24 September, 2020

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The Peril Of Undermining Rule Of Law 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The seizing of taped conversations that former Minister Ranjan Ramanayake had with an assortment of persons on a variety of subjects, including personal foibles, was one of the outcomes of a police raid on his home. An unexpected outcome has been the almost immediate release of a large number of these recordings into the public realm after the police raid. This has provided the general public with an unexpected diversion into the lives, conversations and peccadillos of those in the film industry of which the former minister is a leading member. More controversially there is more serious stuff that has come to light associated with his being a member of the former government, which brought him in contact with politicians, judges and police, some of whom should not have been speaking to him at all on the matters they did.

The question is how these taped conversations reached the social media no sooner than the police took them into custody. According to the media, there are over 120,000 such recordings taken over a number of years, which seem to have come out the day after the police seized them.  If they leaked through the police it would be a grave security breach and breach of trust that parallels that of the former minister. His actions have breached the trust of those with whom he spoke to while recording their conversations for some perverse or other motive of his own.  On the other hand, if there is a police hand in the leak of the tapes, it would be breach that undermines the credibility of the legal process and erodes confidence in state institutions.

The government has acted decisively in the matter and has immediately interdicted the former head of the CID, Shani Abeysekera, and who prior to his downfall was regarded as one of the country’s most top notch police investigators. His interdiction is not because he leaked the tape but because he was one of those caught on tape. There is now doubt being cast on his past work investigating crimes. These included heinous crimes that took place and in which politicians were involved. This is fuelling demands from politicians that those who were even sentenced to death in the past should be let off the hook on the grounds that the legal process was so hopelessly biased and the course of justice so perverted that their guilt beyond reasonable doubt no longer can be assured.

Higher Stake 

So far the tapes that have been released regarding former Minister Ramanayake do not indicate that he was asking the judges and police personnel he was engaging in conversation to do illegal things, to make the innocent into guilty parties or make the guilty parties innocent, or to fabricate evidence to put people into trouble. He seems to have seen himself as a crusader for justice, like in the films he acted, trying to find out what was happening in investigations, and exhorting those to whom he was speaking to do their jobs without stepping back. This was against the code of ethics, where those entrusted by the state to investigate wrongdoing should be left to do their work independently without being influenced in any way. The larger fault lies with those in the judiciary and police who spoke to him about things they should have kept to themselves instead of giving him information or seeking his support.

There is the old adage that justice must not only be done it must also be seen to be done. The evidence that the former minister was engaging behind the scenes with those who have sworn to enforce the law independently and impartially will lead to a further erosion in confidence about the rule of law.  It is therefore appropriate that government leaders have referred the matter to the Judicial Services Commission headed by the Chief Justice to take action. The stories about politicians calling judges is not new.  What is new is that the engagement has been captured on tape.  This gives an opportunity to make a start at putting an end to this unacceptable practice. The need to restore confidence in the judicial and legal processes is of paramount importance. The stakes are much higher than the individual cases that are being brought to the fore and where it is being canvased that decisions already taken should be reversed. The reputation of the country and the protection of its leaders from the long reach of international law should also be considered.

The upholding of law and order is the single most important feature of any society as it gives people an assurance of what they can expect which gives stability to society. Investors want a stable legal environment which is predictable and consistent. However, the situation with regard to stability is murky as some persons are being pursued by the law such as seen recently when opposition parliamentarians are being arrested while charges are being dropped against others.  Some of these are actions that the majority of people may approve. But this too undermines the rule of law. This includes the fulfilling of election campaign promises by the release of soldiers convicted by the courts of war time crimes. Following the police raid on former minister Ramanayake’s house there is a sequence of release of tapes, which are being used to cast aspersions against the judiciary and police. This is leading to a loss of confidence in the rule of law.  Such a situation can undermine the prospects for development that the government has prioritised for the country.  

International Reach 

There is a further reason why undermining the credibility of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies is unwise and should not be encouraged. Apart from taking the country on a development path, another one of the government’s priorities is to extricate itself from the commitments made by the previous government to the international community with regard to dealing with the issues arising from the three decade long war. In particular the government would be looking to abrogate the commitment to set up special judicial mechanism to probe alleged war crimes and serious violations of human rights. But this would become difficult if government politicians themselves are publicly running down the judiciary and law enforcement agencies and accusing them of being corrupt and biased. International human rights law comes to bear on countries that are suffering from the breakdown of their domestic legal systems.

UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of 2015 which was co-sponsored by the former government referred to the commitment “to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of

Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators.”

The basic principle of international law in relation to domestic law is that it comes into operation if the domestic legal system is seen to have broken down and the people of that country, and internationally, have lost confidence in it. Hybrid courts of the sort that the UNHRC resolution can drive towards have been set up in countries where the domestic legal system had collapsed or was seen by the international community to have collapsed, such as Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. Unfortunately, the present movement in Sri Lanka can take the appearance of being in the direction of a breakdown. The fact that the Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundara and former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando are languishing in prison for over three months itself shows that the system of law and order is in crisis. Now the Ramanayake tapes are being used to campaign for a reversal of legal decisions taken in the past.  None of this will be helpful for Sri Lanka to extricate itself from its peril.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    9

    Many people like Ranjan Ramanayake whistle blows and shout a lot only to cover their misdoings!

    • 2
      2

      See,
      how they have been performing.
      :
      All is destroyed, but prostrated people stay mum. No matter even if THE daily needs would have been expensive to the people… they just stay mum why ?

  • 18
    2

    When former Chief Justice Sarath Silva came out requesting forgiveness from people for giving a wrong judgement on Mahina Rajapakse’s sunami fund robery case those Viyath Maga gang and SLPP MPs who are attacking Ranjan did nothing. Even the President, PM, Minister of Justice, Chief Justice, Attorney General and IGP at that time turned the other way. Why only now they are putting pressure on Ranjan? Political victimization?

  • 15
    1

    Jehan

    *** In Sri Lanka there is no Rule Of Law. So sadly there is nothing to undermine except Might Is Right.
    The Chicken has come home to roost. It is Mahinthas turn to visit Delhi to be given 5 year old stale ” LADDU” . Even Chinese Herbal Medicine wont cure the Indigestion.
    Namal said yesterday the Gotha was elected by People not appointed. NO Namal you are wrong he was appointed by 52% ( 41 % to be exact according to Charles) born Racists and MR was appointed by the appointed. Get your facts right before you open your mouth.

  • 13
    4

    what I was expecting with trepidation has really happened. RR does not deserve to be in jail.
    from now onwards every tom dick and harry who wittingly or unwittingly masquerade against these rajapuka arseholes and there many a corrupt vice doing comrades will be guaranteed many a long stay as guests of the kallathoni American citizen of a war criminal who has a luxuriously padded cell of jail awaiting him in The Hague.
    the sooner we send there with his pet sharks and even they will not get close to their master whose meat will be a revolt to these two man-eating mammals.
    RJ@1.
    there’s a factual article in today’s Ceylon Daily Mirror in which a lady Indian journalist has penned that the shitting on their brains imbecile Yakko Sinhala masses have done the mistakes the biggest one of them all to vote into the human right squandering corrupt to the core wide arsed jarawama rajapuka clan.
    RJ@2.
    the shitting on their brains the stupidest clowns who are also the world’s biggest idiots will second after second unwittingly drive the murky bog deeper and deeper into the bog in the cesspit.
    I always thank Jesus whilst struggling to knell on my one foot praising him for getting my daughter and i out of the hellhole during our dark period in 1987 when I thought that discretion is the better part of valor
    these words in the mighty English language will be foreign to these 6.9 million fools who deliberately voted this mangy arsehole to sit on the artificial gold plated commode.
    cheers, in absolute happiness,
    R. J. the only human beast on this planet who’s not afraid of the might less wide arsed pufta jarawama rajapuka clan.
    .

