Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008
Court overrules submission to transfer Tissainayagam to prison

By T. Farook ThajudeenThe Colombo Chief Magistrate, yesterday, made order to continue the detention of journalist J.S.S. Tissainayagam, V. Jesiheren and Valarmadi Vaduvel with the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).The magistrate in his order stated that the suspects were detained by the TID on detention orders of the Defence Secretary, and produced before in court on the pleadings of the suspects’ counsel, and court had no jurisdiction to make order to remand them in prison.On May 5 they were not produced in court, and the TID had informed court that they were taken away for some investigations. Accordingly the case was called on June 26, and the suspects were produced in court on that day. They were produced in court on that day on the application of the suspects’ counsel made on June 23.On that day the seventh suspect’s counsel had complained that the fifth suspect had been tortured at the TID. The court ordered the TID to produce the suspect before the JMO for examination and report. The TID were also ordered to file a report.The suspects’ counsel had subsequently brought to the attention of the court the Emergency Regulations of August 13, 2008, and submitted that detaining them with the TID was illegal since 90 days had already elapsed. Even under a valid detention order the question arises about the place of detention, he said.The magistrate stated the question before the court was whether court had jurisdiction to remand them in prisonThere is no jurisdiction for the magistrate to release the suspect without the Attorney General’s consent, according to the provisions of Bail Act, although the magistrate has the jurisdiction to enlarge suspects in bail when a suspect was detained for 90 days. If the OIC is of the opinion that the suspect should be released, the OIC is empowered to do soOn the lapse of 90 days, if the OIC is not continuing the investigating, the suspect should be produced in court for the court to make appropriate order.If there is proof that the suspects had committed an offence and the investigations were not completed, they could be further detained, according to the Defence Secretaries Gazette notification. At the end of 90 days if the suspects were produced in court, it means that the investigations were concluded.In this case the TID did not produce the suspects in court at the conclusion of the investigations.In this case counsel for one of the suspects complained to court that the suspect had been assaulted and court ordered the TID to produce him before the JMO for examination and report.At this stage the TID did not voluntarily produce the suspects in court. Neither had the TID reported that the investigations were concluded. Therefore to detain the suspect in a prison would result in the judiciary being found fault with for rupturing the investigations of the TID.Accordingly, court dismissed the counsels’ pleadings and made order to detain the suspects with the TID.The magistrate allowed an application to allow Tissainayagam to obtain a pair of spectacles after testing his eyes at the Eye Hospital. The case will be called on September 5Counsel M. A. Sumanthiran and K.V. Thavarasha appeared for the suspects.
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Silent demo. for Tissa’s release
By Kurulu Kariyakarawana Journalists, human rights activists and members of the clergy held a silent demonstration outside the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court premises yesterday, demanding the immediate release of detained columnist J S Tissainayagam.Journalists representing five media organizations: the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists’ Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions and the Free Media Movement, took part in the demonstration, which continued for a couple of hours.The demonstrators displayed placards calling for the immediate release of Mr. Tissainayagam, who has been in detention for more than 100 days.Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association President Sanath Balasooriya said the journalist had been detained on suspicion at the Terrorist Investigation Division for over 115 days without any charges being framed against him.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008
Request to release journalist Tissanayagam -

A media that operates independently plays a very important role in ensuring the healthy and meaningful functioning of a government. Keeping the public informed and developing a sense about their own rights is amongst the important roles played by media.Suppression of media freedom is am indicator of an unhealthy society. It is the duty of any democratic society to ensure the growth of a media tradition that understands the pulse of the people.When we look at the present government, it appears that some incidents take place without the knowledge of responsible authorities of the government. The invasion of the state television station by a government minister is one example. It was clear that a small incident developed into a situation that was unfavorable to the government.Although many recent incidents have taken place with the involvement of some people, they had resulted in the government being placed in an unfavorable situation before the people. A situation that will warrant the intervention of the President into each small incident should be avoided. It seems that there are responsible and experienced ministers within the present cabinet.Therefore, if defense authorities have suspicions about journalist Tissanayagam, they should investigate the facts in a clear manner and take up the matter in courts.It is not proper, particularly in the present context, that the government continues to keep him in prolonged detention.Therefore, if no court proceedings are initiated, I call on relevant authorities to release him soon.Ven. Baddegama Samitha TheroEx Member of Parliament Member of the Baddegama Pradeshiya SabhAPolibureau Member poliburea, Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP)27th June 2008

