IBA condemns Sri Lankan judicial system

AN International Bar Association (IBA) report has condemned the deteriorating judicial and constitutional system of Sri Lanka.

The report finds that the government of Sri Lanka has attempted to act unconstitutionally, that the independence of the judiciary has been undermined by the chief justice and that the Sri Lankan media has been harassed and intimidated.
Until last year, Sri Lanka had a fairly healthy judicial and economic climate, but in an attempt to hang on to power, President Kumer-atanga has scythed through the country's constitutional and judicial system.
The government has increasingly interfered with the independence of judges and magistrates. Chief Justice Sarath Silva and his Judicial Services Commission have removed judges and magistrates without due process. The dismissals have followed cases in which members of the political opposition have been acquitted on what looked like trumped up charges.
When the parliamentary opposition attempted to impeach Silva this June, the government circumvented the constitution to block the motion. The Supreme Court, chaired by Silva, issued a restraining order on the motion. The government has also removed the head of the country's anti-corruption association, a judicial body that is key to securing funding from international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund.
The president dissolved parliament this June in an attempt to stay in power in what the IBA describes as “an attempt to act unconstitutionally by bypassing the legal process for constitutional change”. Lord Brennan QC, the leader of the IBA mission to Sri Lanka, said: “We're not satisfied of either the presence of sufficient safeguards or the absence of interference.
“A better future for Sri Lanka depends on a stable democracy. This requires an independent judiciary, a free media and a constitutional framework that commands confidence.”
Sri Lanka's next general election is scheduled for 6 December, and should the government be returned, by fair means or foul, the future could look even bleaker for Sri Lanka's judicial system.