GTF calls for victimcentric approach in Sri Lanka

The GTF finds it disconcerting, considering Sri Lanka has just taken the positive step of co-sponsoring the HRC Resolution 40/1. GTF notes the merits of the UNHRC processes, the disappointments expressed by most countries regarding the pace of progress, and the failure to date to make real impact on individual victims and their families did not deserve any mention.“The core of the argument presented by Foreign Minister Marapana at the Human Rights Council centred on the Supreme Court resolving the constitutional crisis late last year and how that is giving credence to the independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary. The peaceful resolution of that crisis is welcome, and it indicates improvement from previous years in the objectivity of the Supreme Court when it concerns constitutional matters. However, the Sri Lankan judiciary and other key institutions administering justice on serious crimes committed during the war, perhaps with the connivance of some who were associated with the government, is altogether a different proposition,” GTF said. The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has called for a victim-centric approach in Sri Lanka to address allegations related to the war.In a statement today, the GTF said that comments made by the Sri Lankan delegates at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 40th session and again within a week after returning from Geneva are highly disappointing. Speaking in the Sri Lankan Parliament after the passing of the Resolution 40/1, the Foreign Minister again ruled out the possibility for foreign judges, saying “Without legislation, we cannot have foreign judges sitting in our judicial system deciding the capability of our citizens. Even if we bring in such legislation, the Supreme Court will strike it down.”GTF says while the Foreign Minister’s constitutional interpretation has been questioned by many, the Minister was oblivious to the fact that Sri Lanka co-sponsored the UNHRC resolutions three times, and the resolutions unambiguously specified the importance of including “Commonwealth and other foreign judges” in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, not as mere observers or advisers, but in full judicial capacity.“It is an undisputable fact that ten years after the end of the war, not a single family affected by enforced disappearance has been able to ascertain the truth, or received justice or reparation, and no one has been punished for the war crimes committed. Even in the emblematic cases such as – the killings of 5 students in Trincomalee; the massacre of 17 aid workers in Muttur (both in 2006); and the murder of the high-profile journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge (2009) – there has been no judicial outcome more than a decade after,” GTF said. GTF says if the past is of any indication, there is not a single case or outcome to support the independence and impartiality of the judiciary when serious cases of human rights violations are heard – particularly when the perpetrators are security forces and those linked to the establishment, and the victims are Tamils. “The statements dealing exclusively with macho nationalism and inviolable sovereignty; constitutional scapegoats; and even misrepresentation about private meetings with high-ranking OHCHR officials were clearly aimed at pacifying the Sinhala hard-line elements,” GTF said. The diaspora group says credible international participation is vital in any worthy judicial process. GTF says insisting continuously on a purely domestic court and judges will only lead to increased calls for an international judicial mechanism to address criminal accountability. (Colombo Gazette) read more

BBC writer complains about Amazon streaming drama worldwide

The writer of the BBC’s successful drama A Very English Scandal has complained that the drama is being screened worldwide by the “tax-dodging b——-” Amazon.The mini-series, which starred Hugh Grant as the disgraced Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, was first shown on the BBC last year but is now available globally via the US streaming service – to the fury of its writer, Russell T Davies.“A Very English Scandal went out on Amazon [because] they came in with money afterwards,” he said. “I have problems with that because they’re tax-dodging b——- and I’m not remotely happy having gone out on their network. I’m serious. Every company has some fingers in some stinking pies, but Amazon absolutely doesn’t pay its taxes on a vast scale and I do object to that.“Hospitals should be built out of what they should be giving us and there’d still be a profit. It’s so wrong.”Amazon’s UK logistics arm paid just £4.6 million in corporation tax in the year ending December 2017, despite its operating profit growing to £79 million. The company’s tax arrangements are entirely legal but it is regularly criticised. It has previously said that it pays “all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Davies’ new BBC One project is Years and Years, a drama starring Emma Thompson as a populist politician. It is likely to prove controversial, set in a near future in which Donald Trump threatens nuclear war against China.The writer said the BBC had placed no limits on what he could say about the US president.“They knew what they were getting – a bold and risky piece,” he said. “Actually, they knew it couldn’t be any madder than the real world.”Years and Years begins on May 14. The nightmarish political events are seen through the eyes of one family in Manchester.Read the full Russell T Davies interview from Saturday at 0700 read more