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Monday, June 23, 2008
Tissainayagam further detained
By: T. Farook Thajudeen.Senior journalist J.S.

Tissainayagam was further detained yesterday while his counsel insisted that the detention by the TID beyond 90 days was illegal.Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi reserved the order for June 30 and ordered the TID to produce Mr. Tissainyagama and the other suspects Vetrivel Jesikheren and Malarmadi Vadivel on that date.Counsel M. A Sumanthiran appearing for the senior journalist said EmergencyRegulations had allowed the police to detain the suspects on the direction of the IGP only for 90 days. He said thereafter they should be released or produced before a Magistrate.The Counsel said provisions in the Emergency Regulations clearly stated that the authorities could detain suspects for one year but after 90 days a Magistrate has to direct that the suspects be remanded in prison under fiscal custody. He said these suspects were detained on April 1 complying with the regulations and the 90 day period lapsed on June 5. He said detaining them with the TID thereafter was illegal and the suspects should be detained in prison.Counsel K. V. Thavarasha appearing for the other two suspects also said they should be detained in prison custody. He said although the Magistrate did not have the power to bail the suspect, he had the authority to detain them in prison.Senior State Counsel Amendra Seneviratne told court that it could not enlarge the suspects on bail without the Attorney General’s consent. He said the magistrate could detain them in prison only after the conclusion of investigations.The suspects were detained by the TID alleging that they had aided and abetted the LTTE movement. Press owner reveals TID assault in tears The owner of the printing press who was arrested with senior journalist J. Tissanaiyagam said he was assaulted by TID officers for revealing the injuries caused to him by the police to the Judicial Medical Officer“I’m frightened to go back to the TID”, the suspect Vettrivel Jesiheran said breaking into tears in open court.Jesiheran who is in remand for more than hundred days under TID detention wept when he wasproduced before the Colombo Magistrate and said he was assaulted on the very night he was produced before the JMO for examination.At this stage his counsel K. V. Thavarasha told court that on the direction of the Magistrate, Jesiheran was produced before the JMO on June 13 for examination of injuries alleged to have been caused by torture at the TID but on the same night he had been tortured again.The counsel further said he was compelled to complain to the Magistrate as the Supreme Court had directed to inform the Magistrate with regard to any torture in the TID and inform the Supreme Court by way of an affidavit.Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi at this stage ordered that Jesiheran be produced before the JMO again for examination and report.(daily Mirror- june 24 2008)

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"Article that angered govt. Led to Tissainayagam's arrest.

