1 October, 2020

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Sri Lanka’s Parliament Should Reject Motion To Impeach Chief Justice – ICJ

By International Commission of Jurists –

Members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament should reject the impeachment motion to remove Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, that will be put before Parliament on 10-11 January 2013, the ICJ said today.

Shirani Bandaranayake

The ICJ call comes after a three-member panel of the Supreme Court, in a decision issued on 1 January 2013, ruled that the impeachment procedure in Parliament was not constitutionally valid, finding that such procedures could only be established ‘by law’ enacted by Parliament. The Standing Orders governing the current impeachment investigative process are not considered ‘law’ under the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

“The assault on the independence of the Sri Lankan judiciary in recent months has brought Sri Lanka to the brink of a constitutional crisis,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director.  “If the impeachment motion is passed in Parliament in defiance of decisions of the country’s judiciary, it will signal a massive breakdown in the rule of law and checks and balances.”

The ICJ stresses that in a democratic society operating under the rule of law, the principle of judicial review is paramount and judges have the ultimate authority to determine what the law provides.

Following the Supreme Court decision, the Court of Appeal quashed the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee on 7 January 2013, claiming the PSC lacked authority to make such a finding.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, President Mahinda Rajapakse announced his intention to create a four-member panel on 7 January 2013 to review the Parliamentary Select Committee Report and comment on its constitutional validity. The identities of the panel members have not been revealed.

“Creating another ad hoc committee on an arbitrary basis to pronounce on the validity of the impeachment process in Parliament – a process already held to be improper by the apex Court – aggravates the insult to the judiciary and deepens the constitutional crisis,” Zarifi said. “Judges are not above the law, and should be subject to impeachment if they have engaged in serious misdeeds, but the faulty process used by the Parliamentary committee violated basic notions of due process and truth-seeking.”

Last month, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka unanimously passed a resolution calling on the President to reconsider the impeachment, warning that if principles of rule of law were disregarded in the removal process, the Bar would not formally welcome the new Chief Justice.

“This current crisis threatens to leave Sri Lanka with little or no means to hold State officials accountable for serious human rights violations,” Zarifi added. “This government has shown itself committed to imposing a climate of impunity in Sri Lanka. The Parliament should stop the country’s sad slide away from the rule of law.”

The ICJ released a 150-page report in early November 2012 focusing on impunity in Sri Lanka and highlighting the recent attacks on the judiciary as a key factor that has led to the erosion of State accountability mechanisms.

The impeachment process against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has been widely criticized for ignoring international standards and practice.

The ICJ in an earlier statement called on the Government of Sri Lanka to adhere to international standards and practice in the impeachment hearings.

The ICJ reiterates its call on the Government of Sri Lanka to take active measures to promote the independence of the judiciary and rule of law by adhering to international standards and practice in impeachment hearings.

CONTACT:

Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Bangkok, t:+66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi@icj.org

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

BACKGROUND:

The impeachment motion was initiated just days after the Chief Justice ruled against the Government on a controversial bill – the Divi Neguma Bill, under which the Minister of Economic Development (who is also the President’s brother, Basil Rajapakse) would have had control over a fund of 80 billion Sri Lankan rupees (611 million USD) with minimal accountability.

Attacks on the judiciary have been escalating since July 2012. A Government Minister Rishad Bathiudeen threatened a Magistrate in Mannar and then allegedly orchestrated a mob to pelt stones at the Mannar courthouse. In early October 2012, the ICJ condemned the physical assault on the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, Manjula Tillekaratne.

On 6 November 2012, a motion to initiate impeachment proceedings was brought against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.  The motion contained fourteen charges relating to the non-disclosure of financial assets and improper conduct of a Chief Justice.  On 8 November 2012, the Chief Justice’s lawyers responded to four of the fourteen charges, claiming that all operative bank accounts had been disclosed and only those accounts which were closed or held no funds were not declared.

