Sri Lanka is being discredited and vilified in Geneva in view of a resolution USA is supposed to move against Sri Lanka at the UNHRCouncil for reasons, other than your blind defence of an Impeached Chief Justice.
The persons at the helm of the Sri Lanka bashing are mostly persons who have no first hand knowledge of ground reality during the Sri Lanka’s war against terrorists. They act on third party information from the expatriate Tamil Terrorist Front Organisations. Is it worth for a leading QC to get involved with supporters of terrorists and tarnish his image, even if he had been well paid for his intervention ?
You have been roped in by the Human Rights activists for your credentials as a Human Rights lawyer. The Human Rights watch and Amnesty International and rest of the horn blowers against Sri Lanka are sponsored by the expatriate Tamil Terrorist Front Organisations in the West.
It is a pity you jumped into the fray without ascertaining basic facts about Sri Lanka atleast from those who visited Sri Lanka to see for themselves what had taken place, such as the Australian Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison and opposition justice, customs and border protection spokesman Michael Keenan.
A prominent lawyer should not jump to conclusions on hearsay evidence. The government of Sri Lanka cannot be accused of undermining the rule of law without even having heard what the government has to say. It does not speak well for you Queens Counsel Geoffrey Robertson.
The information you had been fed with is utterly false. It was reported that you were saying, “ “fabricated charges” against Ms Bandaranayake were heard by government ministers in a secret star chamber with witnesses bullied and browbeaten.”
All that is nonsense , there was no “ secret star chamber” . The Impeachment was heard in the Parliament by a Parliamentary Select Committee. The witnesses were Judges and lawyers and they were not at all bullied. It is ridiculous to have made such statements by a lawyer of your standing who had been duped by people unaware of what had really taken place.
You have made damning statements against Sri Lanka which had acted in terms of the law and followed a well defined democratic process.
I am a Barrister at Law, qualified in Constitutional Law, I can therefore speak on what had actually happened. It is surprising to hear you make all those charges, on an incomplete brief provided to you by a group of people intent to discredit and accuse the Government of Sri Lanka which eliminated a ruthless group of terrorists that terrorised the country for thirty years massacring men, women and children, using human suicide bombs to kill a President of Sri Lanka, a well known Foreign
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar , many Ministers, Officers of the Security forces and even a Prime Minister of India.
You may perhaps be influenced by the Prime Minster of Canada Stephen Harper who also wants the Commonwealth Leaders to boycott the meeting in Sri Lanka. In case of Stephen Harper , he being a politician his “foolish” statement could be understood as Canada has a large number of expatriate Tamils and is a coveted vote bank.
Harper himself is also guilty of violation of the Human rights of the aborigine Canadians who are still kept in reservations without abrogating a racist Indian Act of 1876 despite their demand.
But similar sentiments coming from you cannot be understood as you are not a politician but a “prominent” lawyer and a QC .
I will explain to you the case of the Impeached Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaya on which you have precipitated into action making statements not in keeping with your status. They only tarnish as I said before, your good image of a “prominent lawyer”.
This explanation from a confrere I am sure you can accept as the truth, unlike the hearsay evidence with which you had been briefed on the issue. Even the Colombo Telegraph which carried your Statement on the 23 February, 2013, is a web-journal strongly against the Sri Lanka Government, and well known to publish articles without verifying their contents as long as they are against the Sri Lanka Government.
A Chief Justice cannot be brought before a court accused of criminal charges. Sri Lanka is not what is called a “banana State” with half educated people in prominent places. Sri Lanka is a country with a 95 % literacy. We have very highly educated people and respected professionals of world Standard. Our lawyers are well qualified and one of them was for a long period of time a Vice President of the International Court of Justice in Hague. He is now a resident of Australia.
Therefore, you should not speak rashly of a people and a country as you have done. Now let us take the case of the Impeachment of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
An Impeachment Motion signed by 117 members of the Parliament of Sri Lanka was handed over to the Speaker of the Parliament. It contained 14 charges against her. The speaker appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee of 11 members in terms of the Parliamentary Standing Orders, to inquire into the charges.
The Chief Justice with her lawyers appeared before the PSC. At the last hearing the CJ Shirani Bandaranayake walked away from the PSC with her lawyers, refusing to defend herself. The PSC found her guilty of the first three charges, and therefore did not proceed further with the rest of the charges and submitted its report to the Speaker of the House.
The Speaker on the receipt of the report of the PSC on the Impeachment Motion, kept it for the required cooling off period of one month. Thereafter the report was debated in the Parliament for two days. It was passed by a majority of 155 voting for, and 49 against it. Thereafter the report was addressed to the President who accepted it. And she was removed from the office of Chief Justice. The former Attorney General has since been appointed as the Chief Justice.
As you know an Impeachment is a democratic constitutional process. It is political and not legal. In fact the Parliament could have either consulted the Supreme court OR appoint a Parliamentary Standing Committee to inquire into the charges against the Chief Justice in the Impeachment motion. The Parliament followed the latter procedure which was constitutionally quite in order.
