In a veiled and ambiguous statement the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said that the local judiciary does not have confidence of ‘many concerned’ and admitted that international assistance and expertise is a necessity in addressing allegations of War Crimes.
The statement cloaked with non-committal jargon and thinly veiled sentences however, calls for the need for a mechanism which is accepted by ‘all stakeholders’.
The BASL has continuously turned a blind eye to massive issues of chronic delays, unbearable fees asked my Lawyers, cronyism and procedural malfunctioning of the system.
However, during the end years of the Rajapaksa regime the BASL shifted to a politically motivated stance and challenged the incumbent regime, despite the continuance of chronic delays and lack of access to justice to the public.
The Colombo Telegraph learns the BASL has done very little for institutional and procedural correction, confining itself to conferences and non-specific media communiques.
Following is the full statement;
Mallaiyuran / November 29, 2015
“However, during the end years of the Rajapaksa regime the BASL shifted to a politically motivated stance and challenged the incumbent regime, despite the continuance of chronic delays and lack of access to justice to the public.”
That was Upul Jayasuriya.
Sumanthiran worked with New Royals and made sure he will not meddle into this again. Sriskantharajah was murdered and Siranee Bandaranaike was dismissed twice. Once Siranee Bandaranaike dismissed by Hakeem and Old King after that Sumanthiran and Ranil.
Anyway whore these comedians BASL? Ddi they travel to China with Old King anytime?
Don Stanley / November 29, 2015
Justice delayed is justice denied. The Sri Lanka courts work at snail pace because of all the stinking corruption within the justice system – starting from the stinking so called Minister of Justice who is an Avant Guard beneficiary.
Any procedure to FAST TRACK justice and process CORRUPTION CASES of politicians would be welcome so Alagaratnam needs to explain himself and the objection to a fast track process to clear Tamil minority community youth who have not been charged..
sarrij / December 2, 2015
It’s The Banana Repulic of Sri Lanka; STUPID.
Mallaiyuran / November 29, 2015
UNP and Sumanthiran playing this trick to water out the resolution. Is Geoffrey Alagaratnam, President Bar Association of Sri Lanka is a brother of UNP Sripavan?
Sinhala_Man / November 29, 2015
I have met Geoffrey Alagaratnam.
The main article itself says this:
“The BASL has continuously turned a blind eye to massive issues of chronic delays, unbearable fees asked my Lawyers, cronyism and procedural malfunctioning of the system.”
and Siri below says this, and more:
“All hate the black coats of Sri Lanka. . . .”
Well, let me tell you, that Alagaratnam does NOT fit in to that stereotype. He was recommended to me by a friend who asked me not to take advantage of his kindness. I had a pretty long consultation with him, and was charged NOTHING! The nature of my consultation was such, and he realised my situation.
Of course, he, too, must live. Probably, when representing the corporate sector he commands high fees. That surely will be understood by every one of us who has to earn a living! However, let me emphatically state that he is the most decent of human beings! That, and no other, must be the reason why he was elected President of BASL.
I sense undertones hinting at ethnic prejudices, although only five comments are visible at the time I write this. I gave myself the “Sinhala” handle that I have now been using for a long time now, with a certain purpose. At first, some started saying that I must be a masquerading Tamil; by now I have posted enough for people to know that such is not the case.
Please, let us focus on the real issues, and not let red herrings be drawn across the path of investigation in to FACTS.
Too many of the doings of the new regime which we elected so enthusiastically stink to high heaven; we must identify what is rotten before the infection spreads everywhere.
And thanks, Geoffrey Alagaratnam. I don’t think that you will be able to identify me because what my friend told me is that you often help for free. You are not only an outstanding lawyer, but also unusual in preferring to be gulled by some sob stories, rather than risk turning away somebody who really needs help.
Mallaiyuran / November 29, 2015
As the matters I said above were said discussed by writers and commentators already in CT, couple of times. So, I stayed on the Sarcastic side, did not write explanatorily. I do not not believe that is a defect on my comment. But you had something to say about Geoffrey Alagaratnam and you went ahead and said that. It does not cross with my comment.