  • 3
    0

    The so-called Terrorist of Tamil movement of LTTE and TNA ,JVP and Muslim Terrorist were act of against democracy rule of governance by the strong backing of UNP & Western countries..
    The leadership of UNP of Ranil W…. MS and CBK of SLFP’s was turn into political Guru of this unholy alliance was embodied to rule of Law by enrich immoral and unethical polices in an Island- wide since 2015 Jan 8th.
    1) Judiciary Independence and Impartiality has been contest by UNP leader of RW.
    Of cause his mischievous of legal application by henchman of Rajan R… has upside -down of democratic norms that nation has became Lawless country .
    Result of that whole legal system of operation and judges has turn to be politicization of Judiciary by under Neo-liberals Ranil Wicks of orthodox leader.
    2 Eventually that all State institutions has been shifted to era of corruption and Bond scam by Ranil W become Prime-Minster….2015 Jan 8th. All Corruption has been legitimization and accepted rule of so-called that “good governance”….by MS of ex- President and CBK of SLFP leaders.
    Undoubtedly, It well known CB Bond scam by UNP leadership was an openly involved of lost of Billions of Tax payers money of Sri Lanka.
    3 The previous Rule of Parliamentary system of governance and its democracy order was unaccepted by Speaker ? Replace of that Jungle rules of which was mishandling of that mode of function by Speaker of House.
    4 Judiciary and Police has lost its Independence and Impartiality of that Equality before Law has vanished by overnight of UNP governance by very inception of rule began in 2015 Jan 8th!
    All in all enforcement authorities of Government that come under direct politicization outlets. Institutional Independence of function of long years has lost in nature of act on public interest rules denied by UNP regime .

  • 6
    2

    Talking about law & order and rule of law in a land governed by the Sinhala and supported by the Modaya and blindly supported by the Mahanayaka pimps who are good at threatening, stealing, killing, disappointing innocent people, plundering on the property and wealth from otherers hard earned resources by making all of us miserable. Just imagine if people like Ranjan and Field Marshal Fonseka can be dragged like animals into prisons, then the fate of the innocent and defenseless people, and our plight. This government is going down. The Rajapaksha clan’s days are numbered if they continue on this destructive path.

  • 1
    3

    Jehan,
    One of your best.

  • 1
    0

    Rossibity of Chinese Constitution to come into force in April .
    Limiting religous freedom for non Eastern .
    Nothing confirmed only discussion on among politicians of all groups.

  • 2
    0

    Sorry correction possibility .
    70 % chance for a totalerian goverence.

    • 0
      0

      My dear Sinhala Man,
      I will be travelling to SL towards the end of Feb. I would like to come and see you. Please let me know whether you would be present in the country ?

      • 0
        0

        Oh oh that is a chance that you are taking. Who knows what will happen in February ??. Hope you have a solid Travel Insurance and a legal firm backing to protect you from Dengue,Mallaria and pneumococal disease not forgetting minor heart ailments

  • 0
    0

    You can kiss democracy forever .
    Please make sure your vote gives them 2/3 .

  • 3
    0

    The RR tapes reveal one thing far more starkly than any impropriety or misdemeanor that the persecutors would want us to believe. That is that the justice system is corrupt, unprofessional, inefficient and wholly under the influence of powerful people. There is a clear tendency towards an imminent lawlessness that bodes doom for the resplendent isle. When citizens cannot have confidence in the justice system, and anarchy is very much on the cards, the people have the right to rise against their oppressors. (This is as per UN conventions and HR charter)

  • 0
    0

    Ranjan was encouraged to do what he did with regard to interfering in judicial matters by his yahapalana masters. But that monkey didn’t realise the razor given to him cuts both ways. So Jehan where is the independence of the police and the judiciary that you guys touted so much under your yahapalana cabal? It was Jehan and his cohorts who took the then govt up the garden path to Geneva 30/1. Now he tries to further strangle the country. The country must be vigilant and be careful of these peaceniks.

    • 1
      0

      Helass

      “Ranjan was encouraged to do what he did with regard to interfering in judicial matters by his yahapalana masters. “


      This is not new and not going to stop any time sooner. This is a Sinhala/Buddhists disease, infected the country early on post independent period.
      Under Sinhala/Buddhist rule what could rest of the people do to stop it?

      “The country must be vigilant and be careful of these peaceniks.”

      Of course not however you should be worried murderers are being let loose by the single handed national hangman. These criminals have all the backing of the state and politicians.

      We don’t want to see you screaming heart out one day in the near future because you too maybe the victim of the free murderous rapist ranavirus. We don’t want to see them go scot free after raping you, your partner, daughters, granddaughters, your sons, grandsons, ………….. and murdering some of them.

