16 June, 2019

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It Is Just A Hop, Skip And Jump From Enforced Disappearances To The Impeachment Of The CJ

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

It is clear by now that the attempted impeachment is being done in a completely lawless manner. The present approach adopted for the inquiry is no different to a committee consisting of a man’s enemies being assigned to conduct a murder trial against him. Regardless of the man’s guilt or innocence, the enemies will ensure that he will be found guilty and be hung.

There are many clips on YouTube about the mobs that gathered before the Supreme Court and the Parliamentary Complex shouting slogans against the Chief Justice and demanding her resignation. In no other country can you find examples of mobs gathering to shout slogans demanding that judges resign. Some of the people in the mobs who were interviewed directly named certain Members of Parliament from the ruling party as those who organised the mobs. It was thus clear that the mobs were organised by the government to shout slogans against the CJ. Thus, the responsible party for mobilising the mobs to bring down the prestige of the courts is the government itself. This is a government that is openly encouraging lawlessness. A government that mobilises mobs in this manner demonstrates no political will to keep law and order or to ensure respect for the institutions of the state. The result will be the government causing chaos in the country.

However, the history of the government resorting to lawlessness is not new in Sri Lanka nor is it confined to this government only. The most glaring example of absolute lawlessness is the manner in which various governments since 1971 have resorted to the causing of large scale disappearances.

In 1971, according to the statistics which came up at the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) the JVP was responsible for 41 civilian deaths, the killings of 63 and the wounding of 305 members of the armed forces. In retaliation, the United National Party government killed 5,000 to 10,000 young people and placed another 15,000 to 25,000 in arbitrary detention. As it is well known, a very small number of these would have been hardcore JVPers but there was little concrete evidence of engagement in any serious attacks against the majority. The procedure that was followed was arrest, torture during interrogation, killings and, for the most part, secret disposal of the bodies.

It is a universally recognised principle in law that, once a person is arrested, the state is under obligation to protect that person and produce them in court. It was this principle that, on government orders, the armed forces and the police openly flouted. The government neither expressed any regret for giving such orders nor did it ever conduct inquiries into such killings. Thus, this heinous criminal activity began to be accepted as a legitimate activity by the armed forces, police and the paramilitary.

Later, the causing of enforced disappearances was practiced on a much larger scale in the south, north and the east. In relation to the JVP uprisings from 1987 to 1991, the number of persons who were made to disappear was around 30,000, according to the statistics given by the commissions of inquiry into involuntary disappearances. Many are of the view that the numbers are much larger.

As for those who have been made to disappear from the north and the east from the early 80s to May 2009, no records have been made but obviously they would outnumber the enforced disappearances from the south. Once again, no government has ever expressed any regret about such killings and no attempt has been made to conduct any inquiries or hold anyone accountable. In fact, to demand inquiries into these enforced disappearances is considered treachery and an act which favours the LTTE. The simple issue of the protection that should have been afforded to an arrested person is no longer taken for granted in Sri Lanka. The principle that is really in practice is that after arrest, if the particular agencies so wish, a person could be extrajudicially killed or made to disappear altogether.

A complete transformation has taken place in the basic norms regarding crimes. What was universally considered a crime may not be considered a crime in Sri Lanka if, for some political or practical reason, the government wishes to treat them as not being such. Thus, the idea of crime has been relativised and the choice as to whether to treat even a heinous crime as a crime or not is now in the hands of the government in power.

It can be said that no other government in the region regards crimes in as much of a casual manner as is done in Sri Lanka. There are countries in which, due to certain historical reasons, there has been the collapse of their legal system and they have ignored basic norms of legality and illegality. Two such countries that are known to face such situations are Cambodia and Burma. However, even these countries have not gone to the extent of ignoring the criminality of an action to the extent that it is being done in Sri Lanka now. Even in situations like those of Cambodia and Burma, there is still protection for a person who has been arrested and taken into custody.

In a country where lawlessness has gone that deep, the illegal impeachment of a superior court judge, ignoring universally accepted norms regarding the removal of such judges, is merely a logical extension of the overwhelming disregard of the law.

The law now is that whatever the government does is correct and that the correctness will be demonstrated by the use of the mob under its control. Any kind of behaviour that a law abiding nation might consider illegal or even vulgar may go as decent and right in Sri Lanka under the present circumstances.