Sriskandarajah was murdered for his his verdict(not getting along with Appe Andu) in Siranee Bandaranaike’s case. Upul Jayasuriya issued an statement on CT through his BASL ID, not with personal. Upul was silenced by UNP by offering him a job. Sriskandarajah’s case gone. Like Kathirgamar’s family, his family too cannot push the case. We know Sripahti’s case is not coming back. In these, it is the Lankan governments involved, Not one dictator.
Let not just look at one Geoffrey Alagaratnam. If the legal profession is perfect in its path, then the selection to BASL will be also proper. Other side too. BASL has a critical role to play in the unethical behaviour’s of the lawyers and Judges, who change their political sides with the changing governments, instead of being neutral professional. BASL cannot make laws and fix the problem, but certainly they can influence the legal community. After he was offered a job by UNP, Upul went silent and BASL not taking an stand on the Srikandarajah’s case. The reason is simple; UNP does not like Shiranee. Now neither Upul nor BASL is there.
In another angle, what happened to Shiranee is not going to affect the legal community mind because simple she herself was in the political game and she did the bought and sold too. She still is holding a lot of secrets about the UPFA’s legal and banking racketeering. That is not the case with Sriskandarajah. Whatever happened to him is serious blow the ethical practice of justice. He is a Tamil- one tender point. He issued a sincere verdict against Appe Andu-two tender points. So the Appe Andu taught a lesson to Tamils’ and other communities’ legal professionals not to rebel against it. Appointment Shiranee to CJ chair, on the first place, was a flawed one. BASL did not react and advocate for the members of it with the experience and talent. BASL is part and parcel of the deteriorating right abuse legal system of Lankawe. It watched inactively and encouraged this change. BASL did not react properly for her first UPFA dismissal. It did not condemn her second dismissal along with Mokan Peiris.
UNP and UPFA governments did not have any regard for the need of system’s respectability, locally and internationally. IIGEP rejected the Lankan court’s procedures and left the country. OISL sharply criticized the legal system and demanded Paranagama to close the commission and leave. But nobody cares about these. Udugama and Paranagama reports were presented in the parliament only after the demand to dismantle the Paranagama Commission. My question is when the entire legal system go shamelessly naked like this with not a respect to the worth of a penny, in which corner this BASL napping. Will Geoffrey Alagaratnam accept in a public statement the faults of the BASL. But he is extending his hand to fool the UNHRC’s resolution.
If Geoffrey Alagaratnam is a gentleman in his profession, I do not see his political stands would add up to standards. In this statement I only see the color and the creed of the Paranagama Commission report, which UNP purposefully presented in parliament to weaken the UNHRC resolution and evade it. We all read in news pieces that Paranagama accused government of war crime, but he openly denied.(he did not accuse the government). I believe Geoffrey Alagaratnam might have read the UNHRC resolution. If so, his first advice to the government should be not to cheat the UNHRC the way governments cheated in all previous agreement with Tamil leaders and India. As a lawyer, his first sentence on the statement should have been ” There is an obligation to honor the signature government put in UNHRC and should honor it. To fulfil that obligation government has to invite the commonwealth and foreign national in the process. Not renamed Sri Lankan national through the back door.” We have been telling at the time of the resolution the “foreign” means to the government is Sri Lankan Nationals who lost their citizenship by obtaining another country citizenship. BASL’s Geoffrey Alagaratnam may want to teach CJ Sripavan to properly interpret what was meant by “foreign” during the resolution time.
Thanks for the information about Geoffrey Alagaratnam.
Common Sense / November 29, 2015
It is interesting to note that the BASL president himself must sign this when there is a Secretary to do the same for this type of letter. The letter talks of the need for reconciliation, which is a process that every citizen must contribute for it to work and the government of the day can only give the leadership towards it. In that respect, the Sirisena-Wickramasinghe government has done much and no person with any sense can deny it. However, does the action of the President of the Association contribute towards it? I ask to tap his own heart and seek an answer. Any person with an iota of common sense knows that his writing at this stage only leads to tons of misunderstandings and let that be not be a nucleus of a black July 1983.
