Former MP Udaya Gammanpila made this statement as part of a series of tweets with reference to the ability to prosecute former President Maithripala Sirisena for any alleged crime in relation to the Easter Sunday attacks.
*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.
To evaluate the former MP’s claim FactCheck consulted the provisions of article 35 of the constitution as they stood both before and after the introduction of 19A (full provisions available in longer version on www. factcheck.lk).
The plain text reading of the applicable constitutional provisions in Article 35 provides the following conclusion: Sri Lankan presidents—whether before or after 19A—were never afforded immunity for their actions, after they ceased to be president, and this absence of immunity applies even to actions taken while they were president.
Additionally, FactCheck found that no legal precedent has departed from the plain text reading of the constitution regarding presidential immunity.
Gammanpila’s statement that “no law has stripped presidential immunity against criminal prosecution conferred by Article 35 of the Constitution” is not technically incorrect. However, it is irrelevant to his claim, because a covering that did not exist cannot be stripped. Gammanpila incorrectly claimed that President Sirisena presently enjoys immunity from prosecution. The information presented here shows that no law is needed to strip President Sirisena of immunity while he is no longer the president, because the law has never afforded Sri Lankan presidents immunity after they cease to hold office—even for actions taken during their term as president.
Therefore, we classify the MP’s statement as FALSE.
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