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.
Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?
By Ifham Nizam
Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.
Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).
Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.
Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.
UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military
By Shamindra Ferdinnado
Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”
The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.
The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.
The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.
Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.
UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.
Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.
Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss
Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.
Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.
JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province
Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days
By Rathindra Kuruwita
The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.
The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.
The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.
President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.
The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.
“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.
President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.
“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”
Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?
UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military
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