Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pedophile Chief Monk Convicted In UK – Runs Orphanage In Lanka

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya


Convicted pedophile, Chief Sanghanayaka Thera of Great Britain and chief incumbent of the Thames Buddhist Vihara Pahalagama Sri Somaratana continues to run an orphanage for under age children in Gampaha.
Pahalagama Somaratana, was convicted at Isleworth Crown Court in London on Tuesday,  on four counts of indecent assault on a female under 10 years between January 1, 1977 and December 31, 1978.
Somarathana runs an orphanage called Pahalagama Orphanage in Gampaha. According to "THE GAZETTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA -Part II of May 07, 2010, the Pahalagama Sri Somarathana Nayaka Thero Foundation", a private Bill presented in Parliament by Vijitha Herath, MP for the Gampaha District, Somaratana can establish and maintain institutions for educational and social service activities such as children's' homes, elders' homes, hostels and other social service institutions.
"We would like to unequivocally request the Government of Sri Lanka's institutions for Child Protection which are the Ministry for Child Development and Women's Affairs, the National Child Protection Authority and Department of Probation to look into the orphanage run by Ven. Pahalagama Somaratne. A monk convicted of sexual violence cannot be responsible or trusted with tender young lives. This orphanage ideally should be brought under state control or be handed over to a respected and credible organization to run. In the alternative, it can be closed up and the children transferred to other orphanages. The state cannot abdicate its responsibility by the children of this country," the head of Colombo-based "Justice for Victims" Visakha Tillekaratne said,
After visiting the Pahalagma Orphanage Visaka Tillekaratne said, "they look extremely vulnerable with not much happiness on their faces".
"Children living in orphanages or homes are more prone to child abuse because of several reasons," a former Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority Prof. Harendra de Silva said.  "They are powerless and have no parents or relations: to whom can they complain? Only to the authorities in the home who are likely to be the perpetrators or linked to the abusers through monetary or power gain. Some are dependent on the persons for employment and are likely to be silent – 'passive perpetrators'", Prof. Silva pointed out. However, Child Development and Women's Welfare Minister Tissa Karaliyedda said that he was not aware of the conviction of Ven. Somaratana Thero and that he would have to look into the legal aspect of him running an orphanage if found guilty by the courts.
He said that there were other monks who operated orphanages in the country and was therefore unable to identify the Pahalagama Orphanage by name.
Karaliyedda said that he would now look into the matter.


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