On 6 December 2012, the Chief Justice and her team of lawyers walked out of the impeachment hearing in protest over the denial of a fair hearing.

On 8 December 2012, a majority of the Parliamentary Select Committee comprising government representatives found the Chief Justice guilty of four charges out of the fourteen allegations. The Committee’s released its findings despite the Supreme Court’s request in late November 2012 that hearings be delayed until it could determine the constitutionality of the proceeding.

http://www.icj.org

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    This regime does not listen to reason. Please do not expend your time and energy on staging street demonstrations. Give the cheats, rogues, murderers, rapists, pseudo-patriots the shock treatment!

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    When the vote on the 18th Amendment was taken up, that traitor led his docile herd out of the chamber. Now he has decided to participate in the debate on the illegal impeachment to give respectability to the regime’s despicable move. People should teach this traitor a good lesson first.

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    In the eventuality that the govt goes ahead with this unlawful process the case should be referred to the International Court of Justice. That would help the govt to come to its senses

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

    The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).

    The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

    The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

  • 0
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    Wonder whether dudes who seem to be based in Baaangkok,have done anything to get the banished, people’s choice PM there ?.

    • 0
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      It seems WOGs, NGOs and their pay masters are very very concerned of loosing their protégé. I have no doubt they must have invested and relied on her heavily to oust MR. Pity on them; will anyone commit hara kiri.
      Leela

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        Leela you should be born ABNORMAL to see things in that way.

        Every right thinking in and out of country would feel with the opposition in terms of the illegal impeachment.

        Why is that as so called educated person who also once lived on the west – are YOU always trying to defend the criminals ? It was known that the information provided to the law makers were in the vacation and they did not have even time to study them. Just abusing 2/3 of mandate they can even get passed to APPROVE official killing in the current cabinet. If you are honest with you, you would ever agree with the current situation.

        Have you also eaten the Kribath kewum kessel being together with those goons blocked the gates of the CJ after impeachment news was broadcasted/telecasted in this afternoon.

  • 0
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    To: The International Commission of Jurists,

    We appreciate your help rendered to maintain Justice, Liberty and Freedom of the Citizens of Sri Lanka, CJ and the judiciary.

    We appreciate your effort in writing to President for him to abide by the Appeals Court Judgment.

    As you know ex.CJ Sarath N.Silva knows a great deal of president and his Behaviour…..and the following discussion he had with Dilka at Derana 360 will tell you what the true personality of Preisdent.

    http://www.derana.lk/index.php?route=programs/programs/programdetails&pid=85&vid=5582&page=2

    Please see the above web and listen to the discussion. Also you could watch the rest of the discussions when you click on other windows.

    You will note how ex.CJ.Sarath Silva evaluate President from the video. They are….
    ————————————————————————-

    1)President will never listen to anybody’s advise and will do whatever he wants to do……either good for the country or not..

    2)Ex.CJ Sarath N Silva say as result of President going ahead with the Hedging deal eventhough he was warned by many about the repucassions, president still went ahead, and as a result CPC now have to pay over US $400 million to the banks.

    3)Sarath N.Silva also said he let out President been impeached from Tsunami fraud case as he tied it up with aid giving direct to Prabhakaran……which was not the truth, but a made up case.

    4)Sarath Silva also say President is a Shrude and a cunning person.
    Also in subsequent video he say President always looking for high status……meaning having some type of inferior complex…..and always looking for attention from others….like those cutouts around Sri Lanka etc…

    5)Also by sending Gen.Sarath Fonseka to Jail…..and bribing opposition MP’s to his side Sarath Silva say how President use who ever he wants at any cost to get his work done and once it’s done how he dumps a person(like sending gen. Fonseka to Prison) which is part of President’s personality…..and game plan.
    Also Sarath Silva say he played by the limits with President, as if he gone to advise president, he could have lost his job.

    There are many other issues Sarath Silve talk about President which will help you and the Friday Forum to learn about President’s behaviour.