This is a bewildering situation and the implications are beyond comprehension. Both the rights of the individual, as well as property rights, will fall foul of this situation. Anyone who has the will to defy the law and has any connection with the government would be able to do whatever they like. Each individual citizen will learn about it when his or her rights are directly affected by this situation. There are already tens of thousands of people who have had that experience.

If the people thought that they might have some recourse to the courts and find some solace as in the past, that too will prove an illusion more and more. In a country where the Chief Justice herself is helpless before lawlessness how could any other citizen expect the protection of the law?

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Latest comments

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    The opposition in parliament should follow the Indian opposition and being an end to the proceeding in parliament until the impeachment of CJ is withdrawn by the regime.
    The UNP leader is a big part of the problem described here.. But we just have to work with the UNP and try to ensure that it follows a correct path under the slimy bastard Ranil till he can to gotten rid of.
    Rajapassas is the GREATER ENEMY of democracy and rule of law.
    The opposition must PROTEST the DIS-REPUTE to the legislature that Rajapassa regime’s actions of bringing helpless shanty dwellers to parliament and parliament road to protest the Chief Justice.
    This is a NATIONAL DISGRACE AND INSULT TO THE SOVERIGN PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA – a regime of hooligans and war criminals bringing disrepute to both the legislature and judiciary.
    Time has come for a massive joint opposition protest in parliament.
    Meanwhile the UNP dissidents who will now have the majority of member support to set up a new UNP.

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      Good idea, the opposition should join together to disrupt parliament proceedings and close it down until the impeachment of the CJ is withdrawn – follow the Indian model. Trade Unions and professionals and citizens should have a “day of protest’ against the impeachment and march on the streets for the LANKA SPRING at the same time..

      The Rajapakse regime of uneducated thugs, morons, and thieves and their cronies has brought such disgrace and SHAME ON THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT, the legislative arm of the country, by running a Kangaroo Court against the country’s first woman Chief Justice, and by bringing Mervin Silva’s riff-raff, that it is now time to shut down Parliament and clean it up before the politicians further disgrace the Sri Lankan people and nation!

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      CJ has walked out of the Kangaroo Court citing lack of faith in the PSC- the people of Lanka must join her in a no faith march against ALL the politicians at the Diya wenna Parliament in Banana Republic – particularly the farcical Chamal Rajapsassa and Ranil Wickramasinghe..!

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      Don.

      What I herd was most of the protests against the government that UNP parliament members propose…RW stops and back out them from proceeding.I have no idea why.

      More over when someone asked about Gen.SF joining UNP, RW said he could pay the membership fee and join the party.Is this the way RW try to run the party…..as an opposition party.

      Therefore these type of comments and his behaviour make me suspect what RW’s intention is…I still try to figure what his true character is….because it is hidden deep under. I must say one thing frank about him….and that is RW is the last person I want to hear talking in Sinhala. He mix his wordings and the tone of his voice and by the time the sentence is over both he and listner have forgotten what the topic is He does not resemble a leader and who could take the party members foreward with confidence and fearless.

      I can write pages, but after scores of years in politics where is his improvement…. we all know that as opposition leader he gets 86 million rupees a year…and all other perks. Is that enough to satisfy him. But people are looking for results and those results are invisible…..at the moment. Who knows what is for us in future as a Leading opposition party…..

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    The Chief Justice should sue the Observer Newspaper for a 900 billion rupees and ensure bankrupting and closure of that regime rag that is good to wipe Rajapassa’s ass!

    • 0
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      And his face afterwards

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    In Para. No: 4 of the article it is stated “……the United National Party government killed 5,000 to 10,000 ……”. It would be recalled the it was the SLFP led United Front Govt. that was in power and was responsible for the killings and etc. A correction is required.

  • 0
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    CJ and lawyers walk out of the hora court. Looks like it has become a farce.

  • 0
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    where is Ranil’s Latimer House rules??
    I do recall he was quite happy to have a govt.member as speaker when it should have been a UNP speaker of parliment.

