October 8, 2019

Major General de Silva to return

Major General Prasanna de Silva – the defence adviser at the Sri Lanka high commission in London – is to return to Sri Lanka soon, the Guardian newspaper reported.This comes as an organisation representing the Tamil diaspora was set to launch legal action against the British Foreign Office over its failure to confront Major General de Silva over allegations of being involved in alleged war crimes. The Foreign Office confirmed it had received a dossier on Silva in January and had advised the NGOs who compiled it – the Society for Threatened Peoples, Trial and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights – to pass “any credible evidence” on to the Met.“We also looked closely at the dossier ourselves,” said an FCO spokesman. “However, while we were assessing this evidence, we were notified that Silva was planning to move on soon.” The spokesman said that while the British government takes all such allegations very seriously, he was unable to comment on the legal action brought by the GTF.Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden and vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Tamils, described the FCO’s failure to act sooner on the dossier as “unfathomable”. The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) alleges that Silva was involved in systematic attacks on Tamil civilians between January and May 2009 when he was a senior commander in the Sri Lankan army. It has emerged in the last few days that Silva is soon to return to Sri Lanka, raising fears that he may avoid questioning. The FCO’s legal advisers have also written to the GTF’s solicitors, Birnberg, Peirce and Partners, informing them there will be a two-week delay in dealing with the case because of the Easter recess.A spokesman for the Sri Lankan government told the Guardian on Wednesday night that Silva was going home because his 18-month term as defence adviser was almost up, adding: “The claim of a lawsuit by the GTF has nothing to do with this routine transfer matter and it appears to be yet another invidious attempt to embarrass both Sri Lankan and British governments and a continuation of GTF’s history of attempting to gain misplaced publicity mileage for events it has nothing to do with.” The Sri Lankan high commission has previously described allegations against Silva as “highly spurious and uncorroborated” and accused British media of seeking “entirely falsely, to implicate members of the Sri Lankan government and senior military figures” in such acts.The GTF – which points out that the dossier in the hands of the Metropolitan police has also been in the possession of the FCO since late January – worries that Silva will have left the UK by the time action is taken.“All we are seeking is justice for the hundreds of thousands of innocent people who allegedly perished at the hands of the likes of Prasanna de Silva and others,” said a spokesman. “Our kind request to the secretary of state is to let the legal process decide whether Maj Gen Silva is guilty or not guilty.” The GTF, he added, has “complete faith in the British justice system”. It decided to press for a judicial review of the FCO’s actions after the British foreign secretary, William Hague, refused to declare Silva persona non grata and strip him of his diplomatic immunity so he could be questioned over the allegations. Scotland Yard has been handed a dossier on the allegations facing Silva but has refused to comment further on the matter. “It does seem extraordinary [for the FCO] to take no action and just rely upon the Sri Lankan government to withdraw him,” she said. “Given the evidence and that the government saw the dossier from the NGOs, why on earth did they take no action?”The British government’s behaviour, she added, would send an unfortunate message about the UK’s commitment to human rights. “If you get a reputation for taking people who there are serious allegations of war crimes against, do other countries do the same thing?” she said.“Do we want people who have those allegations against them here? Do we want people to think that we’re an easy or a soft option?”Fred Carver, the campaign director of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, said he could not believe that the British government had accepted Silva’s diplomatic accreditation in the first place.“Any intern equipped with Google and a working mouse could have determined that there were credible allegations against Silva,” he said.“Now they know what they should have previously suspected and investigated, they should not hesitate to revoke it before it is too late. If they do nothing then Silva’s unhindered return will be rightly interpreted as signifying that Britain is soft on war crimes suspects.” read more

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September 24, 2019

Proximity detection in coal mines can help meet zero fatality targets

first_imgWith an industry target set to eliminate mining fatalities by 2020 and reduce Lost Time Injuries by 20% from January 2017, the pressure is on mines and their suppliers, including those in the field of proximity detection systems (PDS), to meet this vital goal. “Transport-related incidents are still one of the top causes of fatalities, alongside fall-of-ground,” says Anton Lourens, managing director of leading PDS OEM Booyco Electronics. “While deaths in mining fell 5% to a record low of 73 in 2016 and injuries fell 15% to 2,662 last year, there is still a long way to go meet the 2020 target.”Lourens says PDS is a key part of the sector’s strategy to implement zero harm, and is already a legislated requirement for underground coal mines, who need to ensure their systems are ‘fit for purpose’ in order to comply. “Coal mines continue to make strides towards better safety, with the injury rate in 2016 down 11% to 183 from 206 in 2015,” he says. “Continued progress requires ongoing compliance and dedication to implementing not just the letter but the spirit of the law.”PDS allows for interventions where a potentially dangerous situation exists between a pedestrian and a machine. The system includes a sensing device, to detect the presence of an object in a working area, and an audible and visual alarm to both the equipment operator and pedestrians as they enter danger zones. It can also help locate people and machinery if there is an emergency underground. Apart from the safety aspect, this technology helps mines to locate pedestrians and vehicles underground, providing data that can be analysed for patterns that affect production efficiencies.“The groundwork for the wider application of PDS has already been laid down by the Department of Mineral Resources, through an amendment to Chapter 8 of the Mines Health and Safety Act (MHSA) in February 2015,” he says. “It is now required that PDS be installed on all mobile equipment on mines.”He highlights that mines are required to assess significant risk in terms of moving machinery and people, and to put an action plan in place to mitigate that risk. One of the challenges, however, is that some mines still consider PDS a ‘grudge purchase’, and do not fully understand their legal responsibility to choose suppliers whose equipment is fit-for-purpose.“While it may be tempting for a mine to select the cheapest equipment, they will need to prove in the case of an inspection or an accident that the equipment is up to the task and compliant,” says Lourens. “Even from our point of view as PDS suppliers, we have a legal responsibility to deliver a reliable solution, as suppliers can also be legally charged if the equipment fails to comply.”He says not only does the revised MHSA put considerable legal onus on both users and suppliers, but the Department of Mineral Resources has been actively enforcing compliance with the new legislation.Booyco Electronics’ PDS has gained a reputation for helping mines protect their people – their most important asset. Lourens says it was developed as part of the Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) that provides underground and surface mining operations with a web-based application and robust database to optimise mine safety and ensure compliance to legislation.“Our PDS was developed using the latest electronic technology to facilitate effective and reliable communication, and is suitable for use both underground and on surface,” he says. “The PDS transfers information between users via Booyco Electronics’ Human Machine Interface; system communication is exchanged with operators using icons making it easy to understand.”last_img read more

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