    Therefrore Mr.Danapala and Friday Forum, I will assure you that President will not pay any attention to your letter, and therefore you have to come up with an alternative plan as to what action you will take if President does not respond to your letter and goes ahead with kicking CJ out.

    I lay out some suggestions that you may consider implementing and may consider
    ————————————————————————————————————————

    1)Can ICJ write to CW to send a group of Judges from Commonwealth countries to hear CJ trial.(I know it’s expensive, but still worth the trouble to get justice to CJ) Also if you could find funders for the expenses of CW Judges will be helpful.

    2)With personal influence ICJ has with UN member countries….if you can influence UN to pressure President to stop kicking CJ out until commonwealth Judges hear the case.

    3)If still President doesn’t listen and use violance methods to kick CJ out and plan to occupy Supreme Court Building….can ICJ call for UN, CW or International intervention to stop President occupying SC building.

    4)Can ICJ call for international travel, trade and Loans ban for President and the Govt.Parliament members until he abide by international Law to keep CJ in her position.

    5)If CJ is kicked out and since there is no law in the country….can ICJ stop Sri Lanka from participating UN, CW , Non Align and Asian Conferences and giving Business concessions, Tourism and GSP status to Sri Lanka as a punishment.

    6)If GOSL instigate violance against citizen, could ICJ request international forces to intervene Sri Lanka to rescue Citizens before making them refugees and from fleeing country.

    7) Can ICJ educate and encourage Sri Lankan Expatriat Community to take an active roll to influence those foreign Governments and to protest against Sri Lankan government to pressure MR to keep CJ.

    8)Special protection to CJ, Judiciary and the SC Judges to stay and work in their positions and not allow Govt. to interfere with their work.

    9)Also ICJ meeting and communicate with local Diplomatic Community and to educate them on country’s situation.

    10) Educate UN,CW and international Community with organising seminars and talk at UN, EU and Asian Forums to intervane on behalf of CJ and Judiciary.

    Hope ICJ will consider these suggestions.

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      Dear Jayantha

      You know that more than 2/3 of the people of this country totally disagree with you. So that you are trying to provocate other external or violent means to topple this government.

      CJ is going to be impeached for her bad conducts according to the existing law. As CJ is the Head of the judiciary the involvement of the Lawyers and Judges cannot be given in any part in this procedure as it would be baised towards that particular profession. It is being done in correct way as any democratic country in the world does. So please do not try to mislead the world who has the basic right know the truth about removing a senior judge.

      Do not expect the people’s elected government to betray the people’s sovereignty to other institutions no mater from where they come from or whoever they may be Either UN or CW they are outsiders who can be individually purchased by billions of Tamil diaspora money that works against the people of this country.

      Please try to defeat the governemt democratically in comming elections.

      • 0
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        Ravi,
        Let him have his daydream and enjoy himself.

        I do not think separatists and their backers dare try riots in Colombo. Although lot of Eelamist commentators here and in various other web sites who write under Sinhala names madly argue mass to start street riots, locals will not be interested. Those who like it like NGO sharks, black coats and WOGs are cowards and schemers; they don’t like to get hurt by passers-by.
        Leela

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    By any chance these people talk of absence of a
    Legislature and a proper judiciary in Sufis Arabia? – cases are heard by kings appointees and he can re
    I’ve them as he wishes and international citizens are executed without proper proof. ( this involves a life nit a position ) – no democracy at all . Can someone show me if they have taken any action on this? ( i
    ICJ OR UN have they imposed any embargos?

    • 0
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      Thanks Ralph

      This shows the double standard of the ICJ, AHRC (Asian Human Right Commision) like organizations who work with hidden political ajendas on funds gained from undiscloused sources.

      Saudi regime which doesn’t have any legislator or a Judiciery baberically executed an under ageed foreign girl denying her access to any lawfull hearing. Why ICJ or AHRC did’nt even made request from that regime which is strongly backed by the west.

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