Without Prejudice: May 2022

Student contribution: Bukhosi Masango


The Sri Lankan Economic Crisis


Sri Lanka, a nation situated in the Indian Ocean has been experiencing an economic crisis in the backdrop of the global COVID pandemic. Demonstrations of protest nationwide and global are all to put pressure on the current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.


The nation is currently experiencing its biggest economic crisis post-independence. Upon winning the election in 2019 ‘Gota’, as he is referred to, changed the constitution and dissolved the legislature. The Sri Lankan rupee has declined about 30% and the economy is crashing. Food and fuel have also become increasingly expensive, much to the disapproval of citizens. The price of rice would normally cost 80 rupees (A $0.34) and has risen to 500 rupees (A $2.10)


There is a shortage of food, power cuts and shortage of medicine which puts the lives of many at risk. Gotabaya and his government have attempted to suppress these protests and demonstrations with an imposed weekend curfew and even a social media ban in April. The events which led to this state of emergency and social media lock out were a reaction to the disapproval of the current government. Reports of unwarranted police violence and arrests have prompted the UN to monitor the situation asserting that such measures by the government should be in line with international human rights law; Article 12 - that everyone has the right and freedom of expression and Article 20 - that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.


After careful consideration the bans were lifted accompanied by a cabinet reshuffle. The biggest issue that the nation will have to default on is its debt, repayments are in the billions which will affect those who it is supposed to benefit. The highly militarised response to the peaceful protests will continue to be monitored by the UN Human Rights Office.


How to follow and stay up to date:


The GotaGoGama is a non-for-profit organisation created by youth in the wake of the economic crisis. The group actively serves those in Sri Lanka and provides the latest information on the economic crisis: https://gotagogama.digital/


The Australian Institute of International Affairs is hosting a webinar on the 10th May 2022 which will discuss the causes and consequences of the Sri Lankan economic crisis:


https://aiiavic.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/42420-sri-lanka-crisis-causes-and-consequences


Show support:


Foundation of Goodness has been working on supporting rural communities since 1999. With programs targeting bridging the gap across 10 different divisions the company is underpinned by three principles, transparency, integrity and accountability.


https://foundationofgoodness.raisely.com/




Inquest in the death of Veronica Nelson


The inquest into the death of Veronica Nelson places the spotlight on Indigenous deaths in custody. The 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths came with 339 recommendations such as using imprisonment as a last resort, and that prison and police officers are to seek medical attention immediately if unsure of the condition of a detainee.


With more than 30 years since the Royal Commission, we find ourselves coming to terms with the harsh events that led to Veronica Nelson’s death whilst in custody.. Upon entering corrections facilities it was recommended Veronica was to be hospitalised; despite this recommendation she was placed in custody and not given adequate medical treatment. She was refused a blanket when she was cold and pleaded for medical attention for excessive vomiting and dehydration.The inquest also revealed she hadn’t had legal representation and an unsuccessful bail application. Recordings have emerged from the inquest of Veronica screaming for help and calling out to her late father. The following day at 7:30am she was found dead.


After over 30 years since this coronial inquest, events such as this place an emphasis on the care and attention received by Indigenous Australians whilst in custody and the interaction with the justice system.


How to follow and stay up to date:


Reports


Deaths in Custody in Australia 2020-2021: https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/sr/sr37


Indigenous Deaths in Custody: https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/indigenous-deaths-custody-chapter-3-comparison-indigenous-and-non-indigenous-deaths


Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody:


https://www.naa.gov.au/explore-collection/first-australians/royal-commission-aboriginal-deaths-custody


https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/indigenous-deaths-custody-report-summary



https://www.commonground.org.au/learn/deaths-in-custody




Show support:


Common Ground is a First Nations led non-for-profit organisation that is grounded in the amplification, education and support of Indigneous communities nationwide: https://www.commonground.org.au/learn/deaths-in-custody


ANTar has been working on advocating the rights and reconciliation of Indengous Australians since 1997 with a wide range of individuals and organisations:


https://antar.org.au/


Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services: https://www.vals.org.au/


Sister Inside: https://www.sistersinside.com.au/



References


Sri Lankan Economic Crisis


https://theconversation.com/whats-happening-in-sri-lanka-and-how-did-the-economic-crisis-start-181060


https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights



https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/18/sri-lanka-president-expands-cabinet-amid-economic-crisis-protests


https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-briefing-notes/2022/04/sri-lanka-concern-measures-response-protests-amid-economic-crisis



https://theconversation.com/sri-lankas-economic-crisis-is-a-chance-to-reinvent-international-bailouts-so-that-citizens-dont-take-most-of-the-pain-181645


https://island.lk/broad-coalition-of-protesting-groups-necessary/



https://groundviews.org/2022/04/30/21st-amendment-a-way-out-of-sri-lankas-multiple-crises/


Death of Veronica Nelson


https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/about-us/news/inquest-into-death-of-veronica-nelson


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-26/veronica-nelson-aboriginal-death-in-custody-coronial-inquest/100971956


https://nit.com.au/inquest-into-aboriginal-womens-prison-death-to-probe-victorian-bail-laws-healthcare/