The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to place its hopes on Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma seeking the protection of the Secretariat ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November, the Colombo Telegraph learns.
Sharma has promised to assist the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to regain its status as a credible mechanism after the Commission was downgraded to “B” status.
The Commonwealth Secretary General recently dispatched a team for a dialogue with the HRC in Colombo. During the discussions the Commonwealth team has assured they will help the HRC to raise its standards and build capacity in a bid to help the commission to uplift its standards putting the past behind. Human Rights Commissioner Prathibha Mahananama told our sources that looking beyond the past was essentially mean that the HRC would not focus on the post-war period but look to the future.
Colombo Telegraph further learns that during the recent visit of External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris to London,conversations have taken place between the Sri Lankan Minister and Secretary General Sharma with specific reference to the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to the island last week. Pillay who left Colombo on Sunday issued a strong criticism against the country’s human rights record and said after the war, Sri Lanka’s “democracy was undermined and the rule of law eroded.” She warned that the country was moving in an increasingly “authoritarian direction.”
Minister Peiris has appealed to Sharma to help Sri Lanka to mitigate the damage caused by Pillay’s departing remarks in Colombo. The Commonwealth Secretary General has promised to take effective measures to protect Sri Lanka’s image ahead of the CHOGM and do what is possible to reverse the adverse impact of Pillay’s fact finding mission, Colombo Telegraph learns.
The Secretary General is seen as being increasingly prejudicial towards Sri Lanka after it was exclusively revealed by Colombo Telegraph that he had buried legal opinions sought by the Secretariat on the Sri Lankan impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. The legal opinions from eminent Commonwealth jurists are believed to have opined that Bandaranayake’s impeachment was flawed but Sharma saw fit to keep the documents even from the powerful Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group. The move has drawn serious criticism of the Secretary General from within CMAG.
Colombo Telegraph can now also reveal that it was the Commonwealth Secretary General who advised the Government of Sri Lanka to reverse the Supreme Court and Appeals Court orders against Bandaranayake’s illegal impeachment prior to CHOGM in order to retroactively legitimise her sacking.
Highly placed legal sources said that the the case filed by the Attorney General to reverse those judgments is expected to come up at Supreme Court on September 26 with a judgment to be delivered with ample time left before the summit takes place.