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Impeachment of CJ is a threat to democracy & would lead to a totalitarian regime – IHR

‘Intellectuals For Human Rights. (IHR) condemning the attempt of the government to impeach the chief justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake states in a press release that such a move is a “direct threat to the independence of the judiciary and democracy” that would “lead to a totalitarian regime.”

Full text of the IHR press release:

‘Intellectuals For Human Rights. (IHR) vehemently condemns the attempt of the government to impeach the chief justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake. IHR strongly believe that this is a direct threat to the independence of the judiciary and therefore the democracy. Independent functioning and check and balance process of the executive, legislator and the judiciary is the key to a democratic society. If the executive and the legislator violate the independent functioning of the judiciary it will lead to a totalitarian regime.

It is clear that there is a serious conflict between the executive and the judiciary over certain government policies which conflict with the constitution. The president and the government seem to expect favourable decisions from the Supreme Court (SC) when matters that SC interpretations are sought. The conflict started after recent supreme court decisions were against the government's wish. The Divineguma Bill is the most recent issue that the government up in arms against the SC.

At a meeting with the constituent parties of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had decided to bring an impeachment motion against Chief Justice and now it has been handed over to the Speaker. Hence, the impeachment is not of certain individuals or not only against the Justice Bandaranayake in particular but a clear showpiece of government attitude towards the judiciary. We, IHR stress that whole processes specially, the objective of the impeachment is not acceptable in any norms and urge the government to uphold the independence of the judiciary.

Dr.Anura Karunatilake

General Secretary

Intellectuals for Human Rights (IHR)

Former CJ talks regarding impeachment against present CJ

Former Chief Justice Sarath N. de Silva has commented regarding the impeachment process brought about by the government against the present Chief Justice.

He has said if there are allegations against the Chief Justice they should be investigated by an independent body. He has pointed out that the very people who brought the motion against her will be holding the inquiry against her and it would be blatantly one sided and fundamentally flawed as the investigators would be MPs from the government.

He also said the standing orders stipulating the steps to be taken by Parliament to impeach the chief justice were a hurried list of steps brought forth by Mr. J.R. Jayewardene’s government in order to impeach Neville Samarakone, a former Chief Justice and do not provide for the person who metes out justice to the citizens of this country a chance to be served justly.

Govt. pumps oxygen for imperialist interventions

Imperialists are getting more opportunities to interfere in the affairs of the country as a result of the idiotic moves of the Rajapaksa government say political analysts.

This is further confirmed by the address by US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe speaking during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva that met yesterday (1st) they point out. (Excerpts from her speech have been produced in another news item here.)

Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe explained regarding the present situation in the country. However, USA has stated that it is concerned regarding human rights violations still being committed in the country.

 

Judiciary is the latest victim of the dictatorial frenzy – JVP

 

The latest victim of the dictatorial frenzy is the judiciary and his party is taking measures to rally all those who represent democracy including lawyers and other professionals to carry out a massive protest action says the Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP Parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake.

Speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta today (1st) Mr. Dissanayake said, “At the moment the executive is pressurizing the judiciary. We believe that we should inform the stand of the JVP regarding its latest developments. This government acts undemocratically in a dictatorial frenzy. The government follows a system that represses, removes and destroys all institutions and individuals that stand against its dictatorial frenzy.

Some time back media institutions that were an obstacle for the dictatorial frenzy were attacked and destroyed and journalists assaulted and chased out of the country. Several of them were murdered. Institutions and individuals were not allowed to carry on their normal procedures. The judiciary has become a serious victim of this process. The secretary to the Judiciary Service Commission Manjula Tillekeratne had issued an announcement that stated the JSC was being pressured by a higher up in the government. He also stated the situation was settled after explanations. He also stated that they were prepared to confront any pressure from outside and would protect independence of the judiciary. According to the constitution of the JSC the Secretary could only state decisions taken by the Commission. He has to act according to the JSC decisions. Hence, he is only an envoy of the JSC. Hence, it is the JSC that consists of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court that revealed the pressure exerted to the JSC. However, it was the envoy that was attacked.

The government has not had a proper investigation regarding the attack on Mr. Manjula Tillekeratne. No one has been arrested or taken before a court. Instead the government is fabricating stories and carrying out mudslinging. Violating Parliamentary norms an anonymous letter said to have been received by the President was tabled in parliament through Deputy Minister Jayaratne Herath. It contained fabrications regarding the attack on Mr. Manjula Tillekeratne. Instead of carrying out investigations to find the real culprits the government is using the attack carried out by it to carry out a campaign of slanders and defamation against Mr. Manjula Tillekeratne and the Chief Justice. The campaign has brought to such a low level that these slanders and defamation were tabled in Parliament violating Parliamentary traditions. Also, the responsibility of the attack is being diverted to others. The government does so as the real perpetrators are individuals that the government has to protect. What was being manipulated was a process to get the judiciary to tow the government line. The attack on Mr. Manjula Tillekeratne was an item in this agenda. The mudslinging, the defamation campaigns, Mr. Pradeep Kariyawasam, the husband of the Chief Justice is suddenly taken before a court with a ‘B’ report and an impeachment process being unleashed against the Chief Justice are all items of this manipulation. The government has launched this ‘operation’ and its final step is the removal of the Chief Justice from her post. All constituent parties of the government have agreed to bring in an impeachment motion against the chief Justice. The media has reported that 118 signatures have been obtained. The motion has been handed over to the Speaker by now.