Child soldiers: What the Govt. report did not report By J.S. Tissainayagam Earlier this week, the media highlighted government’s plan to present the report of the Committee to Inquire into Allegations of Abductions and Recruitment of Children for Use in Armed Conflict (CIAARC), at the sessions of the UN Security Council on Thursday. What transpired at the sessions was not known at the time this article was written.CIAARC was appointed by Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and headed by Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamalth. Among the highlights of the report, written after a fact-finding mission to Batticaloa, was that “there had been no complaints of abductions or forced recruitment recorded by law enforcement authorities in 2008” (Daily Mirror 19/Feb/2008).In a concise, but comprehensive statement, the Civil Society Working Group on Child Soldiers (CSWGCS), comprising a number of civil society organisations, has demolished the work of CIAARC exposing the lies, omissions and the deliberate attempt to mislead the UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict by creating a false picture, apparently to exculpate the government.The CSWGCS statement contradicts bluntly CIAARC’s claim there were no abductions reported in 2008 by stating: “Already, 5 cases of underage recruitment by the TMVP (three cases of recruitment and two re-recruitments) have been reported by the UNICEF for January 2008.” It has to be noted that the reason for the formation of CIAARC was persistent allegations of abductions and recruitment of children by the TMVP, once headed by Karuna and now by Pillaiyan.The CSWGCS statement questions the work of the CIAARC fact-finding mission. Calling it a “fly-in, fly-out mission,” CSWGCS accuses it of staying only four hours in Batticaloa during the field visit. What is more, it says “this high-profile committee did not talk to the parents of the children abducted, or groups working with parents and child abductees.”The statement goes on to dismiss out of hand the government’s pretence of not being complicit in the acts of the TMVP through denial, including Samarasinghe’s request for “credible evidence” of this link, by citing the training camps of the TMVP in government-controlled areas.“There are number of training camps … established in government-controlled areas and in visibly close proximity to military outposts, army checkpoints and camps ... Theevuchenai, Muttukal in the Welikanda area and Kadiraveli ... Despite persistent denial of any involvement with the TMVP, its cadres have been seen patrolling with soldiers and walking in and out of army camps.”Finally, the statement places the political link between the government and TMVP in perspective declaring, “This armed faction, listed in the annex of the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict as a violator of child recruitment, is now openly contesting jointly with the government in the local elections in Batticaloa.”The CSWGCS statement concludes CIAARC “was intended to be nothing but a face-saving mechanism with no genuine political will.” Having demolished CIAARC, the statement proceeds to debunk claims made by the government to have set up a number of institutions for the protection of children and the efforts made by them to address underage recruitment.Before dealing with this plethora of institutions, the CSWGCS statement documents the state of mind of civilians. It says, “Civilians live in a climate of fear, suppression and without the capacity to voice out their grievances. Parents, risking threats, intimidation and harassment, have made complaints to the Police, the National Child Protection Authority as well as to the Supreme Court regarding the abduction of their children, but to no avail.”Speaking of the Police, the statement reports no progress had been made in protecting children or addressing underage recruitment. It dismisses “Samarasinghe’s claim that the Police would immediately investigate reported cases of abductions” by saying no reports had been made available “bringing into question whether investigations even took place.”On the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka’s role, the CSWGCS says that despite complaints to the Commission it had “failed to visit the camps named in the HRW (Human Rights Watch) report where children and youth are being held and/or given arms training.” It adds the Commission made no attempt at even identifying camps where children were being held.Going on to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) under Chairman Jagath Wellawatte, the CSWGCS challenges the organisation’s excuse for inaction by claming it was not mandated to launch investigations into child recruitment cases without an official complaint. “This statement is completely contradictory to its mandate, which maintains: ‘the authority may, where it has reason to believe that there is child abuse on any premises…. authorize an officer of the Authority to enter and search such premises,’” the CSWGCS points out.The CSWGCS report reserves its harshest criticism for the one-man Mahanama Tilakaratne Commission on Abductions, Attacks on Civilians and Killings. It says “the investigation was a sham,” buttressing the conclusion by, “to date no results of the investigations have been made public – even though parents, witnesses have been questioned. A number of parents were not even informed that such an investigation was taking place.” The Commission’s visit to Batticaloa was not announced and the three-day visit “was too short to achieve any substantial findings.” It is on the basis of the shoddy and disingenuous work of these institutions that the government hoped to present its defence on the protection of children in armed conflict in Sri Lanka. The fact that it did not have tangible evidence of such abuses was not because there was no evidence, but because they did not bother to collect it systematically.It could be that the government believed its customary approach of blaming all child recruitment on the LTTE would enable it to wriggle out of a tight spot. But such an argument might not wash this time judging from the tone of the HRW report released on Thursday claiming the LTTE’s recruitment of children had “dropped significantly over the past nine months,” though it accuses the Tigers of not keeping to the deadline of releasing all underage recruits already in its ranks.Or it could be the government believes its reliance on slogans (“zero tolerance of child recruitment”), brazen falsehood (“there is no credible evidence” of TMVP abductions in government-controlled areas), or the appointment of a raft of committees, would protect it from too much damage in the hands of the UNSC Working Group.The exposure of the machinations of the government and the institutions it has established, should not blind us to the fact that, finally, the UN is a club of states. Whether this club of states is willing to impose strictures on a fellow-member, fighting a counterinsurgency war using child soldiers, is left to be seen.

