Sri Lanka: Independence of Judiciary Questioned


Urgent Appeal Case: UA980608
ISSUES: Judicial system,

Sri Lanka was once known to have a very independent judiciary. It is well known that the former government (1977 – 1994) which ruled for over 17 years did a great deal to undermine the position of the judiciary. Many persons are worried about the situation that developed as a result of the neglect of those years. Sri Lanka is today known as one of the countries which has over 20,000 cases of unresolved disappearances and many other forms of serious violations of civil rights in these circumstances only the last resort the people have is the judiciary. Any deterioration of standards will have much adverse effect on the morale of the people. The reported incident needs to be investigated throughly. If the report is true, serious action need to be taken against the culprits. The newspaper has not revealed the names of the persons concerned. Our interest is on the basis that the allegations are against three members of the judiciary and such allegations are matters of paramount importance.

Following is the front-page lead article of Sunday Observer on 7th June 1998. The Sunday Observer is the best-circulated Sunday paper in Sri Lanka.

Sunday Observer – 07 June 1998: Accused UNP politico at dinner with HC Judge

A high ranking UNP [United National Party] politician against whom a case is pending in the High Court is reported to have met the High Court Judge hearing the case over dinner at the Blue Oceanic Hotel in Negombo recently.

The meeting is said to have been arranged by a Magistrate who has plans to contest the forthcoming Provincial Council elections on the UNP ticket.

Another High Court Judge who is also said to be a good friend of the Magistrate made the trio at the dinner session.

The Magistrate concerned has already made the arrangements to contest the elections and also said to be having close connections with the underworld.

According to judicial sources, the meeting over the dinner and the newly cultivated friendship between the UNP politician and the High Court Judge, may have a significant impact on the judgement in the case which is now pending.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: The AHRC urge that letters and faxes expressing views on the independence of judiciary to be send to the President and Chief Justice of Sri Lanka calling for an investigation.

Send Appeals to:

Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga Presidential Residence Colombo 3 Sri Lanka Fax: 94 – 1 – 333 – 703

G. P. S de Silva Honourable Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Office of the Chief Justice The Supreme Court Complex Colombo

Sample Letter – Please do not copy

The allegation against three members of judiciary are made by the Sunday Observer on 7 June 1998.

The allegations made in the Sunday Observer lead article under the title \"Accused UNP politico at dinner with HC Judge,\" is very disturbing. Sri Lanka has usually been known as country, which respects the independence of judiciary. A judiciary, which maintains high standards, is very essential for democracy. This is more so in Sri Lanka due to very difficult times it is facing. We write this to urge you to take suitable measures to thoroughly investigate into the alleged incident and to take strong action if the allegations are proved to be true.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA980608
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Judicial system,