This Nation continues to suffer in the hands of criminal elements occupying public office in the Legislature and the Executive who abuse public office for their private benefit, engaging in corruption and robbing the Nation with total impunity.
The attention of all the concerned citizens is drawn to the “Forward made by UN Secretary General Kofi A Annan” to the UN Convention against Corruption [58/4 of 31st of October 2003], ratified by the Republic of Sri Lanka on 31st of March 2004, which is very pertinent to the situation faced by the people of Sri Lanka.
“… Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violation of human righs, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human society to flourish. This evil phenomenon found in developing world, its affects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government’s ability to provide basis services, feeding inequality and injustice and discourage foreign aid and investment. Corruption is the key element in economic under performance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development …’
Dear citizens! It is the duty of all of us to comprehend that the Motherland can never be put right without eradicating corruption, a noble act and also a national requirement that call for a fearless and upright judiciary committed to protect vindicate and enforce judicial power of the people (Article 105 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka).
And the Lord Justice Dennings, considered as greatest English Judge of modern times remonstrated that ‘… Judges cannot afford to be timorous souls. They cannot remain impotent, incapable and sterile in the face of injustice …’
However, to achieve the objective of eradicating corruption there is a paramount duty vested in the members of the legal profession as well to assist the judiciary and the Constitution mandates all citizens including lawyers to preserve and protect the public property and to combat abuse of public property (Article 28 of the Constitution). This is the only way forward to fight corruption and win the confidence of the people.
Elaborating the role of the judiciary the Latimer House principles promulgated by the Commonwealth of Nations requires that the Judges shall be accountable to the Constitution and to the law, which they must apply honestly, independently and with honestly. The principles of judicial accountability and INDEPENDENCE underpin the public confidence in the judicial system and the importance of the judiciary as one of the three pillars upon which a responsible government relies.
On the other hand to protect the lawyers who work conscientiously in their chosen occupation there are international instruments requiring all the governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference (United Nations Basic Principles on the role of lawyer Rule 16). And they also dictate that no contempt proceedings shall be used to restrict legitimate criticism of the performance of the judicial functions – Commonwealth Latimer House principles
Unfortunately, there is not such culture developed in this island Nation to achieve the desired objectives of the supreme people whose voice is unheard, compelling them to express their concerns about the state of the judiciary and the legal profession that lacks accountability mechanism at all to the international community.
I should put on record that it is not just me but the duty of the whole legal community to respects their social obligations, sacrificing their private interests at least to some degree, and to do their utmost best to make this country a better place for future generations.