It is in 1978 constitution that J.R. Jayawardene made provisions for such an impeachment. When J.R. Jayawardene received a 5/6th majority in the Parliament and suffered from a dictatorial frenzy he also amended the Constitution according to his wishes. He included clause 107 to the constitution so that he could have a control over the judiciary. The clause states that an impeachment motion could be brought against the chief Justice only “on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity”. Many interpretations could be given to ‘misbehaviour’. The UNP, when it was in power, brought an impeachment motion against former Chief Justice Neville Samarakone. He had never been a judge. Mr. J.R. Jayawardene made him the Chief Justice to get his work done. However, he clashed with JR and an impeachment motion was brought against him due to a statement he had made. However, due to standing orders in Parliament the motion had to be withdrawn. JR was not able to get the impeachment again despite changing standing orders.

In history we have seen governments using clause 107 when they are unable to manipulate the judiciary. The present process too is such an attempt against the Chief Justice. The impeachment motion is entertained by the Speaker if it is signed by not less than 75 MPs and includes facts relevant to misbehavior. The charges are compiled by MPs. Once the motion is handed over a select committee of MPs is appointed. It is the MPs who make charges and also give the judgment. A report is compiled. This is debated by MPs. This shows that JR included clause 107 to the Constitution so that a government that has a majority in Parliament could remove the Chief Justice. Is this process democratic? Clause 107 included in the constitution by JR Jayawardene who suffered from dictatorial frenzy is being used today by Mahinda Rajapaksa who also suffers from the same dictatorial frenzy to tame the judiciary. This is not democracy, rationalness or honesty.

The main issue is that Rajapaksas are suffering from a psychopathy. It is the malady that they could do anything when they have power. Basil Rajapaksa thinks he is the Minister of Economic Development, he is the brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa and he could do anything. He thinks judiciary obstructed the ‘Divi Neguma’ bill brought to boost his political project. As such, Basil Rajapaksa, due to his psychopathy he is suffering from, thinks that the judiciary doesn’t act according to his whims and fancies. It is from there this conspiracy was hatched. This is not the stand point of ordinary SLFP members or its seniors. Most of the signatures have been obtained using arbitrary tactics. What is active here is the power fury of the family.

We do not accept the capitalist system. However, capitalist system has created three pillars of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive for the common existence of the society. The existence of a society depends on the checks and balances of these institutions. Rajapaksa family is carrying out the sledgehammer attack on the judiciary, one of those pillars. They have already repressed the legislature. As a result the society is deteriorating. The judiciary, they themselves referred to as supreme, is being hammered. Where will this end? Do you wait until you or your institution becomes a victim of this dictatorial frenzy? You have to decide whether you embrace it as you are scared of it or whether you are prepared to fight it. It is necessary to fight against this dictatorial frenzy. This process should not be allowed to go forward. What do they use the 2/3rd majority that has been manipulated in parliament for? The only law that has been adopted is the 18th amendment. It is not used for the benefit of ordinary masses. It is used to consolidate and propagate Rajapaksa family rule.

This should be opposed. The JVP will rally progressive forces including lawyers and other professionals to launch a massive protest campaign from next week. This dictatorial frenzy should be defeated. This dictatorial frenzy should not be allowed to repress any more individuals or institutions. This should be the aspiration of all of us. We ask masses in this country to rally for this noble cause.”

The Member of the Central Committee of the JVP and Colombo MMC Member Sunil Watagala was also present.

 

 

US expresses concern regarding attempt to impeach CJ

 

The US, expressing its concern regarding the move to impeach Chief Justice, has asked the government to end its interference with the judicial process, protect members of the judiciary from attacks, and restore a fair, independent and transparent mechanism to oversee judicial appointments. This was stated by US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe speaking during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva.

In her speech the US Ambassador said “Serious human rights violations continue, including disappearances, torture, extra-judicial killings, and threats to freedom of expression.  Opposition figures have been harassed, detained, and prosecuted.  There have been no credible investigations or prosecutions for attacks on journalists and media outlets.  In the past 30 days, a judge who questioned executive interference in the judiciary was severely beaten in broad daylight by multiple assailants and derogatory posters appeared in Colombo threatening the director of an NGO challenging a government bill that would weaken provincial councils.  No arrests have been made.”

The US has also asked the government of Sri Lanka to

a) implement recommendations of the LLRC, remove military from civilian functions, create mechanisms to address cases of the missing and detained, issue death certificates, land reforms, devolution of power and disarming paramilitaries.

b) to transfer NGO oversight to a civilian institution and protect freedom of expression and space for civil society to operate, by inter alia investigating and prosecuting attacks on media personnel and human rights defenders.

c)      end impunity for human rights violations and fulfill legal obligations regarding     accountability by initiating independent and transparent investigations, which meet international best practices, into alleged violations of international law and hold those found culpable to account.