6 August, 2020

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It’s Sri Lanka’s Justice System, Not Just One Case

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena –

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena -

The predictability of it all would be laughable if it was not so deplorable. In a perfect world, the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) would never have been held in Sri Lanka which, under this Presidency, symbolizes a complete negation of all the values that the Commonwealth stood for.

A useless extravaganza

Yet, as trade-offs continue between Sri Lanka’s spin masters and foreign leaders whom the government dearly wishes to entice into attending this extravaganza, we can only stand back and chuckle.

The pressure exerted by the Indian government on the Rajapaksa Presidency into holding the Northern Provincial Council election was at least an exercise well worth the effort given the energy that this has injected into the political process.

But other exercises are far more contemptible, for example the shameful consensus that is now being forged between Australia’s new government and this administration in stopping, by foul means or fair, refugees heading to Australia’s shores in exchange for that country’ support and presence at Sri Lanka’s CHOGM summit.

These cynical trade-offs do not stop there. The filing of direct indictment by the Attorney General this week against the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha chairman and his cronies, (all essential allies of the Rajapaksa’s Southern strongholds or strangleholds as the case may be), in regard to the murder of a British tourist and the brutal rape of his Russian girlfriend has not come about as a magnificent act of benevolence. Instead, it is directly linked to the British government’s intense interest in the case during the run-up to CHOGM. Discerning the link does not need wisdom of a particularly acute kind.

Exceptional cases do not make the norm

True enough, indictment has been filed and we are told that a special prosecutor will be appointed for this case. But whether it is the Khuram Sheikh killing or indeed the 2006 murders of the students in Trincomalee or the killings of the seventeen aid workers in Mutur that same year, the question is not exceptional pressure which propels minimal action being taken in one case or the other.

Rather, the central issue is Sri Lanka’s justice system and the general breakdown of the Rule of Law which makes the holding of the CHOGM here close to an obscene exercise. For each exceptional case that is pushed by foreign governments, there are hundreds more instances where victims or their family members languish without relief. And on each instance that the Attorney General refuses to prosecute or the Supreme Court refuses to hear despite clear evidence of violations, we are pushed closer to a despotic state regardless of international summits and useless perorations on the value of democracy. These are however not preoccupations that appear to interest the Commonwealth.

So the privileging of justice in Sri Lanka depends on whether a foreign government takes an interest in a particular case or not. And while Canada’s Prime Minister must be applauded for his steadfast refusal to attend the CHOGM, perhaps we must be glad that no Canadian tourist has been murdered in Sri Lanka or that the country has not been afflicted by boat people who, as we are told repeatedly by the Australian government, insist on landing on their shores in gargantuan numbers though skeptics scoff at these exaggerations.

Witness protection or witness elimination?

Last week’s reporting in this newspaper of an Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crimes Bill due to be presented in Parliament soon is yet another pre-CHOGM tradeoff. We have not been apprised of its substantive contents. At the outset, it remains a question as to why the Division for the protection of witnesses is located (separately, we are told but there can be no effective separation) within the Department of the Police? In an umpteen number of cases recorded beyond any manner of a doubt, it is the police who is shown to threaten victims and witnesses. Therefore, placing the very Division responsible to protect these special categories of persons within the overall structure of the police raises severe doubts as to the credibility of this mechanism. This was a flaw attaching to the initial draft of the Victims and Witnesses Protection law proposed in 2008 which is apparently still there.

Neither is there any reassurance that other flaws in the initial draft have not persisted. For example, clause 7(5) of the earlier version prohibited any receiver or gatherer of information during an investigation to provide, publish or disseminate inter alia, such information regarding the identity of the relevant victim of crime or a possible witness or informant.

As any competent investigator or criminal lawyer would agree, this is pivotal to a good witness protection programme. However, the initial draft restricted its application only if the life of a victim, witness or informant was placed in danger. This is an unnecessary restriction on the prohibition which should be couched in absolute terms. What about release of information that results in harm qualitatively different to that of placing a life in danger? Would one action be sanctioned but the other exempt from the reach of the prohibition?

