Public interest litigator Nagananda Kodituwakku has written to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London alleging that contempt procedures are being deliberately abused in order to silence him.
Kodituwakku refers to an ongoing contempt case (SC/Rule/2016) initiated against him and alleges that the action is aimed at subverting his activism on behalf of the citizens by preventing him practice his legal profession. He claims that these moves have been prompted by the fact that he has dedicated himself to upholding the rule of law and the constitution of the country.
He has therefore requested that an observer from the Commonwealth Secretariat or an affiliated organization be present at the contempt hearing in the Supreme Court ‘to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka adheres to its obligations under the Commonwealth Latimer House principles and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.’
The full text of Kodituwakku’s letter is given below:
The Secretary General
24th May 2018
Sri Lanka: Violation of the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles & abuse of contempt proceedings to silence a Public Interest Attorney
I write further to my letter delivered at Commonwealth Secretariat, London on 27th April 2018 drawing the attention of the Commonwealth to the deterioration of judicial independence and administration of justice in the Republic of Sri Lanka (a copy of the letter is attached hereto).
The letter under reference is self-explanatory and provides an insight into Sri Lanka’s judiciary, which is no more an independent, impartial, honest and competent institution, owing to direct violation of Commonwealth Latimer House Principles by all three organs of the Government of Sri Lanka.
As such, the life of the handful of rights activists in the country has become extremely vulnerable to threats, persecution and removal from the legal profession. This is borne out by the fact that certain elements in the judiciary who resent genuine and justifiable criticism are abusing judicial office by instituting contempt proceedings against such rights activists, in order to silence them. Regrettably, they and their supporters ignore the fact that such deplorable actions could justify and further strengthen the existing call for foreign Judges in Sri Lanka.
The on-going contempt case (SC/Rule/1/2016) initiated against the undersigned public interest litigation activist, who is dedicated and committed to upholding the rule of law and the constitution of the country, is the best example in this regard.
The content of the Motion filed in Court on 23rd May 2018 (copy attached) further reveals cogent first-hand evidence relating to the functioning of the three organs of the government in the country.
In view of the above, the presence of an observer from the Commonwealth Secretariat or an affiliated organisation, at the contempt hearing in the Supreme Court is requested to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka adheres to its obligations under the Commonwealth Latimer House principles and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Your prompt assistance in these trying and difficult circumstances will be highly appreciated by all those who value democratic values in the country.
The next date of the hearing can be notified in advance.
Solicitor (England and Wales) & Attorney-at-Law (Sri Lanka)