MR slams resolution defends ties with Gaddafi

Rajapajsa said that there are times when foreign powers try to foist their way of thinking upon other nations and the country at the receiving end has to find ways of dealing with the situation. “After its passage, the Prime Minister said that Sri Lanka has now been ‘taken off the agenda in the UNHRC’. Posters of the UPFA have appeared on the streets hailing the government for delivering the country from the ‘imperialist death trap’ in Geneva. Such statements sit oddly beside the operative paragraphs of the resolution mentioned above. The mismatch between the provisions of the resolution that was passed and the government’s present mixed signals and rhetoric may be due to a belated realisation that nothing has been gained by Sri Lanka joining the USA as a co-sponsor of this resolution except to commit the government to a course of action which runs contrary to the interests of this country and is therefore politically unfeasible,” he said. He said the first duty of the Sri Lankan government is to see to it that the interests of the war heroes are looked after.“Operative paragraphs 6 & 8 of the resolution run directly contrary to that sacred duty. I regret to note that there is an attempt to whitewash the unfavourable resolution in Geneva by claiming that this was the best that could be achieved and that things could have been far worse with the near certainty of economic sanctions if my government had been still in power. The withdrawal of the GSP+ trade concession in 2010 and the ban on Sri Lankan fish imports to the EU in January 2015 were mentioned as the forerunners of the sanctions that were to be imposed on Sri Lanka. The public should be made aware that the ban on fish imports to the EU this year was due to issues relating to ‘illegal, unreported and unregulated’ fishing in the Indian Ocean in contravention of the rules of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and had nothing at all to do with politics or human rights. As for GSP+, this is a special trade concession of doubtful utility which gives the EU a political handle over the recipient country. In 2010 when GSP+ came up for its quinquennial review and this was being used to impose the EU’s will on Sri Lanka, my government made a conscious decision not to reapply for GSP+. Even after this trade concession was withdrawn, my government ensured that apparel exports to the EU kept growing at more than 6% a year. It should be noted that no major exporting country in Asia has applied for GSP+ due to the political strings attached to it,” he said. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says though the passage of the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) without a vote last Thursday is being hailed as a diplomatic victory for Sri Lanka, he is unable to share that view.Rajapaksa raised concerns over some clauses in the resolution, including operative paragraph 6 which affirms the importance of the participation of foreign judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators in the Sri Lankan judicial mechanism to be set up to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the war. Rajapaksa also drew attention to comments made by President Maithripala Sirisena that he had antagonised Western nations by being photographed with his arm around Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.“It is actually Gaddafi who has his arm on my shoulder in that much publicised photograph. In the last months of the war in 2009 when Sri Lanka was fast losing foreign reserves due to the severe global economic recession that year and the IMF under pressure from the Western nations was delaying the standby facility that we were entitled to, Muammar Gaddafi agreed to lend 500 million USD to Sri Lanka in response to a single phone call from me. If not for that pledge, the economy would have collapsed before the war could be won,” he said.He said that he never submitted to foreign pressure and this resulted in the defeat of terrorism in the country. Rajapaksa noted that Governments are elected by the people of Sri Lanka to do what is best for the country and not to agree to everything said by foreign powers. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Alton Towers rollercoaster crash victims left waiting for 17 minutes before anyone

first_imgOne of the features is not just the impact on those injured, but on those close to themJudge Michael Chambers QC “The subsequent collision was plain to see to some in the train,” he told the court, including the victims.“I refer to those in the front row’s statements, where they speak of their disbelief and horror as they saw ahead up the track the train into which there were going to dive.”The court heard that the collision between the two carriages happened at 1.51pm. But it was not until 2.08pm that emergency services were alerted with the first 999 call. They speak of their disbelief and horror as they saw ahead up the track the train into which there were going to diveBernard Thorogood, for the HSE Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17, each lost a leg in the accident while several other people who were trapped for hours.Mr Thorogood outlined how a test carriage had been sent around the rise but had come to rest in a valley of the track, unseen by staff.Engineers then overrode a computer system, which they thought had stopped the ride in error, sending a full car along to the track and into the path of the empty carriage. Judge Michael Chambers QC, the Recorder of Stafford, was also told that the Smiler was not fitted with anemometers record wind speeds, which 46mph on the day of the accident.“The mean wind speed was defined as gale force wind,” said Mr Thorogood.“The operational limit of the ride should be 34mph, that’s when it should stop.“There’s no other sensible explanation why the train stalled, it was wind speed that caused it.“Another rollercoaster called Skyride had been closed at 12.15pm due to high gusting winds.”A court hearing in April this year was told that Merlin had carried its own internal investigation following the incident, which established that a worker manually overrode the rollercoaster’s governing computer system.Alton Towers has instituted 30 changes following the crash to improve safety of the ride, the court heard.Speaking about the potential fine to Merlin, Mr Thorogood said it could be between £3,000 and £10 million, but could be increased even higher should it be found to be a “large organisation”.Vicky Balch and Leah Washington, who each lost a leg in the crash, were in court for the hearing, along with fellow front-row passengers Joe Pugh and Daniel Thorpe.Chandaben Chauhan, who was in the second row and was also seriously hurt, also attended. It also emerged that while the theme park’s operator, Merlin Attractions Operations, has accepted that “human errors” were responsible for the incident on June 2 last year, no one at the company has resigned as a result.The court was shown CCTV footage of the moment of the crash in which altogether 16 people in total were injured.The group has been told it is facing a fine potentially topping £10 million after admitting a health and safety breach leading to the accident.Opening a two-day sentencing hearing, Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, said the force of the collision between two carriages was equivalent to a 90mph car crash.center_img Victims of the Alton Towers roller-coaster crash in which five people were seriously injured including two teenagers who lost legs were left waiting for 17 minutes before anyone called 999, a court has heard.Stafford Crown Court was also told how staff responsible for operating the Smiler ride had not read the manual and that, although gale force winds were the ultimate cause of the crash, it was not fitted with a wind speed recorder.A judge also heard how staff at the park also had a “distrust” of fault signals leading engineers to override a computer system which could have prevented the accident. Alton Towers theme park Smiler ride accident victim Vicky Balch, arrives at Stafford Crown Court 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. Alton Towers theme park Smiler ride accident victim Vicky Balch, arrives at Stafford Crown CourtCredit:Rui Vieira/PA Wirelast_img read more