The farce continues to our detriment

If this government is serious about its pronounced aim to protect victims and witnesses, it needs to re-establish an independent National Police Commission similar to that which prevailed under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. The ineffectual body that masquerades under that name presently should be done away with. Secondly it needs to delink the Department of the Police from political control and show prosecutorial and political will to punish offenders in all cases not just in one or two pushed by foreign governments. In the alternative, the farce can only continue.

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Latest comments

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    Kishali,

    Well, CHOGM for you is a useless extravagance, but to us it is useful and not so extravagant after all.

    What truly is extravagant is what you expect from Sri Lankan politicians, often shaped by what you experience living overseas.

    Sri Lankan people in general cannot be compared to the overall populace of most such countries. We are different. Our history is different. Our value systems are different. Westminster type of governance is not suited to us. You should by now acknowledge democracy has been a failure ever since it was foisted upon us by the retreating Brits. We have to forge a system best suited to us.

    And surely Kishali, you should know, that most of the great democracies have just as much corruption and violence as we have over here in Sri Lanka. The only difference is we don’t own the world media empires to help camouflage it. Take the US for example, the greatest democracy in the world, with checks and balances at every level. However they have killed, maimed and tortured more people in the world than all other countries put together. And what is worse is that they continue to do so to this day.

    [Edited out]

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      BBS SALES MAN;
      [Another Supporter of Shit eating pigs].

      [I think PAtti riota, Jin soththy and Dalu banda are from same propaganda house.
      You idiot say;
      “We are different.
      Our history is different.
      Our value systems are different.
      Westminster type of governance is not suited to us.
      You should by now acknowledge democracy has been a failure ever since it was foisted upon us by the retreating Brits”.

      Then, What the HECK your Moron Jarapassa wants to host westminister type this useless extravagances Colonial’s Carnival CHOGM in this Brits retreated Island.

      Like your Shit eating pig Bosses / Handlers,

      You, the paid henchmen also do not know, What you morons are talking/ writing.

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        Julampitiya Amaraya,

        There is no need for insults my friend. Hate and anger will not deliver peace.

        If you desire a better outcome for Sri Lanka, as I do, let us try to find a way out of the present impasse. Our society is profanely polarised into different camps based on heritage, culture and religion. This is why I often say, history be damned.

        If you want to know why we need CHOGM; well we need it to give us legitimacy. I am being quite frank about this. There is a Diaspora who still wants to see our country divided. They are still hurting from the humiliation of defeat. What they keep saying rightly or wrongly about how the war to end LTTE was conducted, hurts our image dearly. They have painted a very unfavourable picture about Sri Lankan politics. CHOGM will give us the legitimacy we need to bring about a lasting peace.

      • 0
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        Couldn’t have said it better !

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          not to BBS Rep, it was for Julampitiye Amare,this comments section does not post properly ! it jumps….

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      ” Sri Lankan people in general cannot be compared to the overall populace of most such countries. We are different. Our history is different. Our value systems are different.”

      Any country in the world can claim to be different because every country has some thing that sets it apart from others. Claiming “difference” is no excuse, since all these distinct countries in world are either democratic or there are activists fighting for demcorasy.

      Your excuse for dictatorship is akin to Islamists’ excuse that democrasy does not dovetail with Islamic society; it is just a cop-out to legitimize dictatorship, be it theocratic, cultural or ethnic.

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        I go on what has occurred in our past and what is occuring now. How many more scenarios of horror do we need to go through before Sri Lankans should call it a day with democracy. Democracy has failed and it is time to give up on that pipe dream. The Sri Lankan psyche is not suited to democracy. Let us at least wait and see how MR’s system will deliver in the long term.

        There are of course some unpleasant things occurring and this is more due to the foolhardiness of the individual who tries to upset the apple cart. MR has to counter such threats to the peace that has only just begun to settle in Sri Lanka. MR must be given some space. He is the people’s choice and has a mandate to do things his way.

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        PERFECT Reply !

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          what’s happening to comments ? jumping to the wrong post ! moderator take note
          I said Perfect Reply to Palm Squirrel not BBS rep. !

