Expressing commitment to the Rule of Law, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) launched its own official newspaper “The Bar Reporter” yesterday (28.06.2013).
The newspaper is published monthly by the Secretary, BASL on behalf of the BASL. It is printed by Leader Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, with media coordination by Independent Media Network (Pvt) Ltd.
Very senior President’s Counsel N. R. M. Daluwatte attended the function at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo as Chief Guest. Unlike many high ranking people in the system, Daluwatte has an unblemished record of always having stood for the independence of the judiciary and the fight to protect the rights of the legal profession. The function, which was an official function of the Bar Association was attended by lawyers of different political leanings without political differences. Most of the best known senior lawyers and President’s Counsel were present at the occasion, which was followed by cocktails and music.
Several senior lawyers told The Colombo Telegraph that the choice of an elderly senior lawyer who has stood against interfering with the judiciary and politicizing the legal profession under many governments rather than a high ranker of the system seems to send a clear and powerful message.
At the official launch, President of the Association, senior lawyer Upul Jayasuriya who was elected by a massive majority of the legal profession, stressed that this newspaper is an essential need in today’s context. The newspaper begins with an existing circulation of over 12000 people, who are the members of the association.
The Editor-in-Chief is Attorney S. P. Sriskantha, Attorney at Law who is Chairman of the Newspaper Committee of the BASL, who spoke and highlighted at length the importance of what was being launched. In the first editorial, he states “Fortunately, unlike most other newspapers “The Reporter” is not saddled with the fear of threats to desist from reporting vital matters or be caught up in a strategic move of being bought over lock stock and barrell, literally to shut us up. This is so, as “The Reporter” is the property of the Bar Association and one will have to think twice before crossing swords with an united Bar.” He pledged that the newspaper will work towards making the country a better place to live in by carrying correct news without fear or favour.
The Colombo Telegraph, which not being run from within Sri Lanka was able to report previously that the Rajapaksa regime has been trying to work out a way to ‘capture‘ the Bar Association by somehow getting a lawyer with links to the regime or benefiting from it elected as its next President. This method has so far been used successfully by the regime on the higher judiciary.
Rajindh Perera, Attorney at Law, Convenor of the Newspaper Committee of the BASL gave an impressive vote of thanks at the end of the launch press conference.
At this occasion, the newly revamped website of the BASL (www.basl.lk) was relaunched and for the first time, an interactive texting service was launched enabling the BASL to have instant contact with its vast membership via SMS messaging. Lawyers shortly received a message from the BASL President by SMS, announcing the success of the launch and inviting responses or suggestions from members of the profession.