In a hard hitting report, the British Bar condemned the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and urged that Sri Lanka should not be allowed to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November. It also urged that Sri Lanka be suspended from the Commonwealth.
The report prepared by international jurist and eminent legal practitioner Geoffrey Robertson QC on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) also urged the Queen not to attend CHOGM.
The report accused the seven government members in the impeachment panel and the 117 who signed the “false and fabricated” impeachment motion to be refused entry visas and to freeze their bank accounts in Britain.
Mr. Robertson said the most basic rights of a defendant were denied by a “Star Chamber” of seven government ministers who put her on a secret trial. They were all biased against her because of a judgement she had given against the government, and they refused to allow entry not only to the people but to distinguished international observers. They gave her no time to prepare a defence and told her there were no witnesses to be called when this was not the position. As soon as she withdrew they called 16 witnesses whom she was thus prevented from cross-examining.
Mr. Robertson also said, “Given the blatant breach of the rule of law, for which the government purports to stand, it would make a mockery of the Commonwealth as an organisation if it permits the Rajapaska government to showcase its destruction of judicial independence by presiding over CHOGM.”
He said Britain should ensure that the Queen did not attend because her presence in Colombo “would provide a royal seal of approval for the propaganda interests of President Rajapaska”.
Based on the 66-page report which analysed the background for the impeachment, how the impeachment process took place, protest by the lawyers, judges and civil rights groups and the orders by the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court related to the impeachment, the BHRC ruled that beyond doubt the Sri Lankan Government has breached the Latimer House Principles.
Writing on the report BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said the findings, “confirm that the removal of the Ms Bandaranayke was a contrived attack on the independence of the judiciary.” “The BHRC hopes that, armed with this information, responsible organs of the British Parliament, and of the Commonwealth, and Bar Associations throughout the world, will be step up to their international responsibilities and take appropriate action,” Mr. Brimelow said.
The report concluded that CJ Bandaranayake was innocent of the misconduct charges which brought about her removal from office last month and it was in reality a reprisal for her “careful and correct” decision in a case where she had ruled against the government.
The BHRC had invited distinguished international jurist, Geoffrey Robertson QC to prepare the report following the Sri Lankan government’s refusal the entry to an International Bar Association fact-finding mission led by a former Chief Justice of India.
“His report is an authoritative and devastating indictment of those government ministers and Members of Parliaments who set out to destroy judicial independence by removing a judge whose decision, on a constitutional case was conscientious and correct, but nonetheless had displeased the President and his government,” the head of BHRC said writing a covering letter to the report.
“The BHRC believes that this report will have a lasting impact. It is a fair, objective and expert study of the evidence and procedures used to effect the removal of the Chief Justice. It is, further, and more generally, a clear authority on the appropriate procedures for putting judges on trial for allegations of misconduct in any circumstance,” he stated.
“No one who reads this report can put it down without thinking that something must be done to hold accountable those politicians who have acted to remove a Chief Justice simply because of her insistence that she remain independent of government,” he observed.
Reputed jurist Geoffrey Robertson Q.C. has served as the first President of the UN Court in Sierra Leone, a ‘distinguished jurist’ member of the UN Justice Council, responsible for selecting and disciplining UN judges and had defended the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago at his impeachment proceedings in 2007.
In his report Mr. Robertson noted that “Mrs Bandaranayke, Sri Lanka’s first woman judge, was forced out because her “careful and conscientious” rulings had displeased the government and the family of President Rajapaksa”. Mr Robertson’s report analysed the charges against her and stated they were not based on evidence and that some of the allegations – such as the use of her title in bank statements – could not conceivably amount to ‘misconduct’. He accused the government of further subverting the independence of judges by organising its supporters to demonstrate against her with abusive slogans and by paying for firework displays and other celebrations of her dismissal.
In a concluding note Mr. Robertson said, “Sri Lankan political leaders treated the head of their judiciary as if she were public enemy number one, abusing the democratic process to put her through an unfair trial as punishment for doing her constitutional duty and then celebrating her unjust removal with feasting and fireworks.” (Susitha R. Fernando)
The CHOGM should not be held in Colombo - too much damage has been done and now trying cover up. the world knows what The GOSL has done beside all money allocated to this event will go to line many pockets instead. Without the Western powers you would not be able to even spell the word "Western"
daryll hair Saturday, 02 March 2013 05:28 PM
What type of example had the commonwelth set by ignoring the Sri Lanka civil war for 30 long years??
kiwi Saturday, 02 March 2013 09:21 AM
What type of example has SL set by being in the Commonwealth??????
Fouzy Sunday, 03 March 2013 12:00 AM
What a devastating condemnation. Those who convicted her will have to live with it forever.
via DM Android App
me Monday, 04 March 2013 12:00 AM
good report. via DM Android App
Askiesia Ababha Sunday, 03 March 2013 12:55 AM
Exactly, 30 years of curse and terror by Praba sponsored by India and the West!
son Saturday, 02 March 2013 12:00 AM
let the goverment have the common wealth meeting with PM Mervin. we dont need a queen via DM Android App
Siril De Silva Sunday, 03 March 2013 10:05 AM
Except the Asia /Africa clout no western countries will paticipate including the head of commonwealth .
eranga Saturday, 02 March 2013 06:58 AM
please save sri lanka from the hands of those who ruining my motherland.. Teach those rulers who destroying my motherland for sake of their Family..
MagodisThuma Saturday, 02 March 2013 07:07 AM
We don't need the British Queen..We have a complete royal family !.
Weerawansa Saturday, 02 March 2013 07:12 AM
Queen needs not come we are a republic
Kondebendapucheena Saturday, 02 March 2013 07:21 AM
Please stop this unwanted summit at the cost of Tax payers money we have enough Boru Shows already
Ranjit Saturday, 02 March 2013 03:05 AM
This is interfering with the internal affairs of a sovereign state. But GOSL is responsible for not following proper procedures in the impeachment of CJ.
puttalam buruwa Saturday, 02 March 2013 03:37 AM
Sri Lankan government can sing the song "we do not need Western powers, and go ahead with the meeting as scheduled".
rega Saturday, 02 March 2013 08:04 AM
what a report. i couldnt find a word incorrect (having red the full report). Uneducated punishing the educated, but they r naked.
Max Saturday, 02 March 2013 08:08 AM
Don't forget, a politician killed a British national sometime ago, roaming the streets free now & investigations is "still going on". CJ was removed in 72 hours. No justice. Don't come!
azath Saturday, 02 March 2013 08:13 AM
Do you think Commonwealth internal affairs?
Anver Saturday, 02 March 2013 08:22 AM
Sri Lanka is no more a democracy, so don't need commonwealth.
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