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‘Corruption has many faces, bribery only one of them – AG

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The courts had quite justly come to be regarded as the sentinel over the powers of the legislature and the executive in Sri Lanka in order to safeguard the rights of the citizen under the law and the Constitution, Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC has said on March 23 at the ceremonial sitting of the Court of Appeal

“The credibility of a judicial system in a country is dependent on the Judges who man it. Judges must be persons of impeccable integrity and unimpeachable independence. A Judge must discharge his judicial functions with high integrity, impartially and intellectual honesty. Speaking of Intellectual honesty; I have said this earlier that the law would be like a ball of clay in the hands of an erudite Judge. Therefore, Judges should be ruthlessly honest, independent, and impartial and possess a judicial conscience to ensure that the ball of clay is moulded according to law”, the AG declared, adding: “It is said that public institutions should command public confidence – so is the Judiciary of a country.”

The ceremonial sitting was held to welcome, His Lordship Justice Arjuna Obeysekere as the President of the Court of Appeal, Her Ladyship Justice Menaka Wijesundera, their Lordships Justice Nihal Samarakoon, Justice Prasantha de Silva, Justice Mohamed Laffar, Justice Pradeep Kirtisinghe, Justice Sampath Abayakoon and Justice Sampath Wijeratne as Judges of the Court of Appeal.

The AG said: “The backlog of cases in this Court is alarming. It has to be addressed urgently and quickly, methodically and efficiently and to deliver speedy justice and prevent Laws delays without compromising the quality of justice thereby, winning the confidence of the people.

This issue has to be addressed by Lordship’s Court holistically. The Bench and the Bar have to get together to solve this problem. The increase in the number of Judges to the Superior Courts by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and thereby the appointment of Your Lordships and Ladyship is no doubt seen as a very positive step in this regard.

For over 2000 years of the Island’s long history, the Courts of Law have occupied a unique place in the system of government. Public acceptance of the judiciary and public confidence in the judiciary is necessary for the rule of law to prevail in the country. Public confidence in the judiciary is dependent on the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Public confidence in the judiciary cannot be built unless Judges display a high level of integrity, impartiality and independence in their judgments, pronouncements and orders and through their conduct.

The Honourable Diego Garcia-Sayán who acts as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers who was a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and was elected Vice-President of the Court from 2008 to 2009 and President of the Court for two consecutive terms and who previously served as Peru’s Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs, recently shared his views on judicial corruption and judicial independence with UNODC as part of the Organization’s on-going work on promoting judicial integrity.

He opined “that by seeking impunity, corruption has a devastating effect on the judicial system as a whole. One of the goals of human rights is to fight corruption and its implications on the administration of justice, as is to act against corruption through an independent and strong administration of justice”. For this, the United Nations Convention against Corruption is a fundamental instrument for the protection of human rights.

“Corruption has many faces, bribery being only one of them, another being political corruption, much more unattainable and imprecise. Its broad range of action enables it not only to influence the Judicial system but all sectors of State Administration as well”.

Corruption undermines the core of the administration of justice, generating a substantial obstacle to the right to an impartial trial, and severely undermining the population’s trust in the judiciary.

Article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption – a fundamental international treaty – emphasizes the decisive role of the judicial branch in the fight against corruption, and establishes that in order to carry out this role effectively, the judicial branch itself must be free of corruption, and that its members must act with integrity. Substantive guidelines on matters of internal organization, which are fundamental to prevent and confront corruption, have been included in the Convention.

In 2016, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime launched a global programme to promote a culture of lawfulness. It includes the creation of a Global Judicial Integrity Network to share best practices and lessons learned on the fundamental challenges and new questions relating to judicial integrity and the prevention of corruption.

The sovereignty is in the people and is alienable and that sovereignty of the people is exercised by the judiciary in the public trust. The independence and the integrity of the judiciary ought to be preserved for justice and the rule of law to prevail in a society. A judiciary should not only be independent but appear to be independent in order to gain the confidence of the people.

An independent judiciary is the corner of stone of the prevalence of the rule of law in a democratic society.

Judicial independence requires not just independence in the constitutional sense, that is, the separation of powers between the three branches of government (executive, legislature and judiciary), but also the personal independence of judges so that they are free to decide cases based on the application of the rule of law. The essence of rule of law has been said to be that the Administration is bound by the law and that in it cannot interfere with the rights of the individual except in accordance with the law.

The International Congress of Jurists meeting in New Delhi in January 1959 concluded “that an independent judiciary is an indispensable requisite for a free society and for the Rule of Law to prevail in a society.

The independence and impartially of the judiciary is essential for a democratic system of government to function under the Rule of Law.

The maintenance of the independence of Judges and of the quality of the administration of justice would largely depend on the Judges themselves and the state of public opinion of the country, which demands their independence and impartially.

Within the limits of their power and jurisdiction the courts are required to perform a dynamic role, as the fearless upholders of the principle of equal justice under the rule of law.

The Courts must necessarily occupy a high position of power, privilege and independence in the life of a nation.

The Judges in the exercise of judicial functions should be immune from outside control and influence and intimidation.

That independence is also necessary from the other branches of government and from private and partisan interest. Judges cannot use the judicial platform to satisfy 3rd party and personal interest and have agendas and should at all times avoid possible conflicts of interest.

United States Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said on his elevation in 2006;

“Good Judges don’t have agendas. They don’t look for partisan outcomes and always do what the law requires and demands. A Judge cannot have any agendas and a Judge cannot have a preferred outcome in a particular case”.

Judges should be above suspicion and should not leave even a glimpse for that suspicion to occur.

The people will be judging you while you judge them. Therefore, that accountability and transparency ought to be seen and perceived from the judgments, pronouncements and orders that are delivered by the Courts.



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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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