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      BBS rep:

      Quoting from yours:

      “We are different. Our history is different. Our value systems are different. Westminster type of governance is not suited to us. You should by now acknowledge democracy has been a failure ever since it was foisted upon us by the retreating Brits. We have to forge a system best suited to us”

      Who are these ” we” ? Yes if they are the stupid folks that repeatedly vote for the abusive candidates under UPFA – then the sane would never feel that they are capable of building any good system best suited to us.

      MR and thugs have proved to the world – that they are unique by their killing and crime friendly tactics. Any previous leaders could also react against own folks – and finally eliminate the terrorists, but all of them had one thing in common – that is they focused on HUMAN RIGHTs, but MR and his siblings are not even near to respct to HR. This any child has grasphed but unfortunately, the ilk that you work for seem to be like hallozinated. These blind folks are becoming more – so long state media feed them only with palatable news. Majority of those people – who re the vote base for MR and thugs – are powerless and vulnerable to anything. They dont care the imapact of anything. All these are clear to anyone – who would closely study the results of eleciton all these years under MERVIN ^S control.

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        Sun,

        You are welcome to your opinion.

        Despite you painting such a appalling picture about the situation in Sri Lanka, life is going on so much more nicely now. You can travel to any part of the country without let or hinder. You can start a business anywhere in the Island. Bombs are not going off inside buses.

        What you fail to understand is that ‘Human Rights’ must re-evolve in Sri Lanka. For forty years we have known only the law of the jungle, kill, torture, the gun and the suicide bomber. We all lived in a climate of fear, reprisals, suspicion and utter cruelty. We Sri Lankans are a clearly traumatised lot. Such trauma takes time to mend. Many need time to understand that the ground rules are changing. And it is slowly but surely dawning upon them. Do you hear of Mervin’s controversial antics these days? If you expect changes to occur by the drop of a hat, after 40 years of high trauma, then you are not being realistic.

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      My apologies. Thank you for editing the last part of my comment. I had misgivings after posting that comment. I thought I was doing her a favour. But I now realise I was not. If I did cause hurt to Kishali, I ask for her pardon with the bottom of my heart. I wish her well.

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    Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena –

    The girl who silenced the world for 5 min! Must watch.

    She is asking why all these conferences?
    She says, you are what you do, and not what you say.

    Sri Lanka needs a Mallala, a Sri Lankan “Mallika” to go after the Rajapaksa -Taliban.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8ODrjr09I0

    Uploaded on Jun 3, 2008
    The girl who silenced the world for 5 min–“It’s high time that we wake up”

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    The moving of the case to the Colombo High Court and appointment of a special prosecutor is an admission of guilt, that the normal system does not work. Two years down the line, no progress, no justice, no witnesses? What happens ordinary folk? What happened to Nimalruban?

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    The Khuram Sheikh killing and the Trincomalee student murders. What will happen after CHOGM? It will be interesting to wait and see.

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    As Jarapassas Go scot free ,
    There is no guarantee of any crimes committed and/ or sponsored by Governing goons to be punished?.

    do any body expect any fair and just from shit eating Pigs?.

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    WHAT use or relevance the Commonwealth of nations as an organization have in the world today?
    Kishali, I have a prior question about the use of the COmmonwelath of Nations. Sri Lanka civil society is rather backward when it comes to its veneration of all things international!
    Today we have many country grouping such as – BRICS, G-12, ASEAN, Non-Aligned Movement, OSCE – all with some geopolitical or economic development purpose.
    But the Commonwealth is an organization that is a BRITISH COLONIAL relic- created simply to celebrate the BRITISH EMPIRE that folded some time ago and has no earthly relevance in today”s world – except some empty UN sounding rhetoric about “Democracy, Human Rights and Law and order” which the Rajapakse regime observes in the breach.. So why is this white COLONIAL elephant organizsation – like the white elephant Hambantota projects allowed to waste so much of our money? Lanka is already highly indebted due to Rajapassa’s love for WHITE ELEPHANTS – be it projects in Hambantota or the CHOGM..

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    Madam, although you are right that Rajapassa should be careful what he wants.. we cannot stand back and chuckle and just watch the Commonwealth Circus which is a gigantic Photo Op for the Rajapassa regime to show off to its Sinhalaya Modaya voters.. and boost its MILITARY DICTATORSHIP

    We need to have a massive protest with Joint opposition outside CHOGM venue to tell the world the truth about the Rajapassa military dictatorship and DEEP STATE with its Facade of Democracy..

