01 November, 2012

Sri Lanka ~ bid to remove Chief Justice

Update 28th February 2013:  
Update 5th February:  Asia News - Bleak state of the rule of law in Sri Lanka

Update 13th January:  The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has stated that it is deeply concerned by the move to impeach the Chief Justice - see Statement 11th January.


Original Post:

The Honourable Dr. Shirana Bandaranayake is Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.  A move to impeach her is pending and has the appearance of a serious attack on the independence of the Sri Lankan judiciary.

The Sri Lankan government wished the Sri Lankan Parliament to legislate to transfer certain powers back from the Provinces to central government.  A constitutional challenge was made to this Bill and the Supreme Court upheld the challenge stating that the Bill required the consent of the Provinces.

It appears that there is now a move within Parliament to have the Chief Justice removed.  Proponents of this argue - without specificity - that the Chief Justice's behaviour over the last year has "affected the sovereignty of the people."

The International Bar Association has commented about what appears to be a serious attack on the independence of the Sri Lankan judiciary and has called on Sri Lanka Government to promote rule of law and prevent harassment and intimidation of judges and magistrates

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC
A BBC interview with Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC is available.  (The audio is in English).

Baroness Kennedy QC has said:  ‘An independent judiciary functions as a critical institutional mechanism providing a check and balance on the executive and legislative branches of a democratic society. The independence of this organ is vital, not only to ensure that the judiciary is able to discharge its functions without fear or favour, but also to uphold public confidence in the legal system as a whole and the due administration of justice.’

Sri Lanka became independent on 4th February 1948 as the Dominion of Ceylon.  In 1972 it became a republic - the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is a member of the Commonwealth.


References:

BBC 1st November 2012

International Bar Association - Sri Lanka

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC
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