US report notes limited progress rights abuses in Sri Lanka

The annual US human rights report noted that the Sri Lankan Government has made limited progress toward establishing additional transitional justice mechanisms.The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 made public by Acting US Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, noted that there were some reports that the Government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. According to the report, interviews by human rights organizations found that torture remained endemic throughout the country, including for those charged with offenses under the PTA. Suspects arrested under the PTA, including since the war ended in 2009, gave accounts of torture and mistreatment, forced confessions, and denial of basic rights such as access to lawyers or family members. Several released former combatants reported torture or mistreatment, including sexual abuse by government officials while in rehabilitation centers and after their release. Excessive use of force against civilians by police and security officials also remained a problem. The report also said that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka received 118 complaints of arbitrary arrest and detention during the year in 2017. According to human rights groups, the police and its Criminal Investigation and Terrorism Investigation Departments unlawfully detained individuals in police stations, army camps, and informal detention facilities on allegations of involvement in terrorism-related activities without bringing charges or arraigning detainees within the timeframe required by law.Police sometimes held detainees incommunicado, and lawyers had to apply for permission to meet clients, with police frequently present at such meetings. In some cases, unlawful detentions reportedly included interrogations involving mistreatment or torture. Authorities reportedly released detainees with a warning not to reveal information about their arrests or detentions under the threats of rearrest or death. (Colombo Gazette) The International Truth and Justice Project and the Associated Press reported allegations of abductions and torture carried out by the security sector during the year. They reported most victims were Tamil men accused by security forces of having links to the LTTE and that security forces tortured and sexually abused them after the initial abduction. There were also reports of sexual abuse committed by Government and security sector officials against wives who came forward seeking information about their missing husbands or against war widows who attempted to claim government benefits based on their deceased husbands’ military service.The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his/her arrest or detention in court, but there were reports arbitrary arrest and detention occurred last year, the report found, although at a decreased rate compared with 2016. read more

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Silicon Valley gender bias suit puts spotlight on venture capital industry culture

SAN FRANCISCO – A sex discrimination trial against one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms is providing a rare peek into the elite investment companies vying to fund the next Google and Amazon.Their partnership rosters are stacked with some of the nation’s most accomplished graduates— multiple-degree holders from schools such as Harvard and Stanford universities who are competing aggressively to back the next big technology company. But they are also places where women are grossly underrepresented.Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers goes further, describing the firm as an old-boys club where women allegedly were excluded from parties at former Vice-President Al Gore’s house, asked to take notes at a meeting like secretaries and subjected to harassment and boorish behaviour by their male colleagues such as a conversation about porn stars and a trip to the Playboy Mansion aboard a private jet.The case has put a spotlight on the gender inequities in the technology sector at a time when it is booming and minting new millionaires, but generating resentment from people who feel left out and victimized by its success, which they blame for higher rents and gentrification. The trial has also brought some of the nation’s most accomplished venture capitalists into the courtroom, where they have faced tough questions about sexual harassment and the behaviour of men in the workplace.Pao, who has an MBA and law degree from Harvard, has mostly sat quietly and declined media questions during breaks in the proceedings. She could begin testifying on Friday.But the jury has heard hours of testimony from her former colleagues, including one of her mentors at the firm, billionaire investor John Doerr, who was placed in the awkward position of defending his company while acknowledging that the dearth of females in the venture capital industry is “pathetic.”A study released last year by Babson College in Massachusetts found that women filled just 6 per cent of the partner-level positions at 139 venture capital firms in 2013, down from 10 per cent in 1999.Doerr said 20 per cent of partners at Kleiner Perkins are women, and he has worked hard to recruit more women. He has disputed Pao’s contention that she was passed over for promotions because she was a woman and then fired in 2012 after she complained.Like the Kleiner Perkins legal team, he says Pao, 45, didn’t get along with her colleagues — a requirement for the junior partner position she moved into in 2010 after serving as his chief of staff.In a sign of the competitiveness of the industry, Doerr said of the 24 junior partners the firm has taken on during his tenure, only five were promoted. The rest, like Pao, were asked to move on.Doerr testified he was a loyal supporter of Pao’s and tried to help her succeed at Kleiner Perkins. As a member of the Kleiner Perkins management team, he said he fought for Pao to stay with the company and objected when other partners wanted to let her go in 2011.In a job review presented in court, Doerr said Pao needed to improve her interpersonal skills and not be dismissive of peers who don’t meet her expectations, though he otherwise praised her performance in her first year as his chief of staff.“You can’t dismiss people who you want to exchange ideas with,” Doerr testified. “It just causes the partnership to fail.”Alan Exelrod, Pao’s attorney, has argued that at least some of Pao’s male colleagues faced the same criticism — they were deemed “aggressive and opinionated,” ”territorial,” and needed to improve their delivery — but were promoted while she was not.“Was there a level playing field for Ellen Pao at Kleiner Perkins?” he said during his opening statement. “We will prove to you in this case that there was not.”Pao is seeking $16 million in damages. The firm is seeking to limit any possible damages by arguing that Pao is well-compensated in her current position as interim CEO of the popular social media company Reddit. Silicon Valley gender bias suit puts spotlight on venture capital industry culture by Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press Posted Mar 5, 2015 1:59 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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