the police will be ordered to take action against those holding weapons, including those moving around with these weapons.

“The army will be ordered to open fire at those carrying weapons”, Maj. Gen. Perera said. The Tamil parties summoned for the meeting were the TMVP, TELO, PLOTE, EROS, EPDP and the EPRLF (Pathmanabha Wing). The meeting was also attended by representatives of private and State banks, as well as representatives of Traders.

He warned that he would not allow ransom demands and armed robberies in the area.

Navy launches bottled water project

With a view to providing clean drinking water, the Sri Lanka Navy has launched a bottled drinking water project at Andankulam in Trincomalee. Director General- Naval Health Services, Admiral N.W. Jayasekera declared the project open on June 24. The first bottle of water, under the brand name “Blue Water”, was presented to Ven. Ahungalle Sri Dharmavinaya, at the Buddhist centre .

New Police chief assumes duties tomorrow

N. K. Illangakoon assumes duties tomorrow as the country’s 33rd Inspector General of Police (IGP).
A native of Pinnawala, Balangoda, the Deputy Inspector General was born on April 12, 1956, and studied at the Udagama Maha Vidyalaya in Balangoda. He represented his school in all-island athletic competitions, and was a member of several school societies. He entered the University of Colombo in 1974, and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Education Degree.

Mr. Illangkoon joined the Police Department as a Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1982. His first appointment was as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in charge of the Kurunegala district.

N. K. Illangakoon

He was one of the pioneer officers who helped set up the Police Special Task Force, in 1983. He served in Jaffna, Ampara and Batticaloa as Area Commander and Coordinating Officer of the Moneragala district. He was the first Deputy Commandant of the Special Task Force.

Mr. Illangakoon was promoted to the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in 1994, and after serving as officer in charge of the Anuradhapura and Gampaha divisions, he was appointed as the Director Special Branch in 1999, and promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police.

In his capacity as DIG, Mr. Illangakoon has served in several positions, including DIG in charge of the Western Province (North), Ministerial Security Division, Presidential Security Division, and Crime Range. He was promoted to the rank of Senior DIG in 2006, and has since held several positions, including Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province, Support Services, Crimes Range and Narcotics Bureau Range, Discipline and Conduct, and Transport and Communication. He has served twice as Acting Inspector General of Police.

Mr. Illangakoon has followed special training courses in Sri Lanka and overseas, including in India, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Italy and the US. He has a postgraduate diploma in Criminal Justice and Police Management from the University of Leicester, in the UK.

He has received several medals in recognition of his 29 years of service to the Police Department. These include the Police Bravery Medal, the Deshaputhra Medal, the Poornabhoomi Medal, the Police Meritorious Medal, the Golden Jubilee of Independence Medal, the 125th Police Anniversary Medal, and First Aid Medal.

He is married to Neepa Sarangi Gunadheera, and they have a son, Helika Udarendra Illangakoon, who is a senior student at Royal College, Colombo.

Workers’ federation adds to chorus against stifling labour rights

IMF urges Govt. to comply with international labour laws

The International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) this week joined several other global trade unions in calling on the government for an end to the repression of workers’ rights in the country.

The IMF which boasts a membership of some 25 million workers throughout the world has strongly condemned the May 30 incident at the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Katunayake where a 22 year old factory hand was shot dead by police during a protest against the proposed Private Pension Scheme, which has since been put on hold.

In a letter addressed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, IMF chief Jyrika Raina has urged the government to fully comply with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on Freedom of Association and on collective bargaining.

It also called up the government to put an immediate end to any acts of repressions of workers and to act in accordance with international labour and human rights standards. Earlier the world’s single largest trade union grouping - the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) put out a similar warning to the government, adding that future developments involving the welfare of workers in the country will be closely monitored.

In a letter to the government the ITUC had urged the immediate withdrawal of the Employees’ Pension Benefit Fund Bill, establish a full, independent and immediate investigation into the incidents with a special provision to investigate the behaviour of the police, ensure compensation and job security to the victims of the excessive police violence and render impossible this kind of police harassment in the future.

Another global union - the Building Workers International (BWI) had also written to the government expressing concern over the recent incidents and attempts to stifle the legitimate rights of the workers.
Meanwhile in a related development a group of 10 factory hands at the FTZ filed separate fundamental rights applications in the Supreme Court earlier this week, Anton Marcus, Joint Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) said.

Picture tells it all on cigarette pack

Lanka drags on warnings on harmful effects of smoking

By Chanaka de Silva

“Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs are the best way to get the message across of the harmful effects of smoking,” said Tobacco and Alcohol National Authority Chairman Dr. Carlo Fonseka.

Speaking at a function held by the Jeewaka Foundation in Colombo last week, to highlight the importance of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs he said, “Several countries in the region have already adopted this and reaped the benefits in record time. Sri Lanka has still not imposed the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, though the negative effects of smoking is only too evident in the country”.

Passive smoking has been identified to have far reaching consequences and also third-hand smoking is also now known to be as damaging to a person’s health. The latest threat recognised as third-hand smoking is when a person occupies a place or space previously occupied by a smoker, where the residual effects of smoking have been known to affect others. It has been found that 39% of the population are smokers of whom 2.6% are women.

At the ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’ conference held in 2005, Sri Lanka was the first Asian and the fourth country in the world to ratify the agreement. However, since then, though several countries have implemented the agreement, Sri Lanka is one of 114 countries not implementing the agreement.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Samadi Rajapakse of the Maharagama Cancer Hospital said, “We have achieved some small victories with having the sale of cigarettes banned to minors and the banning of smoking within enclosed public places. However, with pictorial warnings in place, we can reduce the numbers further. Pack warnings have been known to give almost instant results.” He further said that, the implementation of this is in abeyance as drafting the related regulation has been held up at the Legal Draughtsman’s office since 2009. Though this has to be implemented through the Ministry of Health, certain officers believe that pictorial warnings on cigarette packs are not effective as claimed to be, he said.

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