The United National Party notes with concern the arrest of Royce Fernando, member of the UNP and a candidate at the forthcoming Western provincial council election.
As a Party constantly calling for the restoration of the rule of law, the UNP regards these allegations against our candidate with the gravity and seriousness that they are due. It is unfortunate that it has been the norm in recent times to victimise political opponents on trumped up criminal charges. Therefore, the UNP calls upon the law enforcement authorities to carry out this investigation in an impartial, transparent manner, disallowing political interference or partisanship in this election season in order to restore public faith in this country’s justice system.
In recent times, palpable disgust has built among the general public in Sri Lanka about the ruling regime’s patronage of and asylum for hardened criminals, drug barons, rapists, and murderers within its ranks.
The impunity enjoyed by criminal elements within the ruling party, from Ministers and provincial councillors to pradeshiya sabha members who stand accused of grave crimes, has eroded public confidence in the legal system and the fundamental right of equality before the law. If the Government`s law enforcement agencies that act with such speed and skill in investigations against opposition members and activists showed similar zeal towards inquiries into drug scandals that have erupted in the high offices of the Prime Minister no less, faith in the system may be restored. When the residence of UPFA Western Provincial Minister Nimal Lanza was raided by the Special Task Force, President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived by helicopter to smooth the situation over and prevent the investigation from going any further. Such blatant patronage for partymen under the scrutiny of law enforcement is a shocking indictment on the extent to which politicisation has seeped into the system.
As a responsible opposition, we cannot contribute to the further disillusionment of the people. It is time for Sri Lanka’s people to learn to be able to hope for a more just and accountable political culture under an alternative political leadership.
The UNP pledges that in the event that Mr. Royce Fernando or any other member of the party is pronounced guilty through an impartial, transparent and just legal process, we will not stand in the way of the law taking its course. This party will neither protect nor defend criminal elements, whatever their rank, profile or affiliation. There is no room in the UNP for members who fail to uphold and respect the law of the land. As a party striving to make a political difference, it is our fervent pledge to be different. It is our hope that the public will learn to make the distinction.
*Statement Issued by the United National Party