SRI LANKA: The executive is exposing Sri Lankans to a dangerous situation by ruthlessly attacking the judiciary

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is now engaged in a ruthless attack on the Chief Justice, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the independence of the judiciary in general. The immediate reason for the attacks is the Supreme Court decision against the Divineguma Bill and the JSC decision to take disciplinary action against a judicial officer alleged to have been engaged in corruption who is supposed to be close to the government.

At the moment the attack is being led by Minister G.L. Peiris whose unscrupulous commitment to defend the executive for his own personal reasons has been demonstrated time and time again. The law and the independence of the judiciary seem to be far removed from the comprehension of this one-time professor of law.

While the police are filing reports of their inability to investigate the alleged attempted abduction and attack on the secretary of the JSC, G.L. Peiris was engaged in a garrulous attack on the secretary himself and questioning his seniority. The obvious purpose of this attack is to create division among the judicial officers. However, what is scandalous is that G.L. Peiris does not care about the actual attack on this officer who holds one of the highest posts in the country. Instead of calling for investigations into a serious crime against a senior government officer he is attempting to divert the attention and to attack the victim himself. That is not just insensibility but sheer brutality.

The anger against the secretary of the JSC is because of the press statement he released on behalf of the JSC stating that there is interference by the executive in the JSC and with the independence of the judiciary. He specifically mentioned the case of the disciplinary action against a judge by the JSC which seems to have angered the executive.

It is an extremely dangerous situation if the JSC cannot take a disciplinary action against a judicial officer against whom there are serious allegations of corruption. The result would be that there would be no investigations into such actions and the judicial office itself could be used for the personal profit of the individuals concerned and his political friends.

However, what is more frightening was demonstrated by the incident which took place yesterday (October 25) at Galle when in broad daylight a well known businessman was attacked by a criminal gang who cut his hand and foot as a result of which he subsequently died. This kind of brazen behaviour on the part of criminals can happen only when they have begun to perceive that the law enforcement mechanism and the judiciary are in crisis and are unable to enforce the law.

When the executive makes irresponsible attacks on the judiciary the message they communicate is about a serious crisis in the relationship between the executive and the judiciary. The criminals take advantage of this public perception for their own benefit and it is the ordinary people who suffer.

Such irresponsible actions on the part of the executive endanger the security of the society at large. When the executive, for their petty ends, engage in public attacks on the judiciary it is the government itself that is weakened. When people perceive that the judges themselves are helpless when the spokesman for the executive is attacking the judiciary it is the criminals that have the last laugh.

It is time for the public to get their message across to the executive clearly that they do not wish their judiciary to be attacked and weakened. If the people watch passively when the executive, for their own petty ends, attack the judiciary the cost of their silence will have to be paid by the people themselves and the future generations. It is time for the people to talk loudly and tell the executive to stop such nonsense.

For further information please see: WORLD: Who will respond to the distress call of the Judicial Service Commission of Sri Lanka? and SRI LANKA: Not free from fault, but too vain to mend

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-214-2012
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Impunity, Judicial system, Right to life, Rule of law, Torture,