Members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament should reject the impeachment motion to remove Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, that will be put before Parliament on 10-11 January 2013, the ICJ said today.
The ICJ call comes after a three-member panel of the Supreme Court, in a decision issued on 1 January 2013, ruled that the impeachment procedure in Parliament was not constitutionally valid, finding that such procedures could only be established ‘by law’ enacted by Parliament. The Standing Orders governing the current impeachment investigative process are not considered ‘law’ under the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
“The assault on the independence of the Sri Lankan judiciary in recent months has brought Sri Lanka to the brink of a constitutional crisis,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director. “If the impeachment motion is passed in Parliament in defiance of decisions of the country’s judiciary, it will signal a massive breakdown in the rule of law and checks and balances.”
The ICJ stresses that in a democratic society operating under the rule of law, the principle of judicial review is paramount and judges have the ultimate authority to determine what the law provides.
The impeachment process against Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake must follow international standards of due process says the ICJ.
“Many people in Sri Lanka have called the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Bandaranayake a politically motivated attack on the independence of the judiciary,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia Director of the ICJ. “If the government wants to dispel any such notion, it must adhere to international standards of due process in the impeachment proceedings.”
The proceedings come in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on a controversial bill, the Divi Neguma bill, before Parliament.
The Sri Lankan government must immediately cease its assault on the independence of the judiciary, the ICJ said in a new report released today.
The 150-page report, Authority without Accountability: The Crisis of Impunity in Sri Lanka (PDF), documents how, and why, it has become nearly impossible for people who have suffered serious violations of their human rights to receive justice in Sri Lanka. Recent attacks on judicial officers and judges only highlight the systematic erosion of accountability mechanisms.
The Sri Lankan government must immediately provide justice for the physical assault on Manjula Tillekaratne and cease public efforts to undermine the independence of the country’s judiciary, the ICJ said today.
Unidentified persons assaulted the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission on 7 October 2012. Lawyers and judges held a strike to protest recent and escalating threats to judicial independence in Sri Lanka.