By Colombo Telegraph –
The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) raises grave concerns at the decision of the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to remove the Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, following an inquiry by a Parliamentary Select Committee which the Supreme Court has held to be unconstitutional.
Issuing a statement BHRC says; “The BHRC recalls its statement of 2 January 20131* expressing serious concerns about the inquiry conducted by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), including findings made on 7 December 2012 that the Chief Justice was guilty of misconduct. The BHRC notes that many of these concerns were shared by the international community, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the independence of the judiciary and lawyers*.”
“On 1 January 2013, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ruled that the establishment of a PSC by Standing Order rather than by primary legislation was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court determined that the PSC had no legal power or authority to make a finding adversely affecting the legal rights of a judge. In so doing the Supreme Court echoed concerns expressed by the UN Human Rights Committee in December 2003 that the procedure for the removal of judges under the Sri Lankan constitution is ‘incompatible with article 14 [of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], in that it allows Parliament to exercise considerable control over the procedure for removal of judges.’*”
“On 7 January 2013, the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka, exercising writ jurisdiction, applied the Supreme Court decision and quashed the findings of the PSC as having no legal validity.On 10 and 11 January 2013, Parliament debated the findings of the PSC report and an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice and voted to impeach the Chief Justice by a majority of 106 votes (155 voting for; 49 against). On 13 January 2013, President Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed Chief Justice Bandaranayake with immediate effect.”
“The BHRC reiterates that an independent judiciary, free of any interference from the executive and legislative branches, is a necessary precondition for the fair administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, the principle of separation of powers is an essential component in any democratic society operating under the rule of law. ”
“Indeed, in its order of 2 January, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka cited the judgment of Sharvananda J in Visuvalingam v. Liyanage (1983) 1 SLR 203: The Rule of Law is the foundation of the constitution and independence of the judiciary and fundamental human rights are basic and essential features of the constitution. It is a lesson of history that the most valued constitutional rights pre-suppose an independent judiciary through which alone they can be vindicated.”
“The BHRC deprecates the Government of Sri Lanka’s disregard for the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal by acting to remove Chief Justice Bandaranayake from office on the basis of the PSC report. Due process declared the PSC report to have no legal validity; serious issues were raised -and ignored -with respect to basic fair hearing proceedings before the PSC. The Government of Sri Lanka has acted in breach of the country’s constitution and in apparent flagrant denial of the fundamental rule of law.”
1 Bar Human Rights Committee Statement: Sri Lanka: Impeachment of Chief Justice, 2 January 2013:
2 UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judiciary and Lawyers, Statements of 14.11.12 and 31.12.12 http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/NewsSearch.aspx?NTID=PRS&MID=SR_Independen_Judges.
3 UN HRC concluding observations of Dec 2003:
‘We Hope Decision Of The Court Of Appeal Will Be Respected And Complied With’ – UK Bar
Lion / January 19, 2013
Raising grave concern will not stop this family regime on its path to tatal dictator ship while camafloging it in the gab of democracy.We Srilankan need constuctive actions.It would be much better to urge your government to not to participate in the Commonwealth meeting which is scheduled to be held in Srilnka.At least this type of action will make them to open their eyes.
Safa / January 19, 2013
Sri Lanka has now become a lawless nation. The sailing of an iranian ship detained under court order is now the latest case. When our own parliment disregards the orders of the courts, what more can we expect. Now even unversity students and school going kids are taking the law into their own hands.
lanka / January 19, 2013
Amidst sharp declining of the rule of law in Sri Lanka, the leading democracies cannot simply turn a blind eye. People of this country have fully exhausted all evadable avenues. Rajapakse on his march to have absolute control over the Judiciary (legislature is already under his absolute control) has condemned and ridiculed the determination of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal a serious act of undermining of the judiciary. Either the international community should act fast or face the consequences of exodus of the people, facing real risk of persecution for opposing the tyrannical regime, including the legitimate CJ whose life is under tremendous threat.
lanka / January 19, 2013
International Community and the deaf and dumb stooges in the Rajapakse Cabinet who try to defend Mohan Peiris should read the following article published in the Colombo Telegraph sometime back (link provided below). In fact, this is a live case pending before the Supreme Court against this cheat, and it provides irrefutable evidence of this man’s total lack of integrity and professional misconduct in a case where public funds running into over a half a billion had been defrauded with this man’s knowledge and consent. Yet for the Lawless regime of Rajapakse this is exactly the right man who will guarantee total control of judiciary according to the whims and fancies of Rajapakse clan.
Simple Simon / January 19, 2013
Oh the pain of seeing the injustices being heaped on civil society in Sri Lanka.
Do these chaps have any conscience? How do they sleep at night? What do they teach their children? What kind of a legacy do they wish to leave behind? Is this really evolution in action by “survival of the ‘fittest'” by riding rough-shod over everyone else?
Is it not time to bring in Ethics as a mandatory subject in schools? But then, where will we find the teachers for this?
Importantly, what will they now teach at Law School to the next generations of lawyers?
Oh Danny boy / January 20, 2013
THESE [Edited out] IN THE PARLIAMENT DON’T SLEEP, THEY COUNT THE MONEY STOLEN FROM THE PEOPLE.
THEY FORGET THAT THE PEOPLE VOTED THESE [Edited out] INTO THE PARLIAMENT.
Mahela / January 20, 2013
I think Both UN, CW, USA and the world community should come down hard on President Rajapakse for him to think serious what the International community means Business and not to take them for granted.
All this time President Rajapakse not only hoodwinked the International community , but also humiliated and made them looking fools.
From hoodwinking UN, CW on LLRC and human right issue upto fooling India on false implementing 13 + Rajapakse think he can keep on humiliating them and making them a laughing stock and get away from the promises he gave.
Please see the following web. what Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona has questioned the value of the Commonwealth when he was asked to comment on the criticism of the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by the Commonwealth.
MARA is questioning on the validity of UN, CW, USA and other countries who helped him to win the terrorist war.
Therefore it is time for International community to come down hard on Rajapakse Regime until it RE-instate CJ Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake.
Some of the Measures could be.
1)Total travel Ban on President ,Govt.Ministers and their Families….as most of their official Meetings are mere Pleasure trips wasting people’s money.
2) Freeze all aid given to Govt. and direct them through INGO’s.
3)All IMF, WB Lonas be given only on condition that GOVT. should use them only on people and should stop importing duty free vehicles for Ministers and Govt.Goons.
4)Restriction on Tourists visiting Sri Lanka
5) Cancel CHOGM and ban Sri Lanka participating from CW,UN and international conferances, functions and meetings.
6) Trade restrictions and freeze concessions given to GOSL.
7)Direct help given to Minority communities and people in need, such as building houses, community centers and Childrens and adult homeless shelters etc.
8)Direct nutrition programmes, health care and education on needy people.
9)Freeze all Foreign Personal bank accounts, fund accounts, assets, real estate and shares invested by all Govt. Ministers and their family members.
10) Give a dead line for change…and if GOSL not agreed use Internal and External pressure for Regime Change.