“The many victims of Sri Lanka’s three-decade long civil war have seen their diminishing hopes for justice further delayed by presidential politics,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This tragedy highlights the failure of the Sirisena government to take swift, meaningful steps toward accountability.” In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29th edition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times. Long-promised security sector reforms are also stalled. Although the government proposed a new counterterrorism law to repeal the draconian and long-abused Prevention of Terrorism Act, the bill did not meet international human rights standards.One important advance for justice was the indictment, in November, of the chief of defense staff, Adm. Ravindra Wijegunaratne, for protecting a navy officer accused of abducting and killing 11 ethnic Tamil civilians during the civil war.“Sri Lanka’s past pledges to provide justice to conflict victims and to initiate reforms have fallen by the wayside amid political turmoil,” Ganguly said. “Sri Lanka’s friends need to press the government to meet its commitments to people who have suffered for so long.” (Colombo Gazette) Sri Lanka’s political upheaval undermined stalled processes aimed at providing truth and justice for abuses from the country’s civil war, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2019.The crisis subsided after the Supreme Court ruled on December 13 that the president’s dissolving of parliament was unconstitutional, and Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down as proclaimed prime minister. The administration of Rajapaksa was implicated in egregious violations during the final months of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war in 2009, and in suppression of freedoms of the media, expression, and association. After Maithripala Sirisena won the election in 2015, the government improved the climate for civil society, reversed some repressive measures, and supported a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council that promoted four transitional justice mechanisms for truth and accountability.Of these four, only the Office of Missing Persons has been formed, but it has yet to become fully functional. Families in the north and east have held protests and vigils to demand the return of their land from military occupation and to seek the truth about disappeared family members. The political turmoil over the country’s leadership and the possible return of a Rajapaksa administration raised fears not only of further delays in justice, but of retribution against those pressing for government action. The Supreme Court ruling and Rajapaksa’s concession ended the turmoil.
Top 10 Boys’ names announced in the Telegraph1. = Arthur, Henry3. = Edward, William5. George6. = Alexander, Frederick, Jack, Oliver, Thomas Perhaps Telegraph readers have been inspired by the Royal wedding. Henry – Prince Harry’s birth name – has risen to the top of the charts for baby boys, according to Telegraph birth announcements.The name Henry shares top place with Arthur among Telegraph readers. Margot, a lowly 12th in 2017, and Matilda are joint top of the girls’ list.Henry rose to top from third last year, possibly on the strength of Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle in May. The order of service, made public on the eve of the wedding, listed the groom under his official title His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales. Royal names dominate the boys’ list. After Henry and Arthur in the Telegraph readers’ popularity stakes comes Edward, William and George.Girls’ names are not seemingly on Royal message. There are no Meghans – in fact there hasn’t been a Meghan with that spelling since 2001 – and no Kates or Catherines in the top 30. There was a Queen Matilda on the English throne – she was married to King Stephen – but you have to go back almost 900 years. Margot Robbie on the red carpetCredit:Dave J Hogan/Getty Images More likely Matildas are being named after Roald Dahl’s heroine, now hugely popular in an award-winning musical, while the incidences of Margot is trickier to explain. The Australian actress Margot Robbie, one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, is one possible explanation. Susan Cole, a retired librarian, from Sutton, Surrey, who has been compiling the list for almost 50 years since 1969, said: “Henry now tops the list but Harry doesn’t even make the top ten. Surprisingly Harry comes in at only 21st, well below Henry.”Ms Cole suggested that the Royal wedding – and the prominent use of the name Henry on the order of service – could have swung it among more traditional Telegraph readers. The shortened Harry, by contrast, appears passe.The girls’ list contains some unusual names high up including Ottilie at joint third and Cosima just outside the top ten. Matilda The Musical, based on Roald Dahl’s book Top 10 Girls’ names1. = Margot, Matilda3. = Isabella, Ottilie5. Florence6. = Eliza, Jemma, Olivia9. = Beatrice, Poppy 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.