We know that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) does not put in demands for the benefit of the Lawyers only. In fact they hardly do that. They mostly speak for the others. That’s in Court and outside through the BASL. This is where they differ from some other professional congregations. They do not object to large numbers joining as Lawyers unlike some others.
During the JVP insurrection in 1989-90 BASL filed thousands of Fundamental Rights applications in Court that were successful.
That’s not all. They have taken up many a public interest litigation for the benefit of the public. BASL went to Rathupaswala when innocent people were shot and killed in cold blood. BASL went to Beruwela and stood by the unarmed people whose houses and the businesses were set fire to. BASL went to mannar when a mass grave was found. They were not scared of the brutal regime that had unleashed the white vans and a killing spree.
It’s resilience was at its peak as they came forward for the protection of the media when they were hounded out. The government became intolerant and sent killer squads on un numbered motor cycles and three wheelers after its President then, Upul Jayasuriya. He was unstoppable.
The only time we heard that the BASL became active in the recent past was when actor turned politician challenged the integrity of the members of the judiciary and the Bar. That was in an era where one of the former Chief Justices publicly apologized to the nation for having sent a man to the kings house instead of sending him to the jail house. Another Chief Justice had informed the President that he would give judgements anyway he wants…..another judge of the Supreme Court was charged with rape.
There is a huge catastrophe that has taken place in the country with nearly 300 dead and an equal number wounded. Entire world has focused its attention on Sri Lanka. Much has been said in the media about the political skullduggery that has been perpetrated by highly placed public officials entrusted with the security of the country, who have neglected or ignored the advance information that was conveyed to them by certain foreign organizations.
There has to be responsibility. They cannot be allowed to get away scot-free. They have to be punished. Surely there must be a law to punish them on their criminal negligence irrespective of their position. I hope the BASL is already on the ball. If not please get moving before the evidence is brushed aside. (By Sanka Jayasekara)