Saturday, December 8, 2012

Impeaching a chief justice – how serious can it be?

By Thrishantha Nanayakkara

The word impeachment sounds very legal. Maybe that is why a lot of normal voters stay away from legal heavy weight fighting during a high level impeachment of a chief justice of a country. However, the ongoing attempt of the Sri Lankan Government to impeach Sri Lanka’s first woman chief justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake has caught public attention like never before.

What sparked the impeachment movement? The move began after the Supreme Court held that the Government “Divi Neguma” bill that proposed to give sweeping powers to the president’s brother, minister Basil Rajapakse, unconstitutional on 6th November 2012.  The hurriedly drafted impeachment motion against the Chief Justice quickly received the required number of signatures mostly from junior parliamentarians and those who had crossed over from the opposition sparing the family members of president Mahinda Rajapakse in the parliament from the burden of signing the motion.

Full of mistakes: soon the parliament and the public came to know that the impeachment motion was full of factual errors. Later the law firm hired by the chief justice in her defence gave a rebuttal on the most four serious charges making it clear that the charges were hastily made up with malicious intent. The humiliated lawmakers then appointed a parliamentary select committee to study the impeachment motion. Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake was given just one week to respond to the motion by appearing in front of the committee. Her request to hold an open inquiry was refused on the grounds that an open inquiry would undermine the sovereignty of the parliament, which was again a gross violation of the constitution. According to the Sri Lankan constitution, people are the custodians of sovereignty, not the parliament. Therefore, an open hearing would in fact protect the sovereignty of the people. Furthermore, two Government MPs had verbally abused her with foul language before the Chief Justice finally decided to walk out in despair.

Why is this move dangerous? This is dangerous because the Government motive to impeach the Chief Justice is to give a clear message to the Judiciary – “bow down to our way of Governance no matter how unconstitutional and corrupt it is, or prepare to go home!” This together with the flaws of the 18th amendment to the constitution blow a massive punch on the face of the independence of the judiciary to insulate the rights of the people from greedy politicians in the Government. This is particularly precarious when president Rajapakse’s family runs a large part of the critical mass of the Government. 

What can you do? You do not want a corrupt dictatorship in South Asia don't you? If you think that one Suharto dynasty was enough for that whole region, please take action. There are several ways to do it. Rajapakse Government is not scared of the people living in Sri Lanka. With total abuse of state media, and blockade of many independent online media, they know how to manipulate people’s paranoia to stay popular.  People living outside have more access to free media and Internet based tools such as petitions to attract attention of people who respect rule of law, natural justice, and democracy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Next War in Sri Lanka: Law, Order, Justice and Law Enforcement

By Sanjeewa Karunaratne

Law, order, justice and law enforcement are pillars of a strong society. If they break, the fabric of the society shatters, resulting immense sufferings to its members. Recently, two incidents took place in two different countries across the globe—one is trying to be a developed nation; one is already a developed nation. These two incidents showcase how this basic norm of the society operates in these two countries.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Australian MP, Don Randall's Speech about Sri Lanka

Mr RANDALL (Canning) (12.02 pm)—I am pleased to speak on this motion on humanitarian issues during the war in Sri Lanka. At the outset, I congratulate the member for Werriwa on bringing this motion to the parliament and for the measured way that he addressed it. I have always had high regard for the member for Werriwa’s interest in human rights issues and migration issues. On this occasion he is quite passionate about his views as the issue stands now.

H. L. D. Mahindapala's Letter to Australian MP, Laurie Ferguson

Sent: 04 March 2011 17:14
To: ''
Subject: Greetings!

Dear Laurie,

Thank you for the time you spent with us listening and arguing which was very helpful for us to gauge the opinion of a Labour MP most concerned with Sri Lankan affairs.

As I told you I was pleased to learn from you that there has been a 75% improvement in the Sri Lankan situation since the end of the futile war on May 18, 2009. I believe (and I told this to you too) our task is to improve the balance 25%. You will no doubt agree that 75% improvement within the short span (from May 18, 2009 to March 4, 2011) is a remarkable achievement by any standards. If we are genuinely concerned about improving the welfare of all communities our actions should be directed at healing and not exacerbating by scratching old wounds.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

US Fox News Hails Sri Lanka

US Fox News story about Sri Lanka: 1. Best global market 2. # 1 tourist destination, NY Times 3. # 2 Tourist destination, National Geographic 4. Only country to defeat terrorism and much more...

LTTE threat to disrupt Havard discussion on Lanka turns into damp squib

Tha Nation

An LTTE threat to disrupt a panel discussion on Sri Lanka at the Kennedy School, Harvard on Tuesday if it was attended by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr Palitha Kohana ended up being a bluff due to effective counter action taken by the organizers and the Lankan envoy accepting the challenge and attending the event.

Sources said the planned disruption was led by a former Sri Lankan Tamil journalist who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail for terrorist related activities here in September 2009, but was pardoned by President Rajapaksa in May last year and has since been living in America. Now a Neiman Fellow at the Harvard Journalism School, he had tried to arrange a boycott, failing that, had threatened to stage a “hartal”.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York's Asia Society Reverberates to the Rhythms of Kandyan Drums

By Pushpi Weerakoon

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations hosted a well attended Concert and Reception at the prestigious Asia Society for the diplomatic community, senior UN personnel and members of the business and social elite of New York to mark the 63rd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Over 120 Permanent Missions were represented at the event. The guests were treated to a memorable evening of classical music, jazz and traditional Sri Lankan dance by Sri Lanka’s own artistes. Maestro Rohan de Silva was at the piano with Ms. Sujeeva Hapugalle, Paul Metzke enthralled the audience with the guitar and Ms. Yolande Bavan, the perennial jazz favorite, kept their toes tapping. The Chitrasena dance group enraptured the audience with throbbing Kandyan drums and Kohomba Kankari for the first time.

New York Sri Lankan expatriates celebrate the National Independence Day

By Pushpi Weerakoon

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations hosted a Concert and Reception at the Forest Hills High school New York to mark the 63rd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Over 1200 Sri Lankan expatriates and well wishers were present at the event, the largest gathering in the history of Independence celebrations in New York. The guests were treated to a memorable evening by the renowned Chithrasena Vajira dance ensemble, in addition to the music and drama performed by the Sri Lankan community, representing all five boroughs in New York, the state of New Jersey and Boston.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Floods in Sri Lanka: Hope in Disguise?

January 22, Sri Lanka Guardia
By Sri Lankans for Peace

Even though more than forty-three people have perished, more than one million have been affected, about a fifth of the rice cultivation has been destroyed, the recent floods in Sri Lanka have presented the country with an opportunity for unity, friendship and reconciliation at a time of sorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

UN’s effort to preserve the Rights of the Child

By Pushpi Weerakoon

On a global basis almost 11 million children die annually because of child poverty. Over the last ten years, two million children have been killed in conflict, a million have been orphaned, over six million have been seriously injured or permanently disabled, and over ten million have been left with serious psychological trauma. Despite international legislation, child trafficking, prostitution, and abuse are still widespread. 75 million children of primary school age in South Asia alone go without education. And an estimated 158 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 – one in six children in the world – are forced into child labour.