He himself should be more aware than us that his statement is a direct slap on the Chief Justice and the judiciary as a whole. Which country does not have black sheep? But the record speak for itself. Sri Lanka has the record of convicting the killers of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy. It also recently convicted some soldiers for gang rape. The judgement itself was respected by the entire country. Therefore he cannot say that the mechanism is biased. In the guise of a supposed lack of confidence the BASL is hinting of a bias. How can that be when the BASL itself elected Geoffrey as its President?
But the wheels of justice turn very slowly. Who is responsible for that? The great members of the BASL itself for seeking inordinate postponements. Good God! the straight forward divorce of a childless couple took five agonizing years, and was entirely due to postponements. Finally there came a judge who wanted to clear backlogs and it was cleared in two sittings. But what happened to him? Transferred to some other obscure place after the local big-wigs of the bar started conspiring against him.
Countries in the SAARC region itself which were much backward than us, like Bhutan has now introduced E-court services to win International awards. We! it is the great members of the BASL who scuttles the process in order to get there cases dragged on for years.
Geoffrey! Put your own house in order before you preach about others.
Siri / November 29, 2015
All hate the black coats of Sri Lanka. They are real thieves. Real blood suckers, masters in robbing their poor clients, and let the system in such way to do it to the hilt. They are heartless and inhuman when dealing and robbing their clients.
shankar / November 29, 2015
first get rid of all the corrupt and inefficent judges.To identify them just look at the quality of their jdgements and lenght of time it took.
do you need in international assistance for that or just commitment?
Plato. / November 29, 2015
Just the other day,Sarath de Abrew has been indicted in the High court for sexually molesting his domestic.First time ever,a JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT stands Trial in a High court! We have had types like Sarath. N.Silva, Mohan Pieris and what not.
So,the President of the BASL is quite right when he says….
It is unfortunate that the existing judicial and prosecutorial systems have not met the confidence of many concerned.
CT comments that the statement is cloaked with non-committal jargon and thinly veiled sentences….
Plato has read [Paters Library] the former Bar-Councils statements on National issues when E.B.Wicremanayake Q.C and S.Nadesan Q.C were Chairman of the old Bar-Councils.
The Language used was precise and clear.
But then,over the years the Bench and the Bar suffered due to the inroads into its Independence by the Executive!
NAK / November 29, 2015
This is nothing but laying the ground works for the upcoming constitutional changes to accomodate foreign judges in highbrid courts.
The process to send the military topbrass to the gallows is slowly but surely moving forward. It is not yet clear if they will achieve their main target sending MR and GR too to satify the diaspora bood thirst!
Nagananda / November 29, 2015
If I state what I want to say bluntly, ‘Sri Lanka lacks an independent Judiciary, which functions under absolute control of the Executive.
The circumstance under what circumstances Justice Sripavan was installed in the office of the Chief Justice is not a secret. The Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, who was appointed to the office by the new regime, as if he was restoring the pride and independence of the Judiciary, on 29th Jan 2015, recalled the unlawfully removed Chief Justice Bandaranayake (she was removed from the office by the Ex President Rajapakse). The Chief Justice, Bandaranayake was permitted to return to office subject to the condition that she would tender her resignation from office after 24 hours. She had no other option but to comply. This shameful act itself is good enough to demonstrate the state of good governance of the new regime, which effectively maintains the total control of the Judiciary.
Upali Wickramasinghe / November 29, 2015
Naganada: Thank you. You have spoken the truth.The difference between the former and the present Govt in in the degrees and not in quality.
Jeremy Ludikins / November 30, 2015
As a man Nagananda, I have no problems with your bona-fide. Name the country which has a perfect judiciary? None. It is the persons who are/was adorning the high offices in the Bench that gave credit to it.They gave judgements come what may. But your statement appears again indirectly supporting the head of your clan. Now clearly the timing of that statement is bad. It gives a bad taste and is a blow to advocates of reconciliation, which is a process that every citizen must contribute. There are citizens with all shades of opinion and first and foremost we need convince everyone that we are humans and every one must be treated with dignity. The plethora of misunderstandings that this statement has generated makes life difficult for volunteers like us to further our cause.
To put my point bluntly the recent conviction of some gang rapist soldiers did not generate any misunderstandings. If they are guilty of the offense that’s it. Who the Judge was never a subject of discussion or misunderstanding. But the statement of the President of the Bar Association unfortunately does. I am aware of his personal life and I think his personal beliefs did not influence his statement but it has generated a Tsunami of misunderstandings.
