16 April, 2024


Shani’s Release & State Accountability

By Firdous MHM

Firdous MHM

In recent times, the release of Shani Abeysekera, the former intelligence chief, has sparked jubilation across social media platforms. The legal proceedings surrounding his case have evolved into a captivating and dramatic spectacle.

It is a widely recognized fact that, under the current constitution of Sri Lanka, incidents akin to the arbitrary arrest and detention of intelligence chief Shani by the executive branch are not isolated events. Sri Lanka has witnessed a longstanding tradition of arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions dating from the post-colonial era to the present day. This practice has ensnared individuals from all walks of life, including former prime ministers, presidential candidates, Supreme Court judges, governors, parliament members, senior military and intelligence officers, prominent lawyers, esteemed doctors, renowned journalists, religious leaders, foreign nationals, and countless ordinary citizens. There is no discernible category of citizens that has been exempt from such arbitrary actions by the government. These detentions persist until the government’s concealed or overt illicit objectives are achieved, after which these individuals are released and acquitted.

Paradoxically, despite decades of this custom, there appears to be no legal initiative challenging this norm, and there is an evident absence of judicial or academic activism aimed at enlightening the public regarding the constitutional nature of the government. The Sri Lankan constitution shields the government from being held accountable for its actions or inaction. This impunity is consistently reinforced by the judiciary. Regrettably, according to the Sri Lankan constitution, it is not the judiciary’s role to demand responsibility and accountability for the government’s actions and inactions.

Instead of demanding redress from the government for these arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions and holding the government accountable for these transgressions, attention often shifts to praising the legal representatives handling such cases and commending the judiciary for releasing those who were unjustly detained. However, the regrettable truth remains that for several decades, up to the present day, neither the judicial institutions, legal academia, nor journalists seem inclined to question the government’s evasion of responsibility and accountability for its actions and inactions. 

Sometimes, one might ponder whether this reluctance within the legal community to challenge the actions of the executive branch of government is due to a deep-seated constitutional subservience of the judicial branch to the executive branch. Alternatively, one might also question whether judicial officers and legal scholars lack the capacity to comprehend how all three branches of government, as established by the constitution, can function without a clear system of responsibility and accountability. It could even be a combination of these judicial and academic limitations.

*Firdous MHM is an academic specializing in constitution, law, and economy. He can be reached via mhmfirdous@hotmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 13

    “However, the regrettable truth remains that for several decades, up to the present day, neither the judicial institutions, legal academia, nor journalists seem inclined to question the government’s evasion of responsibility and accountability for its actions and inactions.”

    This is the chracteristic of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism.

  • 10

    I rejoice over Shani’s release

    But someone must be made to pay him compensation for his loss of freedom for so long without a credible case
    And someone must be punished for taking away his freedom without a credible case.

    After the Police abused their powers like this, do we need our police?

    • 0

      Sorry. In copying my comment I accidentally pressed thumbs-up without intending to.

  • 7

    Yes, the Judiciary is blind to anyone unjustly punished on the initiative of the State, as by incarceration without cause. We have paid the price for decades. That is why our Judiciary has become tattered.

    • 1

      ‘… our Judiciary has become tattered’. ?
      – tattered, – old, torn, worn out, … .
      How can Judiciary get worn out?
      Our Judiciary is scattered!

  • 8

    Shani Abeysekera should NEVER been subjected to the harassments he had to go through as he was doing his job so conscientiously. As he knows the TRUTHS about various crimes he was deliberately made to suffer. In SL, the whistleblowers becomes the guilty people and the criminals are scot free!
    What has happened to the Swiss embassy employee???

  • 7

    Getting rid of or at least stifling truth or dissent, have been how the utterly corrupt and murderous regimes have governed, using the primordial instincts of a largely tribal populace as captive slaves. One merely needs to observe how ordinary people arrested by the police are treated. They are tortured, abused, raped, and in many ways “broken” from the ordeal. The idea is usually revenge, or discouragement from challenging the illegitimate power exercised by these barbarians. Only a popular revolution will fundamentally change these practices or policies.

  • 4

    It isn’t System Change that we need. We need Culture Change. It is our culture that makes us pervert all laws. What is the use of a perfect constitution if those in power can find ways to bypass it? Lawyers and judges don’t implement justice, they simply connive with the powerful to get the result they want. So, there is always legal cover for their depredations.

  • 2

    All the SENSIBLE/REASONABLE SL citizens knows that WW need changes in the system/culture. We aren’t united and STRONG willed to bring the CHANGE all wants.
    The corrupt rulers are making USE OF Buddhist ‘monks’ + Sinhala buddhists fundamentalist politicians to promote ethnic and religious harmony in the country
    .—->This is the only way the crooked rulers can continue to throttle the innocent civilians. ISIS+ BBS+ Shiv sena are all the creations of the MASTER MIND.

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