Democracy

SRI LANKA: A Tragic Transformation: The Strange Case Of The 1978 Constitution

By Basil Fernando I have borrowed the title of this article from the immortal work of Robert Lewis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This novel is about a mysterious and tragic transformation caused by the use of certain chemicals. By the use of such chemical concoctions, Dr. Jekyll, an amiable, […]

INDIA: The other, invisible victims of CAA in Meghalaya

Article | India | 18-03-2020

By Avinash Pandey Despite all the claims of them too being “atoot ang” or unbreakable part of the country, news from the North Eastern states of India seldom make it to the national headlines, with The Telegraph, published from Kolkata being an exception, perhaps because of its proximity. So there were no surprises on national […]

SRI LANKA: Second Anniversary of the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons

The establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) on 28th February 2018 with a broad mandate to investigate the fate of the missing and disappeared and protect the rights of their relatives, represented an explicit acknowledgement by the State of its responsibility to establish the truth and ensure justice. It was a milestone in […]

WORLD: 30th anniversary of Richard de Zoysa’s murder, and the continuing culture of impunity

Statement | World | 27-02-2020

30 years ago, Richard de Zoysa was abducted and disappeared. His dead body was later found on a beach. During the same period, literally tens of thousands of persons throughout the country were also disappeared, and none of the cases relating to such disappearances have been resolved through genuine investigations and prosecutions. Indeed, the process […]

SRI LANKA: How can unscrupulous lawyers manipulate delays in the law?

By Basil Fernando This article is about the manner in which unscrupulous lawyers could manipulate delays in the law to their personal advantage. This type of behavior is now a permanent feature in Sri Lanka’s legal system. Analysis of the methods used for such manipulation are based on experiences from actual cases. Reflections on the […]

BANGLADESH: Torturous law-enforcement system with impunity and rewards to perpetrators impede protection of rights

A Written Submission to the 43rd Regular Session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) draws attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures about the institutionalised practice of torture in Bangladesh, which is an incumbent member of the […]

WORLD: Dispossession caused by ultra-violent methods of civil rights suppression

Statement | World | 23-02-2020

In many countries in Asia, it has become common for the state to use ultra-violent methods to control or deny the civil rights of people. Several countries used enforced disappearance as such method of ultra-violently suppressing civil rights. Extrajudicial killings are justified under various pretexts, such as control of the drug trade; or achieving constitutional […]

PHILIPPINES: POLICE REFORMS CANNOT BE ACHIEVED THROUGH ULTRA-VIOLENT METHODS

The South China Morning Post recently published a report quoting Colonel Romeo Caramat stating that the Philippines’ ultra-violent approach in curbing drugs has not been effective. He further went on to say that “shock and awe definitely did not work”. The drug supply is still widespread and illicit drugs can be obtained anywhere, anytime in […]

THAILAND: Drop Criminal Complaint Against Fortify Rights Senior Human Rights Specialist Puttanee Kangkun

Thai authorities or Thai poultry company Thammakaset Company Limited should immediately drop criminal defamation complaints against Puttanee Kangkun and other human rights defenders, Fortify Rights said today. On December 6, Thammakaset filed a complaint against Puttanee with the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court for 14 social media engagements expressing support for human rights defenders. Puttanee is […]

BANGLADESH: Muzzling press freedom triggering risks on livelihood of Information Technology professionals

Bangladesh’s incumbent government, headed by Sheikh Hasina, continues curbing civic space and muzzling freedom of expression. The latest target has been Netra News – an investigative news portal launched from Sweden on 26 December 2019. Bangladesh government blocked access to the news portal within 72 hours of its launching with a report entitled “A wrist of luxury”. The […]

INDIA/SRI LANKA: Gang Rapes, Justice and Civilization in India and Sri Lanka

An incident was reported in December 2019 from India regarding the gang rape of a woman and what happened thereafter. The news of the gang rape stirred up a massive protest from many parts of India. Among those who were involved in the protest were sections of the intelligencia of India such as Professors, doctors, […]