Damith / November 29, 2015
I totally agree with Nagananda. Both Rajapakse and Ranil Wickramasinghe persecuted Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
Worse thing is that the Chief Justice Bandaranayake is speechless and unable to talk at least to restore some pride in the highjacked justice system
CountryFirst / November 29, 2015
Sinhala Man and his praise of Geoffrey Alagaratnam may be designed towards making the current Unity Govt strategy look good.
However, as the old adage goes…”One swallow does not a summer make”.
The BASL has been a loud and vocal anti-democratic body that should have known better than to use intimidation and insults in order to remove CJ Mohan Pieris from office, reinstall CJ ShiraniB for ONE DAY, to enable her pension, and then promote Sripavan J. into the CJ seat.
With those low acts behind them, the BASL is not worthy of being listened to by the SOVEREIGN PEOPLE of this country who now find themselves in dire straits with a budget that will clearly take the country into further instability and destroy its once rising and stable economy that could have brought in more FDI, but will now have to do with the meager handouts from the West, whom the Unity Govt. unashamedly woos, but are still playing so hard to get…
vide Samantha Power remarks!
Sinhala_Man / November 29, 2015
You are reading far too much in to my innocent remark. I didn’t even know that Geoffrey Alagaratnam is now the BASL President until I was intrigued by seeing his name on this blog. I noted a few negative comments about him, personally, and thought I’d repay his kindness to me about four years ago by saying something nice about him.
I am firmly against racism. I also feel that some compromises have to be reached so that extremists on either side of the divide are deprived of issues that they can drum up. There should be forgiveness, but before that there should be genuine repentance. I don’t think that I have contributed in any way to increase race-related tensions; but I’ve taken it on myself to project to the Tamils the fact that there are many “moderate Sinhalese” who hope that there will be long-term peace in this country. It’s as simple as that!
I was very enthusiastic about the Maithri-campaign, at first mainly because I wanted the Rajapaksas removed, but later I began to think of Maithri as a shrewd and honest politician. In my eyes he could do almost nothing wrong, until the alarming reports about Kumarasinghe Sirisena and the planned Hutch deal began to appear. I have given my current thinking very clearly here:
I yearn for the day when all humans will live together without rancour. Maithri seemed to be doing just that, until the Kumarasinghe story began to emerge. I’m waiting to see which way we’re heading; I want to hear something that gives us hope that Maithri will root out corruption and nepotism, but when rationally considered, I see little that persuades me to be hopeful.
Ponkoh Sivakumaran / November 30, 2015
The fact is that the legal profession in Sri Lanka has become a den of thieves. Judges, who are selected from among the lawyers, can be no better. It is sad. Why not have the mess cleared up by getting foreign judges for a while. It would do the country good.
CountryFirst / November 30, 2015
Thank you for engaging in polite discussion/debate on a subject that is of concern to those of us on both sides of both the Yahapalana divide and the racial divide.
You say ” There should be forgiveness, but before that there should be genuine repentance. I don’t think that I have contributed in any way to increase race-related tensions; but I’ve taken it on myself to project to the Tamils the fact that there are many “moderate Sinhalese” who hope that there will be long-term peace in this country. It’s as simple as that!”
My problem re the racial divide and the ‘extremism of the Sinhala’ implied in your statement, is that while mistakes have been made by ‘Both Sides’, you seem to hold the Sinhala ‘moderates’ as trying to bring the peace while no credit is given and in fact those who brought and end to the war which now enables us to even talk of peace and get about without fear of IEDs and other roadside devices not to speak of suicide bombers, are considered to be ‘Sinhala extremists’!
As far as President Sirisena is concerned, I simply see him as a very crafty politician who will not hesitate to resort to any undemocratic and unconstitutional means to gain and stay in power despite all his honeyed words that lured many Southern Sinhalas like yourself to voters MR out. That was meant to be a lesson, but…..
How we get out of this mess with a Sri Lankan nation intact and a still surviving Sinhala community in this island, is anybody’s guess.
Sinhala_Man / November 30, 2015
Thanks for your kind tone. I don’t always know how to properly balance my views. I’ve always been a bit of a pacifist. But, yes, many a valiant soldier who perished did so with great commitment towards maintaining the unity of the country. But the sincerest were possibly the poorest.