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Tissainayagam in wrongful custody, Jasikaran tortured, allege counsels

AS REPORTED IN SUNDAY TIMES OF JUNE 15Senior Tamil journalist and Sunday Times columnist, J.S Tissainayagam, under detention since his arrest on March 7, was produced Friday before the chief magistrate N. Hettiarachchi 98 days into his detention, legal sources in Colombo said. The Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry objected to Tissainayagam and other detainees from being moved to the Fiscal Custody according to regulation 21 (2) of the emergency regulations of 2005. Counsel for Tissainayagam, M. A Sumanthiran then asked that it be recorded that Tissainayagam is held in wrongful custody, as under the regulations after 90 days the detainee has to be moved to the custody of the Fiscal.The Senior State Counsel Amendra Seneviratne said that he needed time to consider the said regulations, as he felt that there was a contradiction between regulation 19 and regulation 21.Counsel for V. Jasiharan, E. Thavarasa, held that it was the place of detention and not the detention itself was in question. He was only questioning the place of detention and that Regulation 21 (2) clearly states that if a person is detained for more than 90 days the magistrate shall order that the person is so detained in a prison established under the Prison Ordinance. Counsel Thavarasa maintained that his clients V. Jasikaran and V. Valarmathy were being held wrongfully in custody.All counsels for the defence moved for bail for their clients.The magistrate ordered the two parties to look into regulations. Counsel for Tissainayagam maintained that even when Tissainayagam was not produced on 6th June he had concerns on the wrongful custody of the detainees recorded. Counsel for Jasikaran cited the Sirisena Cooray case where wrongful custody was a reason for dismissing the case. Nalin Laduwahetty also appearing for Tissainayagam said that detainees in the Kalutara and other prisons have been moved out of police custody into the fiscal and asked why an exception was made in this case. He also cited the Dushyantha Basnayaake case where the detainee had been moved into the custody of the fiscal.At this time, V. Jasikaran said he wanted to make a personal statement to the Magistrate, and a Tamil translator was summoned to help the court.Mr. Jasikaran said that on the 10th of May when he was taken to the JMO he was afraid to tell the JMO that he had been tortured. However, when the magistrate ordered that he be taken to the JMO again on the 27th of May he showed the JMO the wounds on his back and his hands where he had been tortured. Jasiakaran added that he also showed the JMO the scars on his feet where his legs were tied together, and then he was tortured. He said despite disclosing this to the JMO, the JMO had only given his report in Sinhala, so he did not know what it contained. He also said that the report was only given to the TID and not to his counsel.That is why he wanted to make the magistrate aware that he had been tortured. The magistrate then ordered that the JMO report handed over to Jasikaran's counsel.V. Valarmathy then said that she also wanted to make a statement. She said that since her husband Jasikaran had publicly disclosed to the Magistrate of the torture he suffered, she feared for her and her husband's lives and asked for protection. The magistrate said they were under police protection. Valarmathy responded that it was in police custody that her husband was tortured, and now that they had to go back there their lives were in danger. The magistrate disallowed her request.Nalin Laduwahetty, M.A Sumanthiran and Gehan Gunethilleke appeared for Tissainayagam, E.Thavarasa appeared for Jasikaran and Valarmathy. Senior State Counsel Amendra Seneviratne appeared for the state, and E Wijeratne assisted the TID.
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