      Hopper Sirisena had already set the precedent, before him Anuruddha Ratwatte and others practiced a noble rule, no ranaviru should be prosecuted.

      Why worry?

  • 3
    0

    In my opinion the arrest of Ranjan Ramanayake was a violation of his fundamental rights.Perhaps it was unethical on his part to have recorded the telephonic conversations with various people. Another case in point is that Senadhipathi of Avant-garde fame recorded the conversation he had with Dirukshi Dias Wickremasinghe when she was the Bribery Comisioner without her consent. That conversation was aired on FB. He was not arrested.
    It is common knowledge that people, particularly politicians are in the habit of recording such conversations oblivious to the other parties.
    Since almost all spheres of life have been politicized consequent to the Mahinda Rajapakshe regime,it became necessary for public servants including members of the judiciary to speak to politicians to assist them to obtain their rightful dues. That is the prevalent system.A Bastardized System.

    In so far as Ranjan R. Is concerned, the Police obtained a warrant from the Magistrate to search his residence only and not to take custody of his personal belongings. They the Police nevertheless did just that by taking his official fire arm and all his audio tapes which contained his absolutely Private telephone conversations. Prior to this Ranjan had not given these tapes to a third party or anyone else. Within hours of the Police taking them, they were publicized by media TV houses particularly Hiru and Derana. Obviously they had received them from the Police. likely for a monetary consideration. Airing these personal and private and confidential conversations on their TV channels to the public without the consent of the people involved is defamatory at the least and a very serious matter. The judicial system is bound to ask the Police, how these tapes which were in their custody or copies thereof came into the hands of these media houses.

  • 0
    0

    Reminds me of Robert Knox and his time in prison. The difference is stark but the act of documenting(in this case recording) is somewhat similar

  • 1
    0

    Investigate all tapes without picking and choosing and stop filthy media getting political mileage out of these tapes to gain popularity for there political parties they are supporting.
    Cost of living is sky rocketing ,farmers are waiting for free fertilizer , poor people waiting for badu malla , school children are waiting for text books and vouchers for uniforms , professionals want there 15000 ,government servants waiting for overtime payments on time etc etc
    Top priority is given for MCC , SOFA ,ACSA selling national wealth and registering madrassas schools.

  • 1
    0

    people are not worried about tapes and CDS they want relief , concessions etc implement the Manifesto

  • 1
    0

    We want president to implement the election manifesto we are not worried about tapes and CDS this good for jobless people

  • 2
    0

    Judiciary system gone to dogs

  • 0
    0

    Oh oh that is a chance that you are taking. Who knows what will happen in February ??. Hope you have a solid Travel Insurance and a legal firm backing to protect you from Dengue,Mallaria and pneumococal disease not forgetting minor heart ailments

  • 2
    0

    Spot on they are going down at a breakneck speed. Gotta is like a new broom sweeping well but he needs to replace that broom by next week. Cronysm has lifted ts ugly head,the monks are not chanting pirith but abusive language challenging innocent people for duel.Consumer goods have risen through the roof with fuel, gas and kerosene to go up soon blaming Rouhani and Khameni not Trump. So what happened to Gotta’s promises ? Him visiting Govt institutions and doing inspection is not helping the “mahajanaya”he is like the “Blla” in the dark .The poor country is kaput soon to be another Angola,DRC, Somalia or even Venezuela. May the many God’s that reside in the country help Sri Lanka

  • 1
    0

    We always here from retired elderly people no future for Sri Lanka send your children abroad also same we here from our friends settled abroad why are we hearing this and now we here it more and more the reality is our politicians from top to bottom they don’t have any love to our country first they look after their family’s followed by friends and then henchmen .
    Gota signed SOFA Maitreepala renewed it and now ACSA and MCC USA wants east then they will promote terrorism support with them weapons and there needs and unsettled South Asia region to scuttle development in our region.
    You go to Fort have a look around properties all new hotels and mixed developments owned by foreign companies we patronize them and these companies are looting our country is this is development
    this trend is continuing national wealth is sold for peanuts to settle foreign debts yes retired and elderly people are correct no future for Sri Lanka

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