Many do criticise me for not sufficiently appreciating the threat that we face, for being too concerned about the writer of this, who was a class-mate of mine, fifty years ago. We’ve re-established close contacts only recently, owing to the IT revolution:
I know that I don’t strike the correct balance; I think my friend is better at it, but he, too, gets pilloried on the the other side. What I sincerely feel is that each of the two linguistic communities in this island would do well to understand the other, and try to reign in those who adopt views that are not going to help fashion the future.
So, yes, in the process, I may not sufficiently appreciate the sacrifices of those who rid us of terrorism; but believe me, people like Rajan Hoole also contributed to ridding us of Prabhakaran; and now what do we offer them?
I don’t know what my answer should be; but thanks, CountryFirst, for your candour.
justice / December 1, 2015
“………………should be within the framework of Sri Lanka’s constitution”.
This is the ‘punch line’ which excludes anyone from abroad.
CountryFirst / December 1, 2015
Thank you for your civilized words expressing the dilemma of the ‘moderates’ who believe in Pacifism.
I am at heart a pacifist myself and did not learn about the real world of competition and the use of unprincipled, unscrupulous means to get ahead until I actually entered the workplace. I was of a generation that believed in the ideals professed by our philosophers, leaders and elders, but lost that innocence through experiences in the academic world where I had expected the best examples for the rest of society, and where they would be practised most diligently and passed on to generations to follow. But the subtle underhand racial discrimination that went on and was explained to me by none other than one of the ‘other ‘race, and the manner in which it had been manipulated in my personal case, to displace me from a position achieved through dedicated work and all the right qualifications. It was a traumatic shock but it educated me into Life’s realities.
Since then I have seen and understood many events in our racially divided country through that lens. Sadly, within each of our racial groups, other divisions also exist and these continue to be exploited in efforts to keep the stratifications entrenched. But by and large the mass of the Sinhala people who were so greatly discriminated against during the British colonial administration got their break only after Independence… and even Lord Soulbury understood and acknowledged that this neglect had to be compensated for. But the leaders among those who had got ahead during colonial times through a “divide and rule” policy were not willing to be patient, and had some arrogance in their perceptions of Sinhala capability…and therein lay the seeds of the struggle for superiority in our little island, expressed through the stated goal of self determination which cannot be realized without separation.
The Sinhala people know clearly how vulnerable they are in comparison to the Tamils of the world let alone the 72million already living across the Straits. However poor and uneducated, the Sinhalas, and the Buddhists especially, know what would inevitably follow for their culture with Federalism, and the inevitable follow-up of a separate state of Eelam. Can Tamil leaders look at the Sinhalas with understanding and compassion on this issue?
Thus far, the end of the war that has brought Peace to the island is enjoyed not only by the Sinhalas, but more so by the Tamil people, their young especially, who underwent so much oppression and terror in the name of freedom. However, what we see is “ONE HAND CLAPPING” for peace….and that is the hand of the Sinhala people. Sad to say, the utterances of the Tamil leaders do not show appreciation of the peace and freedom from terror that their community now enjoys, but their continuing demands show that they are marching inexorably towards their original goal expressed at Vaddukoddai way back in the 1970s. That goalpost has not been changed at all with the end of war.
The ‘change’ that you voted for, sad to say, is bringing with it Vengeance and Hate, reflected often in these columns too, very clearly. I just hope that it will exhaust itself soon, and this country can get down to the business of developing its potential, however slow it might be without having to sell its soul.
Native Vedda / December 2, 2015
Expand it further with more drama, more twists and turns, more gory, more history, …………… You should win next year Booker price and Nobel price for literature.
However, the same story has been written and rewritten in the past 100 or so years by paranoid and not so paranoid, without winning a single international price.
No harm in trying again and again.
K.A Sumanasekera / December 2, 2015
Is BASL now backing Mrs B’s Daughter instead of Batalanada Ranil?
“We are going to indict Military Personnel for War Crimes” said the Madam recently to a UN body in Colombo.
Is this the reason our President Bodhi Sira summoned the 9 Military Commanders who liberated the Nation from Thamil Pirahaparan.