    Also, the Commonwealth is a Colonial organization that should be shut down, and JHU and BBS and other nationalist groups should aslo joint the CHOGM protests in Colombo.. for the Lanka Spring!

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      Careful Sidney,
      The protests that you propose will end in a no-contest. Even as we write, crack groups of STF are in training in order to ensure that nothing spoils the tamasha-of-tamasha’s. No bullets, just a few cracked skulls should do the trick.
      As for the Organisation, MR has been waiting for the opportunity to be Chairman of a world body and he is not going to give up now. We shall have the unedifying sight of our own MR pontificating to Commonwealth and World leaders on the ills of the universe and his proposed solutions. This should go down a treat with his devoted followers in our miracle of Asia.
      We shall continue rue the missed opportunities for opting out of this colonial madhouse.
      More ink in your pen, Kishali.

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    This is simple take how Sri Lankan magistrates are ignoring all scientific reports and giving full protection for illegal garages operate in high residential areas by violating all rules and regulations. We have found around 100 such cases alone in Western province and now we are on the process of identifying them and giving international and local publicity about these corruptive judges. These garages will increase cancer and many other illnesses due to sound, spray paintings and welding and operating 24 hours and 365 days. You cannot operate spray paintings and welding garage in your living house with less than 40 perches and less than 20 feet wide road and without self-protection zone. If you have PHI report, CEA report, Police report and UC report magistrate cannot do nothing and order to close garage and order to pay compensation for the residents around and jail him/her. But many magistrates for money and sex take garage owners’ side. Even some TO in UCs also give protection for these illegal garages. Even UDA enforcement section gives full protection for all these illegal garages because monthly money they get through TOs in urban councils. Some regional politicians also protect these illegal garages. These garage owners, TOs and UDA corruptive officers and Magistrates must be find out. These garages dismantle many robbed vehicles under full support of Police stations and places of centre of crimes, drug and illicit liquor selling. Citizens come forward and helps us to minimize cancer and other diseases creates by these illegal garages operate by unlawful citizens in unsuitable resident areas. Never give letters to support to these garages and inform media about any judge who gives wrong decisions to protect these illegal garages for money and sex without ignoring all scientific reports and investigation. Take example as a Homagama magistrate who visited a house to take a bribery. Many more judges soon we will expose. Technical officers in UCs who helps these illegal garages also we will inform soon. Even UDA enforcement section and Police officers who protect and use these illegal garages soon in press with evidence. Bar association, CJ and Judiciary service Commission book these judges who takes garage owner’s side. Now Police Dept has new environmental section but very inactive because all these garages are main monthly income sources for police stations. IGP needs your kind attention.

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    Dodo: You should ask the questions posed to Kishali to Rajapakses and the other Ministers. When they tear to pieces the Brits, western democracy, imperialism why CHOGM is so important to this regime is mind-boggling. The keeness to have such an irrelevant summit spending huge amounts of public funds should be directed to this regime and not Kishali who never campaigned for such an event. There are others like artists, TV channel owners and many others who come on TV and praise the holding of this summit in Sri Lanka should give intelligent answers to you queries.

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    SEE HOW CORRUPTION WORKS IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES;

    “New York is Drowning in Bribes and Corruption
    by PAM MARTENS
    The insidious greed and public looting that Wall Street has nurtured to an art form in New York City is metastasizing like a virulent tumor strain throughout the state, fraying the social fabric and crushing people caught in its grip like bugs.

    On Tuesday evening, September 17, 2013, Seema Kalia was scheduled to give testimony before the first public hearing of the New York State Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. But according to Michelle Duffy, a spokesperson for the Commission, when Kalia’s name was called that evening, there was no response.

    Kalia could not respond because she was abruptly arrested in the foyer of a courtroom on the very morning she was set to give testimony, ostensibly for contacting her ex husband, a portfolio manager on Wall Street, seeking back support payments. Kalia is being charged with violating a court order barring her from contact with her husband because she is alleged to have thrown one of his own men’s shoes at him in 2012 – a device characterized by the District Attorney’s office as a “weapon.” Typically, a misdemeanor charge of this nature would not result in jail time.

