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Musician Jananath Warakagoda remanded over fatal accident 

Jananath Warakagoda, Musician and Son of Veteran Artist Wijeratne Warakagoda has been remanded till March 18 by the Mahara Magistrates Court. The vehicle he was driving was involved in a fatal accident which killed a 68-year-old woman on a pedestrian crossing opposite the Kirillawala Divisional Secretariat today morning. Police are carrying out further investigations into the incident.

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UK and Germany table Resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC

Sri Lanka is once again under international pressure to implement fully the measures identified by the UNHRC in 2015 to address human rights concerns after the United Kingdom and Germany on Tuesday tabled a resolution at the UN body in Geneva.

The UN rights office calls for international investigations into alleged war crimes and encourages member states to prosecute Sri Lankans suspected of war crimes in accordance with universal jurisdiction principles.

Titled "Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka", the rollover resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

It also calls for presenting a written update to the UNHRC at its 43rd session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its 46th session, a foreign ministry source said.

The resolution which Sri Lanka is expected to co-sponsor is termed A/HRC/40/L.1 and was also endorsed by Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, according to the source.

The resolution follows the report submitted by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Brachelet last week.    

The report reviews the progress made by Sri Lanka since October 2015 and January 2019.

It assessed Sri Lanka’s pledge on promoting reconciliation and human rights accountability.

Brachelet’s report said that her office has been receiving credible information on cases of abduction, unlawful detention torture and sexual violence by the Sri Lankan security forces allegedly taken place from 2016 to 2018.

The report has acknowledged the government’s progress in human rights issues and its engagement with civil society.

The Resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders in consultation with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to strengthen their advice and technical assistance on the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has resisted calls for international investigations citing constitutional constraints for foreign judges to operate in the island.

The UNHRC resolutions since 2013 had censured Sri Lanka on its alleged human rights abuses.

They called for probing of the rights abuses by both the LTTE and the government troops by setting up an international investigation.

The Tamil rights groups continue to pressurise the government for meaningful accountability process for human rights violations in order to achieve reconciliation. (PTI)

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Mangala intervenes to provide interim relief for estate workers

A special allowance of Rs.50 is to be paid from 1st of April 2019 for a year for the plantation sector workers, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said today. 

"Within this year, a total reform and restructuring program will be carried out. Better working conditions and making the workers stakeholders of the industry is a must", Samaraweera said in a tweet. 

Sri Lanka has an estimated 140,000 plantation sector workers. The Rs.50 per worker allowance would be in addition to the recently agreed total daily wage of Rs.750, which includes a Rs.700 basic daily wage. 

The latest wage agreement was formalised between the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and several plantation worker trade unions, in January.

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Navy recovers explosives used for illegal fishing  

A group of naval personnel attached to the Eastern Naval Command recovered few explosive items hidden in a scrub, during a search carried out in the beach area of Sagarapura yesterday (11). During the search, 2 water gel sticks, 8 non electric detonators and 5 safety fuses were seized and the items are currently being held at the armoury of SLNS Walagamba.

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'Females only' buses in Sri Lanka soon'

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation on Tuesday said the government would soon launch public buses for "females only" in order to curb the rising complaints of sexual harassment on public  transport.

The ministry in a statement said the buses will be launched within the coming two weeks in capital Colombo and will be extended to other parts of the country later this year. At least 25 to 30 buses would be put on the roads at first by the state-owned Sri Lanka Transport Board.

The aim of this program is to reduce the abusive environment and the sexual harassment faced by women in public transport system.

The ministry last week launched special "all female compartments" in passenger trains travelling throughout the island in order to ensure the safety of female passengers.

The "all women compartments" would also help reduce overcrowding in trains.

Sri Lanka has recently faced a rise in women facing sexual harassment on public transportation, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In a recent report by the UNFPA, at least 90 percent of women have faced harassment on trains and buses and incidents of sexual harassment is on the rise because victims refuse to speak up and opt to suffer in silence.

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MR attempting to defeat the budget! Wants an election! 

Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to be rounding up other parties of the opposition in a bid to defeat the budget brought by the United National Party (UNP) government. According to sources his aim is to defeat the budget and request that a general election should be held. 

He is also said to have informed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) that it needs to support this bid if the issues regarding the nominee for the 2020 presidential election is to be resolved. 

