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( April 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Commenting on the recent fracas involving five UNP MPs in Hambanthota, President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing media heads yesterday at Temple Trees said that when the Speaker was repeatedly set upon and pelted with stones over the good work he did with regard to Deduru Oya, the press reported the incident in a different way.

He also said that the press reported the attack on Minister Jeevan Kumaratunge as if Kumaratunge was at fault whereas the reportage on the recent Hambanthota incident despite the provocations by the UNP MPs, has been from a totally different perspective.

The President said that politicians from Colvin R de Silva to others such as himself have been attacked before, but added that culture of offensive politics must end and that the police will do the needful in the case of the Hambanthota incident.

No one can take the law in to their own hands he said both with reference to vigilante groups such as BBS, and party politicians allegedly going on the warpath in Hambanthota.

However, these politicians provoked the crowds by saying the Hambanthota harbour would be made a swimming pool and making similar uncalled for statements. A special police unit would be established to swoop in and take necessary action if complaints about 'vigilante' action by various groups are correct, said the President.

In recent times such vigilante action has allegedly been directed in some instances at those involved in religious activity. With regard to the encroachment of the Wilpattu Nature Reserve as alleged by the Bodu Bala Sena, the President said that it has to be first established if indeed there is an encroachment of the Park. Minister Rishard Bathiudeen has alleged that in fact there is no such encroachment and that the settlers are now in a buffer zone.

On the Strategic Development Projects Act the President said categorically that no casinos are to be established in the hotel complex that is to come up in D R Wijewardene Mawatha. He said the UNP protests are ill informed and are in the main due to a lack of issues they can deal with.

On other issues and questions raised the President commented:

-- If under aged girls are statutorily raped and the sexual act was however with consent, it may be good to have legislation that allows the perpetrator to marry the 'victim' with her consent. He said that this is because this kind of case generally concerns couples in a common law marriage, and that British or other legal systems we import law from, does not necessarily cover these situations.

-- With regard to the death penalty he said that the Government is in a dilemma and that cultural imperatives and the cause of crime prevention are at cross purposes on this issue. Cabinet will however have to decide whether the death penalty will be implemented in this country he said.

-- On the issue of so called UNHRC probes into alleged human rights violations, he said that the Disappearances Commission is now in session and that its results will determine the course of how these issues will be addressed. However he faulted foreign missions for not providing the requisite information on missing persons when necessary.

-- On the issue of funding of foreign NGOs the President instructed Minister G L Peiris to look into the issue of formulating laws with regard to the proper auditing and accountability for such funding and proper monitoring of the entire process so that these organizations do not act in a manner that is inimical to the State.

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