Obviously our Judges who have a conscience will find it hard to convict the Military for liberating a Nation from a Terrorist who did terrible things for her inhabitants 3three decades,
That is why Mangalan and Batalanda Ranil want to import Foreign Judges.
And the Madam forced Bodhi Sira to agree…
Obviously BASL seems more than happy about it.
S.Yogi / December 3, 2015
Let see what is M3P,Ranil, Chandirica & MR Bros say about this……..?
Bar Association of Sri Lanka is walking up to the fact that they can’t find/give justice to Tamils BUT will the Sri Lankan President and the gang walk up?
H K Seneviratne / December 6, 2015
I welcome the sentiment expressed by the present President of Bar Association for following reasons-
The superior responsibility lies pursuant to UNHRC resolution requires the appointment of qualified new members of utmost independence and integrity to the new organs to take on accountability issues in alleged war crimes and crimes ageist humanity in addition to monitor human rights situation in Sri Lanka and to assess the adequacy of relevant national processes to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes in Sri Lanka committed by both parties to the conflict during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC),
It intends to address the adoption of new local legislation to criminalize war crimes and crimes against humanity and to make hybrid special tribunals integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators with the assistance of local resources of utmost independence and integrity and programmes to effectively mandate to prosecute those who bear responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity needed for the superior responsibility. It is imperative that this requires the assistance of international experts and adoption of special procedures with legal sanctity. It would be a near mockery if such a superior responsibility is bestowed on the local judiciary, judicial offices and heads of relevant institutions handpicked by former President Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) who are subservient to his regime.
UNHRC resolution also intends to address the alleged unlawful killings, violations related to the deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual and gender-based violence, abduction and forced recruitment, control of movement etc during the period covered by the LLRC.
Mathripala Samisen in his 2015 Presidential Election manifesto lamented the total breakdown of the rule of law and, fraud and corruption under MR regime and sought the peoples mandate “to overcome jungle law with justice, barbarism with courtesy, foolish family nepotism with noble wisdom and hatred with compassion”.
This justifies the formation of hybrid special tribunals for the superior task of the UNHRC resolution and its recommendations and we should whole heatedly welcome the same as an important step towards the struggle against impunity and to bring perpetrators of atrocities including those in the highest positions of power accountable for their acts and to restore lasting peace and stability in the country.
H K Seneviratne
Dimitry Gunasekera / December 9, 2015
Thank you BASL for the courage you have displayed keeping up the good old traditions and trying to be vocal and follow the footsteps of your predecessor UPUL J.
BASL has always spoken of issues that concern the country.
BASL has never been heard of talking of issues that concern the legal profession. Those have been settled by them amongst them.
BASL has always discharged its CSR responsibility unlike the doctors who always speak of their duty free car license, their overtime, preventing nurses from getting degree qualifications, preventing more doctors from getting qualified and serving the people etc, etc… How many people do they kill due to their brash negligence? Have you ever spoken? No! Look at former JMO Ananda Samarasekera. He has concocted a post mortem report and subverted the course of Justice in a Murder Case. (Thajudeen)
Where are the other professionals. Engineers, accountants, architects, teachers ! No body in the civil society has ever spoken of these issues?
No one in this column has ever criticized those who speak only of themselves!
Many do not even utter a word of those atrocities committed by the MR regime. Why? They were scared of their lives and that of their family members ! Fine. Then do not express your bravado in making heroic comments under pseudonyms taking cover, in these columns.
When the Previous Bar President Upul Jayasuriya had the guts to publicly pinpoint these atrocities and condemn, he was hounded out by the killer squares, lap dogs of Rajapaksha. what did those Heroic colloumnists do?
Now some say that he was a regime changer! Yes if the regime has to be changed it has to be changed. They have stuck their necks out to do something that others couldn’t do.
That’s part of the ‘brief’ of the lawyers. What did the lawyers in Pakistan do.? They are venerated by the entire country and the world. What are the lawyers in Malaysia doing. Malaysian Bar President Christ Leong was to be arrested and charged for making much milder statements he made on dictatorial acts of the government. They did not stop. The lawyers fought on. They deserve the accolades of the entire world.
Pl come and face the reality