The Parliament strictly followed the Article 107 (3) of the Constitution for an Impeachment of a Chief Justice.
The relevant article 107 of the Constitution reads:
Appointment and removal of Judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
107. (1) The Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal and every other Judge, of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal shall be appointed by the President of the Republic by warrant under his hand.
(2) Every such Judge shall hold office during good behaviour, and shall not be removed except by an order of the President made after an address of Parliament supported by a majority of the total number of Members of Parliament (including those not present) has been presented to the President for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity :
Provided that no resolution for the presentation of such an address shall be entertained by the Speaker or placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless notice of such resolution is signed by not less than one-third of the total number of Members of Parliament and sets out full particulars of the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity.
(3) Parliament shall by law or by Standing Orders provide for all matters relating to the presentation of such an address, including the procedure for the passing of a such resolution, the investigation and proof of the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity and the right of such Judge to appear and to be heard in person or by representative.Now you have the complete picture which if you knew you would not have said as it was reported , “the Sri Lankan government’s treatment of the judge “undermines the rule of law to such an extent that the country which suffers it will suffer the loss of that independent power which is essential to make democracy work”.
The Impeachment motion had been proceeded according to the Constitution and nobody least of all an eminent QC like you could have, being honest to yourself, pointed your finger and accuse the Government of Sri Lanka and say:
“Governments which respect the rule of law should not attend, Nor should the Queen or any royal family member provide a photo-opportunity for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. “Royal seals of approval serve the propaganda interests of people like this and no-shows by powerful nations would signal the unacceptability of their behaviour.”
Sri Lanka is not the only country that had Impeached a Chief Justice, and there are instances of Impeachments in the House of Parliament in UK, and in USA. It is worth quoting an incident in the Impeachment procedure of Renato Corona the Chief Justice of Philippine:
“At one point,Chief Justice Corona of Philipines tried walk out of the proceedings, and was prevented from doing so by the Senate president, who ordered the Senate doors closed and gave him a tongue-lashing. He rolled back in a wheelchair, with an attendant at his side. One of his lawyers said he was suffering from dizziness and could not continue. The judge adjourned the proceedings, ordering Corona to return to court next Wednesday.”
If you are honourable, of which I have not the least doubt QC Geoffrey Robertson, you should write back to England’s Bar Human Rights Committee, withdrawing your hasty accusation going on hearsay evidence and say that you do not see any reason why the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting should not be held in Sri Lanka as scheduled.
ANSWERING A CRITIC OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE
Douglas : Any one has the right to express his opinion. Your comments had been to take the sting off articles, to mollify the effect to give credibility to your arguments.
I have followed your comments on my articles on Impeachment. One of such comments ends:
“That is what brought the whole Legislature, the country and it’s system of Governance to disrepute and “mockery”. Please think of it, independently without bias, and it will most probably dawn on you how and why this Impeachment became a “furore”.
Your comment to QC Geofrey Robertson’s article which was published in Colombo Telegraph on 28 February, 2013 is as follows:
“Never mind the “Constitutional empowerments” to impeach the CJ; but the very process of the “concocted inquiry” was a mockery of the highest order. The most “irresponsible and digrading behaviour” of those seven stoogs must be condemned world over in the name of Law and Order and Rule of Law. In that context, it is nothing but right to teach a well meaning lesson to the authorities in Sri Lanka at least by the Commonwealth Nations.”
(the word you used is Not “ Notwithstanding” but” Nevermind”)
Your constructive dialogue is not second to those of Sumanthiran, Mangala Samaraweera, or that of Ranil Wickramasinghe who now even invites Shariah Law within UNP.
Sri Lanka under the President Mahinda Rajapakse has done a commendable job. He may not have done every thing perfectly well. But who has ? And which other political leader is there to follow up ? Who has done as much as he has done before him ?
The Impeachment Motion against the CJ Shirani Bandaranaike was done in perfect legality according to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. If there is any one to find fault with it, then it is some one who does not understand the fundamentals of Democracy, and has personal interest in the Impeached or discrediting the government.. The President Rajapakse and his government has up to now exercised Democratic Administration. He was not a Dictator or he did not even use his Executive powers to the detriment of the people and the country.
You should if you are a real patriot, who doe not consider “Sri Lanka is a stinking rotten Jak fruit”, be more constructive in the real meaning of the word, and accept that the government had always acted democratically . Truth will come out and it is already happening. In UNHRC in Geneva, Sri Lanka has still not been directly condemned for violation of Human Rights, except by Pillay and the Diaspora Tamils with UK Channel 4. Even Ban Ki Moon praised Sri Lanka for its positive actions.
Douglas, I do not write to please you. Your critical comments do not even touch me. I am not hurt but I am sad that we have amoung us our own people to belittle what ever good our people are capable of doing