    In Kalia’s case, however, she has been jailed at Rikers Island since September 17 and when she went before a Judge on October 4, she was sent back to jail for another 33 days after she declined to plead guilty to attempting to do bodily harm with a “weapon.” Her bond was doubled from $7,500 to $15,000. The earliest she might be released is November 7, her next court date.

    Kalia alleges that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has stalled her case for almost a year by getting the court to agree to repeated adjournments. Two separate phone requests to the DA’s office yielded no response to clarify the allegation. (A faxed letter of inquiry to Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan DA, and Jocelyn Samuels at the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department have also failed to elicit a response.)

    The Moreland Commission testimony that did occur on September 17 at Pace University, in a room ridiculously too small to handle the mushrooming numbers of victims of the crime wave that New York is experiencing, mirrored the kinds of charges that Kalia has been making since 2011. (The overflow of people wanting to testify, who were left outside on the sidewalk, staged protests.)

    Preet Bharara, representing the U.S. Department of Justice as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the district that has failed to rein in the serial crimes by Wall Street’s biggest firms, said that “Public corruption, based on all the evidence, appears rampant. And the ranks of those convicted in office have swelled to absolutely unacceptable levels.” Bharara said that his office has had to prosecute “State Senators as well as State Assemblymen; elected officials as well as party leaders; city council members as well as town mayors; Democrats as well as Republicans.” It was likely little comfort to the audience that it’s a bipartisan crime wave.

    The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta Lynch, testified that there is a “pervasive problem of corruption by elected and appointed officials” in New York, citing former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada who was convicted of stealing funds from Soundview Health Clinic, a federally funded clinic he operated in the Bronx. Lynch also called out former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who was sent to prison for her role in stealing funds from Parents Information Network, a non-profit organization she established to assist parents of New York City public schoolchildren.

    Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union, testified that “there is a crime wave of corruption” and it has been increasing over the past 12 years.

    When it came time for the general public to testify about public corruption, it wasn’t legislative leaders the witnesses railed against, it was corrupt judges. Multiple witnesses testified to having real estate property stolen through corrupt court proceedings. One witness, Dale Javino, said he was cheated out of his life savings in bankruptcy court and what happened to him “is like what happens in Nazi Germany…”

    Leon Koziol testified that the retribution he sustained after reporting unethical judges to authorities “reads like a John Grisham novel…” Echoing the testimony of others, Koziol said a series of complaints over the years to the Committee on Judicial Conduct failed to reach the investigative threshold, “leading the common citizen to logically conclude that such commissions are a mere window dressing, which does more to facilitate misconduct than it does to rectify it.” Koziol concluded by saying it is one thing to ignore public corruption but quite another to target and punish the whistleblower.

    Ellen Oxman said “I believe the topic that you all wanted to hear was the unethical conduct by elected public officials – they would be the judges of the courts of this state.” Oxman went on to say that “If you can have litigation in this state, in this country, with a judge who accepts forged documents, by lawyers who are not admitted into the case, and you don’t even know the litigation has come to pass, then we don’t have a democracy.”

    Much of the focus was on judges said to have been corrupted by the more powerful party in divorce or custody matters. Nora Renzulli, reading from a previous complaint letter she had written, explained to the Commission that “Just as in the Catholic Church hierarchy’s longstanding tolerance for sexual abuse of children by priests, there is a broader scandal brewing in New York Court System’s tolerance for legally sanctioned judicial misconduct when judges reward an aggressive and litigious parent with custody and child support, who then excludes the other parent from relationship with the children.” This was a refrain that would be heard over and over again that night.

    Janice Schacter, a retired attorney, said that the Thomas Street location of the New York State Supreme Court “is pay to play; orders are not enforced, laws are not applied, domestic violence is treated with derision and conflicts of interest are ignored. Deference and preferential treatment are given to wealthy spouses and lawyers of prestigious firms.” Schacter also testified that the judge involved in her case attempted to censor her contact with the press by threatening to send her to jail at Rikers Island for 20 days. She said she was still having nightmares about it. “

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