By Colombo Telegraph –
The government has withdrawn its sponsorship for the annual programme of the Judicial Service Association. On that basis this prevents the UNDP funds for being utilised for this meeting. However, it is reported that the judges will proceed with the meeting for one day with their own personal contributions.
“Judicial Service Association (JSA), the association of the judges of the original court, had organised the Annual Judges Conference, sponsored by the UNDP – under the Equal Access to Justice Programme, which is scheduled for 21 and 22nd of December 2012. This programme comes under the Ministry of Languages and Social Intrigration Vasudeva Nanayakkara. The Secretary to the Ministry Malkanthi Wickramasinghe had informed the JSA on 18th December that the Minister does not wish to sponsor this conference, notwithstanding the MOU singed and an advance being paid for the venue of the Conference. Thus the sponsorship of UNDP has been withdrawn officially due to arbitrary and politically motivated decision of the Ministry.” says the Lawyers Collective .
Meanwhile issuing a statement the Asian Human Rights Commission says; “Obviously, the government has tried to stop this annual gathering where the judges normally spend two days and also have the opportunity to interact with each other and to socialize. The obvious fear would be that the judges will naturally talk about the threat faced by the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. Recently many events of concern have happened such as the attack by a minister with others on the Magistrate’s Court and the High Court of Mannar. The magistrate complained also that he was threatened by the Industries Minister Risath Bathiudeen. A contempt of court issue as well as criminal is pending on the matter. Then there was the attempted kidnapping and assault on the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission. Above all there is the attempt to get rid of the Chief Justice after the Supreme Court had given a ruling adverse to the government.”