Reports from the political arena say Rajapaksa has informed President Maithripala Sirisena regarding this as well. However, he is yet to receive a response from Sirisena. Sources say a group from the SLFP are to vote in favour of the budget putting Sirisena in a difficult position leading to his failure to respond to Rajapaksa’s demands.

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Budget 2019: Second Reading passed by 119 

The Second Reading of the Budget 2019 was passed today by with 119 MPs voting in favour and 76 MPs voting against.

The Tamil National alliance (TNA) voted in favour while the JVP voted against.

The committee stage debate will begin on tomorrow (13) and the final vote is due to be taken on April 05th.

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UK's Flexicare launches disposable medical devices manufacturing facility in Bandaragama

Flexicare Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary of Flexicare Group, UK yesterday launched the construction of a state-of-the-art modern manufacturing facility in Bandaragama with an investment of over USD 10 million which is a Board of Investment of Sri Lanka approved the project.
 
Flexicare Group UK Managing Director, Hash Poormand together with Minister of Health Dr Rajitha Senaratne and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake laid the foundation stone at a ceremony held on Monday (March 11).
 
This will be the first time that a fully-fledged facility is to be established for medical consumables and devices with a view to export a significant amount of the products manufactured in Sri Lanka.
 
It is envisaged that over 90% of the production will be exported bringing in significant foreign exchange to the country, providing employment to 600 employees during full commercialization of the manufacturing site. The local distribution of the products will be managed through their exclusive distributor, Technomedics International Pvt Ltd.
 
"Our vision today is no different than what it was when we started in 1989. To become the preferred and most trusted healthcare manufacturer for products that enhance patient care. Pioneering and leading the way in airway and respiratory management," Fexicare MD, Poormand said.
 
"We strongly feel that the project will significantly contribute to the growth of the national economy and help towards the achievement of the government's long term goals relating to 'Vision 2025' for the development of the healthcare sector," he added.
 
Flexicare, a leading UK manufacturer of medical devices has offices across Europe, the Middle East, India, Far East, USA and Australia and can respond to customers' needs, providing fast and efficient service. (Colombo Page)

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Dutch museum in talks with Sri Lanka about returning stolen art

The Rijksmuseum in Netherlands is in talks with Sri Lanka and Indonesia about the restitution of art taken from those countries in colonial times. Rijksmusuem director Taco Dibbits called it scandalous that the Netherlands hasn't worried about this issue before now. 

"We should have done this much earlier. There is no excuse for that", he said to Dutch newspaper Trouw.

Martine Gosselink, the head of the Rijksmuseum's History department, will travel to Sri Lanka in two weeks to discuss the possible return of artworks, including an antique cannon and the diamond of Banjarmasin, a Sultan of Borneo who once owned the jewel. Later this spring she will travel to Indonesia.

The Rijksmusuem can not decide by itself to return art pieces. As they are state property, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science has to agree. 

Last week the National Museum of World Cultures published a guideline for the restitution of stolen art. The Museum, an umbrella organization covering several Dutch museums, said that it wanted to actively look for items in its collection of 375 thousand objects that are eligible for return.

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WhatsApp blocks third-party app users 

WhatsApp is now temporarily banning users who use third-party modded version of the app. 

Users who are temporarily banned from WhatsApp will get an in-app message informing them of their ban and the only way to have the account unbanned is to switch back to the official version of WhatsApp. 

These third-party versions of WhatsApp offer additional features to users, like theming options or emojis. 

The FAQ page on the WhatsApp website states that the third-party apps – such as WhatsApp Plus and GB WhatsApp – violate WhatsApp's terms of service and that WhatsApp does not support these apps because they are not able to validate their security practices. 

The FAQ suggests that users backup their chat history in the modded app before going back to the official one.

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UPFA to vote against Budget 2019: Lakshman Yapa

United People’s Freedom Alliance has decided to vote against the second reading of the Budget 2019. 

UPFA MP Lakshman Yapa said that the decision to vote against the budget was taken at the parliamentary group meeting held this morning (12). However, they have decided to vote in favour of the President's expenditure head. 

The voting on the second reading of Budget 2019 is scheduled to take place today.

The JVP has already stated that they will vote against budget.

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Vote on the second reading of budget today!

The vote on the second reading of the budget will be held today (12) afternoon in parliament. 

Following the presentation of the budget by Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera on March 5, the debate on its second reading commenced on the 6th lasting for almost a week. The vote on it will be called at 5pm today. 
 
The third reading of it will commence tomorrow and will last till April 5.

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