October 23, 2019

Mahinda reiterates concerns on Geneva resolution

Rajapaksa says the people should be vigilant about what some powerful forces are trying to achieve by jailing Sri Lanka’s war heroes, sacking through an administrative process those who cannot be jailed, and breaking the back of this nation. (Colombo Gazette) Rajapaksa says if the Geneva resolution is implemented, the countries that sponsored resolutions against Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council, will be the same countries that provide funding for the judicial mechanisms set up under that resolution and who provide the judges, prosecutors, investigators and lawyers to man those mechanisms. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today reiterated his concerns over the resolution on Sri Lanka adopted at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva recently.Rajapaksa told members of the clergy at the Abeyrama Temple that there are many dangerous operative paragraphs in the resolution, three of which are the most serious and unacceptable. “If the laws are amended as envisaged to punish our war heroes, one of the unintended consequences of that will be the opening up of the Sri Lankan legal profession to foreigners even without CEPA. If however, the law is changed only to punish our war heroes and after all the war heroes are jailed the laws are amended once again to restore the status quo ante, then it will become obvious to the people that this government amended the law only to punish our war heroes. That is not an acceptable situation at all,” he said. “The involvement of foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators and lawyers implies the creation of a new criminal justice system parallel to the existing one. I am totally opposed to any such arrangement.  I regard that very suggestion to be an insult to our courts system, legal profession, Attorney General’s Department and investigative bodies,” he added.He also said that through operative paragraph 8 of the Geneva resolution, the government has already agreed to remove from office members of the army suspected of having committed human rights violations through an ‘administrative process’ even if there is no evidence against him that can be placed before a court of law. Rajapaksa says the government has co-sponsored the Geneva resolution without considering its implications and without informing parliament and appraising the people about it.“The laws will be changed in this manner for the sole purpose of punishing our war heroes. Changing the constitution itself to punish the war heroes who brought an end to terrorism which had been stalking this land for forty years and which embroiled the country in a raging internal war for 30 years is a dastardly act.  People belonging to all communities are now able to live in peace in this country because of the sacrifices made by our war heroes,” he added.He also noted that one of the matters under discussion in Sri Lanka with regard to the CEPA agreement with India was the provision made for Indian professionals of all categories including lawyers to work in Sri Lanka. “According to operative paragraph 6 of the Geneva resolution the government has agreed to establish a judicial mechanism to try war crimes. They have also agreed to the participation of foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators and lawyers in that judicial mechanism. What this means in effect is the setting up of an entirely new parallel criminal justice system in this country outside the existing system. According to operative paragraph 4 of the Geneva resolution, the Sri Lankan government has already agreed to allow these mechanisms that are to be set up to ‘deal with the past’ to obtain financial assistance from foreign countries. What this means is that the mechanisms that will be set up to look into allegations of war crimes and other matters will be paid for and maintained by the Western powers,” he said. read more

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Making a Big Move to support local cancer care

After two of her closest friends were stricken with cancer, Ethna Bernat witnessed the difficult road to recovery.In a show of unity and support, the Brock employee was part of a group that banded together to drive the two friends to Hamilton for frequent treatments.“For one of my friends, it was an awful and painful process to get him there and back every single time,” said the associate administrative director in the Faculty of Education’s Concurrent Programs.It was an experience that resonated with Bernat, who has since thrown her support into a fundraiser benefiting Niagara’s local cancer centre.She is one of several Brock employees riding with the Brock Cyclones in the Big Move Cancer Ride on Sept. 9 at Club Roma in St. Catharines. The non-competitive cycling event features a 25-kilometre, 50-km or 100-km route. Proceeds from the fundraiser will support patients of the Walker Family Cancer Centre in St. Catharines with diagnostic care, treatment and education.Bernat stressed that people don’t need to be avid cyclists to join the event.“The first time I joined the Big Move was also the first time I had ever done a ride like this,” she said. “I did 50 kilometres on my old little mountain bike. I didn’t have a road bike or any special equipment. I still don’t have clips and pedals. I wasn’t fast, but I did it.”Karen Dancy, International Recruitment Officer in International Market Development, will be riding in event for the first time. She’ll be tackling her first 100-km route in honour of three of her grandparents who passed away from cancer.“There’s a statistic that says 2,500 people in Niagara are diagnosed with cancer every year — that really impacted me,” she said.This will be Elna Mayberry’s ninth time participating in the ride. The scheduling assistant in the Office of the Registrar said she cycles the 100-km route for the sweet treats given out along the way. “One of the volunteers makes the most delicious chocolate chip cookies every year. She’s usually at the 75-km support station, but I would ride 200 kilometres for her cookies,” she said.Support stations set up along each of the three route options will include snacks, music, water, portable washrooms and people cheering. A pasta lunch with salad and meatballs is served after the ride.“The event isn’t timed, so even if you don’t need a break you stop anyways,” said Mayberry. “I like to thank and chat with the volunteers I haven’t seen since last year. Plus the route is simply gorgeous. It’s nice to stop to take it all in.”Josh Sekel, Senior Project Manager and IT Consultant with Enterprise Solutions, has been cycling the 100-km route for three years and has raised more than $10,000. Last year, he was inducted into the Platinum Peddlers’ Club, which recognizes fundraisers who have gone above and beyond.“It’s 90 per cent thanks to Brock employees. The community is always so supportive of the event,” he said.Team Captain Karl Thorp, Senior Platoon Supervisor, and John Suk, former Chair of the Brock University Board of Trustees, are also part of the Platinum Peddlers’ Club. It was under Thorp’s leadership as team captain in 2016 that the Brock Cyclones were also inducted into the club, having collectively raised more than $50,000 over the years.There’s still time to join or donate to the Brock Cyclones. The event is also in need of volunteers. Visit the Big Move Cancer Ride website for more information.For those interested in easing into a longer ride than they’re used to, guided training rides take place at Rockway Community Centre in Lincoln every Thursday night. read more

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