BANGLADESH: Defending rights requires unified resistance

A Joint Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, and Odhikar on the occasion of International Human Rights Day Dhaka/Manila/Hong Kong, 10 December 2019: On International Human Rights Day, the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and Odhikar pay tribute to and stand in […]

PAKISTAN: Activist languishing in jail a month after his arrest on trumped up charges

One month since Professor Muhammad Ismail was arbitrarily detained, he is still languishing in prison on trumped-up charges of ‘hate speech’, ‘spreading false information’ and ‘cyberterrorism’. CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) calls on the Pakistan authorities to halt his persecution and release him immediately and unconditionally. In […]

SRI LANKA: Election 2019 – Hamlet without a Prince of Denmark

By Basil Fernando The 2019 election has not generated any real enthusiasm among the people. There have been the usual rituals of meetings, distribution of rice parcels, promises of other little santhosom (gifts) – those are what the sovereign people of Sri Lanka have been offered. In reality, they have been left with a beggar’s […]

SRI LANKA: What happens to the people happens also to judges, lawyers, and others

A comment on the memoir of Former Chief Justice Dr Shiranee Bandaranayake entitled “Hold Me in Contempt” Basil Fernando Attorney-At-Law This memoir by former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake on the (now nullified) impeachment is a significant contribution to the cause of promoting the independence of judiciary in Sri Lanka. Its significance lies in the […]

WORLD: Thai judge survives shooting himself in the chest in open court as a protest against interference with judicial independence

By Basil Fernando In a Thai courthouse on 4th October 2019, Judge Khanakorn Pianchana shot himself in the chest as a protest against interference with the independence of judges in their decision-making process. Fortunately, he survived the suicide attempt – made in open court – and is reportedly out of intensive care. Regarding the issue […]

WORLD: A NATION IS NOT MERELY TERRITORY OR AN IDEOLOGY BUT A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS

By Basil Fernando Legalistically speaking, a nation is a people living together in a particular geographical region. But legal definitions do not create a nation. The meaning of nation is far deeper than any legal definition of it. Often politicians define a nation in terms of ideologies. For example, if a nation at a given […]

SRI LANKA: අශ්වයා පණ අදිද් දී ජොකියා වීමට පොරකෑම

බැසිල් ප‍්‍රනාන්දු පාලකයෙකු පත් කර ගන්නේ රාජ්‍ය තන්ත‍්‍රය ජනතා සුභසිද්ධිය සදහා කි‍්‍රයාත්මක කරවා ගැනීම සදහාය. දැන් කලක සිටම ලංකාවේ පවතින ප‍්‍රධානම ප‍්‍රශ්නය නම් රාජ්‍ය තන්ත‍්‍රය පණ අදින තත්ත්වයක පසුවීමය. මූල්‍ය කටයුතු පිළිබඳ අංශයේ වුවත්, නිෂ්පාදන අංශයේ වුවත්, ආරක්ෂක අංශයේ වුවත්, යුක්තිය පසිඳලීමේ යෙදී සිටින ආයතන වල වුවත්, සුබසාධන පිළිබඳ අංශයේ එනම් සෞඛ්‍ය, අධ්‍යාපනය, වැඩිහිටියන් හා […]

WORLD: International Statement of Solidarity on Assassination of Derk Wiersum

A Joint Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission, Lawyers for Lawyers, and 30 other civil society organisations of the world 4 October 2019 – We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply shocked by the brutal killing of our Dutch colleague Derk Wiersum. We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Wiersum’s family, friends, colleagues and all […]

SRI LANKA: Weaponisation of Ambiguity – Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution

  By Basil Fernando  The 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka is an outstanding example of how meaning can be manipulated through the weaponisation of ambiguity. It uses language that gives the appearance of a liberal democratic constitution of a republic while also putting in place various devices that severely undermine all the basic norms and standards […]