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    The general impunity and lawlessness of this regime pervades all its actions. It is the sovereignity of the mob which the govt represents to the world as the people of Sri Lanka.
    From attacking the CJ to transfering Police Officers,removing customs officials and attacking Tamil students in the North it is the same thread of impunity and dictatorship.
    Unless the opposition take the battle to the Govt this trend will continue and consume all the democartic freedoms we cherish. A first step would be to boycott parliment and demonstrate on the streets. It is useless haveing an opposition or even parliment with this type of government. Unless there is a radical change in the constitution this will continue.

  • 0
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    Mr. Basil Fernando:
    Sorry to say that you know very little about the political history of the country.
    In 1971 there was no United National Party government. It’s only in you dream to attack UNP you have used the killings in 1971 by the SLFP-led United Front Government. I had some respect for your writings, but now I doubt how accurate you are in some of your writings. Before writing these articles please do a background check, otherwise you will tarnish your reputation.
    -Pandith

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    The writer has certainly not minced his words in describing the future of Sri Lanka as he perceives. It must take much courage to explicitly express his feelings and emotions if what he says about lack of law enforcement and legality is true…!

  • 0
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    Its Hop, Step and a Sinker…………BY Basil F’do
    Universally accepted principle of law is to avoid DISTORTING facts.

    Sing for your supper BY DEFAULT AND and deceit.
    Aiyo…. AHRC Can not deceive all people all the time, NGO…. ..

    IN 1971, THE UNITED NATIONAL PARTY WAS NOT IN POWER.
    Neither was the CJC established.

    The UNP retaliated against JVP in late eighties……That Batalanda saga,
    and people fleeing the country for their lives.
    UNP brought them to heel the same manner UPFA brought LTTE to heel.

    CJC was established by Warrant dated 16 May 1972, issued under the hand of
    H/E William Gopallawa, the Governer General of Ceylon by the powers vested in him
    by the Criminal Justice Commission Act No. 14 of 1972.

    17th May 1972, the Chief Justice appointed five Judges of the Supreme Court
    to be the Members of the Commission.

    The first public sitting was conducted on 12th of June 1972.

    Quote “on government orders, the armed forces and the police openly flouted”
    When & where was this order made & by whom ???
    Any gazette notification or a Circular?? If not this is either speculation, imagination or hallucination.

  • 0
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    First I thank CT for bringing these news to us all readers.

    Both Gon 9th grade rowdy kelawaddas Wimal Gonwansa and Dilan who were languishing in streets looking for work before were turned into politics for their own survival.
    They have no right to insult the chief Justice who should file a case against them for SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND FOR INSULTING HER IN PUBLIC.

    Who is this pi.p Wimal who think he is to call an educated, cultured and respectable CJ to call her ‘Baby’ and ‘Nona’.
    He can find a ‘baby’ at night after 9 pm in Kelaniya or Thotalanga Junction….or call his friend Mervin to find one.

    CJ should immediately file a case against both on Sexual Harassment charges both Local and International courts, with the help of Supreme courts.

    Second what CT must do is to collaborate with Supreme Court to work with International Judiciary, Commonwealth Jurists, Asian Human Rights Association, US and UK courts to file a case against Govt. of Sri Lanka for not giving her rights to proceed with this Impeachment case along with the sexual harassment she had to face during the last PSA hearing.

    They could implement a Travel Ban to all Govt. members if the Govt. did not give a satisfactory reason for abandoning the trial.

    Third what CT must do is to collaborate with Supreme Court to work with International Judiciary, Commonwealth Jurists, Asian Human Rights Association and with Interpol to get all the information relating to local and foreign investments, both financial, real estate and others …like land, farms , shares, bonds ets that are owned by all the ruling family, parliament members and their family members and friends, in and out of Sri Lanka.

    This is a MUST and URGENT which CT along with Sri Lanka Bar Association, Supreme Court and the CJ that could initiate this with the help of International Courts, Interpol, and the Sri Lankan Diaspora.

    Fourth CT should work with SC and other law enforcement departments to give additional protection to CJ, her family and her Lawyers. THIS IS A MUST.

    I hope CT and the Judiciary will help Sri Lankan citizens by protecting CJ and to trace these Black money which actually belong to them and could bring justice to all of them.

    Thank You.

  • 0
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    Your article is good but do not make factual errors.
    It was in 1971 not the Unite National Party government but United Front composed of SLFP. LSSP and CP.

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