By Lawyers Collective –
The Lawyers Collective has carefully considered the events that led to the removal of the Chief Justice. Our struggle to protect the independence of the judiciary has entered a new phase, with the government (the Legislature & the Executive) going through with a purported impeachment despite the determination of the Supreme Court & the writ of certiorari quashing same by the Court of Appeal.
We are also gravely concerned with the several threats & acts of intimidation on members of our fraternity, such as death threats on leading members who campaigned against the impeachment of Honorable Chief Justice Bandaranayaka, the assassination attempt on Mr. Wanninayake, shots fired outside the residence of BASL President Mr. Rajapakse PC, and the attack on a lady lawyer (who wishes to remain anonymous) by unidentified motor cyclists who attempted to strangle her. In this struggle we were engaged in carrying out our professional duty as well as our duty as citizens who are under obligation to uphold & defend the Constitution and the democratic rights of the citizens of this country.
IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES:
1. Despite there being an appointment of a “Chief Justice” under controversial circumstances, without lawfully removing the 43rd Chief Justice of the country, we have to appear before any bench of the Supreme Court, in view of our professional duties and obligations towards our clients.
2. We pledge not to bow down to the strong- arm political tactics that is being used to undermine our judicial system. We have faith in our judicial system which we have zealously protected over centuries and which we will continue to protect and preserve for our future generations at whatever personal cost to us.
3. We call upon all segments of society, civil organizations, political parties, all those committed to the restoration of Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary to join with us in this crucial struggle, to publicly condemn these unlawful acts to undermine and destroy the independence of the judiciary and to take all possible steps to create public awareness of the seriousness of this crisis and the very real danger the country faces.
4. We have seen some “doctored media footage” attempting to mislead the masses by showing some purported certain acts of ours. We wish to categorically state that all our steps in this struggle were carefully discussed, evaluated and carried out, with responsibility and we will continue to do so within lawful and democratic means. We call upon our colleagues in the profession not to fall prey to these political attempts and to remain true to the oath that we have taken to protect and defend the constitution and thereby the rights of the people and to fight to protect these rights.
5. In the present context of our struggle we call upon the legal fraternity in the forefront of this struggle, to broaden, activate, empower our regional associations and members to educate and foster a longer and sustained participation of the people in this struggle.
WE REITERATE THAT IN ALL OUR EFFORTS we were and we will be true to our oath as Attorneys at law which we are bound morally and legally to defend. We will continue to carry out our obligations notwithstanding any threat or intimidation; in fact we are far more resolute in this mission now than ever before.
In pursuance of our considered decisions, we will be organizing public discussions, seminars and meetings throughout the country, and convene a national convention of professional bodies, civil society organizations, trade unions, and other organizations to take concrete decisions regarding the struggle to restore Rule of Law, Independence of Judiciary and Democracy itself.