5 December, 2020

Blog

International Commission Of Jurists Condemns Attack On The Judicial Services Commission

By Colombo Telegraph

The Sri Lankan government must immediately provide justice for the physical assault on Manjula Tillekaratne, Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission in Sri Lanka, and cease public efforts to undermine the independence of the country’s judiciary, the International Commission of Jurists said today.

Unidentified persons assaulted the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission on the morning of 7 October 2012.  Lawyers and judges held a strike on Monday to protest recent and escalating threats to judicial independence in Sri Lanka.

‘This physical assault is another terrible step downward in the ongoing effort to undermine the judiciary and the rule of law in Sri Lanka,’ said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director. ‘The Sri Lankan government has to investigate this event and bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure that the country’s judges are secure from assault and intimidation.’

Earlier in September, the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa had demanded a meeting with the Chief Justice and two members of the JSC.  The JSC refused the request, citing the implications of such a meeting on the independence of the judiciary.  The request came in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down a pending bill before the parliament – the “Divi Neguma Department Bill,” which proposed to establish a new department by amalgamating the Samurdhi Authority, Southern Development Authority and the Udarata Development Authority. If passed, the bill would confer wide powers to the Economic Development Minister as well as access to funds.

State-controlled print and electronic media then engaged in a public campaign of vilifying the Chief Justice and other members of the JSC who are also sitting Supreme Court Justices. On 18 September 2012, the JSC directed its Secretary to issue a public statement citing the baseless criticism of its members in the state electronic and print media.  The JSC indicated that it had been subjected to threats and intimidation.   Notably, the JSC said it was subjected ‘to various influences after the Commission initiated disciplinary action against a judge.’

On 28 September 2012, JSC Secretary Manjula Tillekaratne expressed concern for ‘the security of all of us and our families beginning from the person holding the highest position in the judicial system.’

‘The effort to use State-controlled media to browbeat and intimidate judges is an egregious assault on the independence and impartiality of Sri Lanka’s judiciary. An independent judiciary is a necessary precondition to safeguard human rights,’ said Zarifi.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary makes clear that it is the responsibility of the State to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary, protecting judges from any improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interference.

In recent months, the independence of the judiciary has come under attack in Sri Lanka.  In July 2012, Government Minister Rishad Bathiudeen threatened a Magistrate in Mannar and then orchestrated a mob to pelt stones and set fire to part of the Mannar courthouse.  Lawyers and judges held a nation-wide strike to protest the incident.  The Bar Association of Sri Lanka as well as the Judges Association of Sri Lanka issued public statements condemning the attacks.

CONTACT:

Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Geneva)

t:+41(0) 22 979 38 00; email: sam.zarifi@icj.org

Sheila Varadan, ICJ Legal Advisor, South Asia Programme (Bangkok), t: +66 857200723; email: sheila.varadan@icj.org

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    The once sublime reputation of the vibrant and fiercely independent judiciary has been shamelessly brought down by the Rajapakses when the ICJ critically noted “on going effort to undermine the judiciary and the rule of law in Sri Lanka” The crude effort to “summon” the CJ to the feet of the President allegedly to discuss financial provisions for the judiciary is no dis-similar to Idi Amin personally calling the Ugandan CJ in his Chambers to attempt to influence a judgement. For that and many other illegal acts Idi Amin was viewed no different to an animal in the world of that day. Discussions of financial provisions for the SC or the judiciary should be conducted by senior officials in the Justice Ministry and the Finance Ministry. And, in the distorted democracy of the Rajapakses one supposes officials of the Presidential Secretariat also may like to flaunt their two cents worth.

    Will the CJ show the required backbone and due decency to resign forthwith in protest against these clear assaults on the independence of the judiciary or will it be settled by the gift of another Audi?

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      Resignation of the CJ called by Senguttuvan is just what MR wants so that he could appoint his own person.May be the myrmidon MP. I think CJ must not budge now.

      • 0
        0

        Simhi, true CJ should stay put and take MR on. We should thereafter encourage CJ to defy MR. Like it is said, ‘Uragey malu, Urageyma thiyala kapannda oney’. That is, cut the fleah of the Pig on the Pig itself.

  • 0
    0

    I am convinced the resignation of the CJ will cause the greatest adverse affect to Mahinda Rajapakse – both within and without Sri Lanka. The relationship between her former patrons and her are so bad today she cannot last long. She either resigns with some honour or is
    forced to go – probably on the fallout of her now tainted and disgraced spouse.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      Senguttuvan, there is a saying in Sinhalese, ‘Yana Yaka Korahath bindagena yanawa’. I believe CJ should stay put and INTERNATIONALISE this issue. Then we can see from the reponse of other Nations, how genuine their concern towards Sri Lanka is? How sincere their efforts are in preserving Democracy. It will be a good acid test for Barak Obama and others. MR can not just implicate CJ’s husband alone as the deal between NSB and The Finance was done with the blessings of MR. Let the whole thing come out. In other words let the shit bucket hit the ceiling fan.

  • 0
    0

    I have no dispute with Gamini. “Blessings of MR” cannot be proven in Court or otherwise. What happened to Manjula Tilakaratna is a warning to others in the judicial process not to play with the new fire in as much as Sirpathi Sooriyaratchi’s “accidental death” was widely believed to be a warning to others not to mess around with the Mafia that has constitutionally taken over the land. The CJ will know heart of heart she’s a gonner. Question is when and how soon will she go.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
    0

    It is about time . Why does Basil want to control all this money. Does he feel his two brothers have more or what. Anyway why all the secerecy . These are public funds and we have a right to know how and where it was spent. Who the do these guys think they are

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.