Liberals condemn move to impeach Sri Lanka’s chief justice

Published: January 11, 2013
Liberal Leader Bob Rae. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Liberal Leader Bob Rae. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Liberal Leader Bob Rae has condemned the move to impeach Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Chief Justice saying it is part of a continuing deterioration of democracy in the South Asian island state.

“We are gravely concerned by the Sri Lankan government’s highly controversial and unconstitutional impeachment proceedings against the country’s Chief Justice, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake,” said Rae.

He called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to immediately raise this issue with the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, whose mandate includes disciplining violations of the association’s basic principles.

“As recently raised by the Canadian Bar Association, the lack of due process and open attack on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law are deeply troubling.”

“As a member of the Commonwealth and the designated host of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Sri Lanka has a duty to uphold democracy and the rule of law. As they have failed to do so, Canada has has an obligation to hold its government to account at the highest level,” Rae, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan parliament Friday voted by a majority to impeach the country’s Chief Justice Bandaranayake, beginning the process to remove her from office.

The impeachment motion was passed by a two-third majority with 155 members voting for and 49 against it. It is now up to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take a decision if he will remove the country’s first woman chief justice, Xinhua reported.

The government accuses her of corruption, an allegation the chief justice denies, BBC reported. Recent court rulings said the process was unconstitutional, and she may refuse to leave.

Critics of the government say that the top judge is being victimised and the independence of the judiciary is being challenged. The government denies this, the report added.

Bandaranayake fell out of favour with the government after she ruled against a government sponsored bill, Xinhua reported.

The UN had warned that the impeachment could send a negative signal to the international community about Sri Lanka’s commitment to its human rights obligations.

The Special UN Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, had said that she did not share the government’s view that the impeachment process was its internal matter. – IANS and agencies




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