The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been urged to push Sri Lanka for a timetable for implementing the recommendations in resolution 30/1 when a new resolution is submitted at the 34th session which begins in Geneva next week.In a letter to the Permanent Missions in Geneva, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has sought support in ensuring that the upcoming consideration of Sri Lanka’s progress toward implementing its commitments under United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 accurately and substantively reflects the situation within the country. A key element of the resolution consists of transitional justice promises: a special court including international judges and prosecutors to try cases of war crimes by all parties to the conflict, an office on missing and disappeared persons, a truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanism, and a reparations mechanism.HRW says the Government has made only halting progress towards fulfilling these commitments. A hastily drafted and passed law to establish an Office of Missing Persons was done without thorough consultation of key stakeholders, and the office has yet to be set up. The three other promised mechanisms have not made significant progress. Reliable reports indicate that the Government team working on these three mechanisms has prepared draft legislation but as yet they have not been shared with stakeholders.“A report issued by the Government-appointed Consultation Task Force (CTF), which conducted extensive nationwide consultations on the transitional justice mechanisms, should be given the attention it deserves. The CTF report contains specific detailed recommendations, drawn from all affected communities including the security services, and provides an important blueprint for the way forward. The government may be commended for mandating these wide-ranging consultations, and should be encouraged through the anticipated Council resolution to engage with the CTF report’s findings and give due consideration to implementing its recommendations. To do otherwise would be tantamount to a dismissal of victims’ voices. It was the victims’ rights groups that sustained a diligent campaign over many years that helped to make resolution 30/1 possible. The CTF report and its recommendations should be at the forefront in the design of Sri Lanka’s promised four transitional justice mechanisms,” HRW added. HRW says an additional note of concern on Sri Lanka’s progress on transitional justice is its ongoing resistance to any foreign involvement in the four mechanisms. “We acknowledge at the outset the positive steps taken by the Government to date. Four UN Special Procedures, plus the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have visited Sri Lanka since the resolution was adopted. By all accounts, their visits received Government cooperation, and they were unhindered in their movements and meetings. Two nationwide consultations have been carried out, one on constitutional reform and the other on transitional justice. The Government has released some reports from previous government commissions of inquiry into wartime abuses, and established coordination offices to deal with transitional justice and reconciliation issues. Importantly, the Government in May 2016 ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” the letter said.However, HRW said it was concerned about the Government’s actual willingness to fully implement all aspects of resolution 30/1. “This includes both progress to date and the significant challenges remaining. At the end of this letter, we outline what we would consider to be the minimum key elements for a credible follow-up resolution,” the letter states. HRW noted that the resolution, adopted by the Council in October 2015 through consensus, contains 25 key undertakings by the Sri Lankan Government across a range of human rights issues. Government officials, including the president and cabinet members, have been increasingly unwilling to consider significant international involvement in the justice mechanism. This directly contravenes the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for a “hybrid” justice mechanism given the shortcomings of domestic institutions to ensure impartial investigations and witness protection, and the Sri Lankan government’s failure to take meaningful accountability measures since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009.HRW says it is imperative that the Council remain fully engaged with the process until the commitments Sri Lanka made to the Council and UN member states and its own people through its co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1 are fully met. (Colombo Gazette)
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13 November 2015The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) invested in 17 new projects in the 2014/2015 year, according to the organisation’s first annual report. Cash dispersed in project and programme related funding amounted to R371-million over the year.The agency published its report on 6 November at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria; it is planning regionally launches in Durban on 18 November and on 19 November in Cape Town.The strategyBoard chairperson of the Technology Innovation Agency, Khungeka Njobe. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)The strategy adopted by the board for the period 2015 to 2020 emphasized its funding focus in the early parts of the innovation value chain – in particular technology development and pre-commercialisation activities – remained as is, said board chairperson Khungeka Njobe.“Our goal is to ensure that innovation ideas can be shaped into viable technology development projects and that we de-risk the technology innovations for commercialisation funding by our partners,” she said. “To achieve these aims, we have established the following funding mechanisms – the Seed Fund, the Technology Development Fund and the Commercialisation Support Fund.”The TIA looks for investment opportunities in sectors such as mining, health biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, energy, and agricultural biotechnology.Year on year performanceThe graphic shows the various streams where the TIA money is spent. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)The Parliamentary grant to the TIA decreased by 30%, or R143-million, in the period under review, to R338-million, from R481-million in the previous year. Specific contracted agreements recognised as income in 2014/15 amounted to R51- million, a drop of 18% over the previous year’s amount of R62-million.Other income increased 225% to R83-million, from R26-million in the 2013/14 year. A significant amount of R59-million represented the profit on the sale of an equity investment in an associate company. The TIA’s financial year runs from April to March.Of the amount spent, R371-million, a 4% increase, was for project grants and R15.9-million represented loans. The board said it was satisfied with the performance of the organisation against the predetermined performance objectives and targets, having reached 73%.“We expect that these projects will soon feed into the TIA mainstream Technology Development Fund,” read the report. “A total of 38 innovative products were developed through support provided by the Technology Platforms; eight technologies reached demonstration stage (TRL 7) and six were taken up by the market.”Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the Technology Innovation Agency.(Image: Technology Innovation Agency)Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the TIA, was positive about this year’s report. “We are now well-positioned to continue, in an accelerated manner, with the numerous impressive projects contained in the annual report.“There are also significant process improvements to augment governance and the control environment so that the clean audit achieved in the period under review becomes the organisational standard,” he said.“Strategic partnerships, collaboration, high yield synergistic relationships, both nationally, on the African continent and further afield, will be a key focus as we play a role to position South Africa for greater localisation and beneficiation in support of the National Development Plan goals.”He added that the agency’s five-year strategic plan had been approved and this would guide the organisation forward.The TIA is a statutory body. Its vision is to be a world-class, leading technology innovation agency that stimulates and supports technological innovation to improve quality of life for all South Africans. This is in line with South Africa’s National Development Plan for skills development, to ensure a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path.According to the agency, it primarily uses South Africa’s science and technology base to develop new industries, create sustainable jobs and help to diversify the economy. It invests in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, industrial biotechnology, health, mining, energy and information and communications technology.More information on the TIA’s funding guidelines can be found here.SouthAfrica.info reporter