Tagged in: Fiona

BASL goes to court over impeachment

Some international rights groups have expressed concern over the impeachment. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, has urged Sri Lanka to “reconsider” the motion and ensure that proper due process is carried out. (Xinhua) The chief justice had denied all the allegations including not declaring over bank accounts and misuse of power against her.The chief justice came under criticism by the government after her ruling against a bill that sought wider power for Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The BASL which represents all the lawyers in the country and part of the judges said that the PSC on Thursday refused to accede to request of the Supreme Court to postpone the probe until a constitutional interpretation is given on the impeachment procedure. The policy making body of 11,000 lawyers of Sri Lanka said Wednesday that they went to the Supreme Court challenging the impeachment of country’s first female chief justice.The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) had filed an action against the Speaker of the Parliament and 11-member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake on 14 charges, the Bar President Wijedasa Rajapaksa said. In its fundamental rights action, the Bar Association has asked the Supreme Court to issue an immediate order to stay further proceedings of the impeachment as it violates the fundamental rights of the legal fraternity and of the citizens of Sri Lanka. read more

Gaza as hostilities resume Ban urges swift return to ceasefire negotiations

“The Secretary-General expresses his deep disappointment that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire in their talks in Cairo,” said a statement issued by a UN spokesperson in New York.Media reports suggest that Palestinian militants in Gaza refused to extend a ceasefire that has held for the past three days and resumed rocket fire into Israel. As a result Israeli air strikes on the enclave reportedly began earlier this morning.“[The Secretary-General] condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable,” said the statement from the UN chief’s spokesperson. Mr. Ban urged the parties to swiftly find a way back to respect of the humanitarian ceasefire and to continue negotiations in Cairo to reach a durable ceasefire.“The extension of the ceasefire is absolutely essential for talks to progress and to address the underlying issues of the crisis as soon as possible,” continued the statement, adding that the Secretary-General firmly calls on the parties not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already “appalling” humanitarian situation in Gaza.Meanwhile on the ground, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, during the 72 hour ceasefire, aid agencies began to assess needs and stepped up the delivery of urgently needed relief.Humanitarian needs remain enormous, with the provision of fresh food and drinkable water the most pressing, according to OCHA.During the pause, rescue teams were able to retrieved additional bodies, bringing the cumulative death toll of Palestinians to 1,922, of whom 1,407 are believed to be civilians and 448 of those were identified as children. More than 9,500 people have been injured. OCHA’s latest situation report also states that 67 Israelis have been killed in the month-long conflict, including 64 soldiers, and three civilians, including one foreign national.The number of people displaced by the violence remains fluid; as of last night, nearly 200,000 people were sheltering in 119 UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and government schools (166,000 of them in 90 UNRWA shelters).The UN says that preliminary estimates indicate that some 65,000 people whose homes were totally destroyed or heavily damaged need urgent support, including basic household items. The ceasefire allowed for some repairs of critical electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure by local authorities.The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat food rations every day to 330,000 people sheltered in UNRWA and government schools. Some 46,000 household kits have been distributed since the beginning of the conflict.In addition, UNRWA continues to distribute water to emergency shelters and their Community Mental Health Programme has provided psychosocial support to 73,000 parents and conducted recreational activities for 79,000 children. read more