Sri Lanka's economy expands by growth rate of 7.9 percent during the first quarter of the year; President Rajapaksa attends Rio+20, meets world leaders on the sideline of the conference; 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report : Sri Lanka among Tier 2 co
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  • According to the data released by the Department of Census and Statistics, Sri Lanka's economy has expanded by a healthy growth rate of 7.9 percent during the first quarter of this year, from the same period a year earlier. 1

    Reports noted that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has concluded his visit to Cuba and left for Brazil on June 19, 2012 to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 held in Rio de Janeiro to be held from June 20 – 22, 2012. According to reports, addressing the United Nations largest conference on green economy and sustainable development, President Rajapaksa said the developed countries which largely contributed to the environmental crisis cannot and should not leave the responsibility of saving the environment to developing nations at the cost of their development. The policies set for environment by developed countries must not hinder the growth of developing nations, the President said, adding that pushing various barriers and setting standards of environment will hamper developing nations in achieving economic growth. 2 On the sideline of the conference, President Rajapaksa met Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Thinle, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nepali Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. 3

    During the discussions with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has once again underlined the "great importance India attaches to the ability of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka to lead a life of dignity and as equal citizens of that country." A statement issued by the High commission of India in Colombo said the PM started one-on-one discussion with the President first and then in delegation-level covering all bilateral relations. 4

    According to the 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released on June 19, 2012 by the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Sri Lanka has been placed among Tier 2 countries. The 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report analyzed 186 countries by looking at what the governments are doing against human trafficking which is defined as modern day slavery. Tier 2 countries are the countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. 5

    Reports noted that Sri Lanka Navy has lifted all bans imposed on fishermen within the Trincomalee Outer Harbor with effect from June 20, 2012. Although there were no terrorist activities since the end of the war three years ago, the restrictions imposed by the Navy remained in effect in the seas off the harbor area to curtail illegal activities carried out by certain groups. 6

    The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Patricia A. Butenis visited Batticaloa in the Eastern Province Tuesday (19) to open projects completed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the development arm of the U.S. Embassy. Ambassador Butenis inaugurated three projects - a bakery in Vakarai, Batticaloa, staff quarters at the Pulipanchakal School, and a children's park at the lighthouse complex in Batticaloa. 7

    Sri Lanka Navy has arrested nine Indian fishermen, who set out to sea on June 16, 2012 from the Akkaraipettai village near Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu state of India, when they entered in the Sri Lankan waters. They were produced before the magistrate and the local court has released them on June 20, 2012. Meanwhile, according to Consul General of India in Jaffna, the fishermen are awaiting for weather to clear for repatriation. 8

    In other developments, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sources, the investment growth in Sri Lanka's North and East have been affected due to land ownership issues. 9 Meanwhile, reports noted that Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission (HRC) has received less number of complaints this year in comparison to last year but 125 of the 170 complaints it received on torture in the last six months were against the country's Police Department. HR Commissioner, Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa has said the complaints had been recorded from January to June, 2012. 10