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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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Govt. urged to increase nursing cadre to tackle national health crisis

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Coordinator, Training (Nursing) Pushpa Ramyani de Soysa says that against the backdrop of alarming increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases, the government needs to act swiftly and decisively to strengthen the nursing staff or face the consequences.

The top nurse insists a moment cannot be wasted as the ongoing epidemic threatens to overwhelm the entire country. The nurses’ spokesperson attached to the Accident Ward of the National Hospital, Colombo, delivered the dire warning in a live interview with Dasun Wasantha on the state-run ITN yesterday (14)

The outspoken official said that at the time Covid-19 erupted in 2020, the nursing staff consisted of approximately 38,000 representing all grades. At that time, the country experienced a staggering 50 per cent dearth of trained nursing staff, de Soysa said, urging those responsible as well as the public of the urgent need to strengthen the nursing staff.

She explained how the nursing staff worked under unbearable pressure as the entire medical staff backed by the military and the police struggled to cope up with the relentless Covid-19 onslaught.

Responding to the interviewer on live ‘Hathweni Paya’ , de Soysa said that as an immediate interim measure, those who had retired in the past few years could be brought back to lessen the pressure on the staff. When The Island sought further clarification from the National

Coordinator, the nursing veteran emphasized the Covid-19 challenge had to be tackled, in addition to the regular workload. A further deterioration of the situation could cause a catastrophe, she told The Island.

The National Coordinator told the ITN as nurses couldn’t be trained overnight the way required beds and other equipment could be supplied to hospitals, hence the urgent need to bring back the retired without further delay. She repeatedly stressed the responsibility on the part of the administration whoever in power to increase the nursing staff to meet the country’s growing requirement. Acknowledging the services rendered by the health services at an extremely difficult period, nurse de Soysa underscored the critical role played by the nursing staff in the overall effort against the epidemic.

Soysa highlighted what she called a coordinating role played by the nursing staff in the treatment of persons afflicted by Covid-19 or some other illness. In the absence of sufficient number of nurses, personnel had been re-allocated, de Soysa said, pointing out that due to Covid-19 explosion patients were being accommodated at hospitals.

Commenting on challenges faced by the nursing profession, de Soysa recalled the sacrifices made during the 30-year-war that was brought to a successful conclusion in May 2009. “Regardless of d immense difficulties, the nursing staff fulfilled their responsibilities during the conflict. We’ll do the same now,” de Soysa said, pointing out as many as 270 nurses had been tested Covid-19 positive, in addition to thousands quarantined.

The National Coordinator complained about the dearth of some critically important data relevant to the Covid-19 situation needed for evaluation purposes. Timely decisions couldn’t be taken for want of updated data at global and local level, she said.

She also discussed difficulties caused by some of those seeking treatment at hospitals not being aware of their condition, hence the need to be vigilant. However, sometimes, nursing staff served without taking into consideration the grave risks them faced. A grave looking de Soysa told the ITN interviewer they couldn’t follow health guidelines. “We cannot keep one meter distance in hospitals,” de Soysa said.

Nurse de Soysa said that she received both doses of covishields vaccine as key part of overall measures in place for the protection of the medical staff.

Without referring to any political party, de Soysa explained how the political administration over the years treated the nursing staff as slaves. Government treated nursing staff as dirt, de Soysa said, recalling with gratitude how Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda thera spearheaded a campaign that paved the way for significant improvement in the nursing service. The National Coordinator said that before the Ven. Thera’s intervention, they were assigned intolerable tasks regardless of their complains.

Responding to another ITN query, de Soysa said that successive governments hadn’t responded to their call for enhancement of the nursing service with the introduction of a system to produce qualified nurses who specializes in selected fields. Although action had been taken , the entire process was proceeding at snail pace, she alleged.

The National Instructor made reference to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s 2019 presidential election manifesto that also dealt with the issue at hand. The top nurse didn’t mince her words when she pointed out that the required improvements weren’t introduced as expected, hence the need to move now.

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Coronavirus spreading fast in North

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

COVID-19 is spreading across a number of areas in the Northern province at a rapid pace, according to THE provincial health officials.

Five members of the same family in Kattakadu, Kilinochchi have contracted COVID-19 and been sent to Krishnapuram Treatment centre.

One family member is a university student, who stayed in Colombo. He returned home recently and several family members started developing Covid-19 symptoms a few days later. Health officials conducted PCR tests and found that all five family members had contracted the virus. Six other neighbouring families have been placed under quarantine.

Meanwhile, 43-year-old man was arrested by Kilinochchi Police for hoarding alcohol to be sold, at a higher price, during the current lockdown. The suspect is a resident of Kalmadukulam, Dharmapuram. He is to be produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate’s Court.

However, most towns in the North had been deserted yesterday due to the lockdown.

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Navy nets 30 illegal migrants

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More than 30 persons were apprehended by the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard in Samindugama on Thursday and Friday while they were preparing to migrate to a foreign country by boat illegally.

The owner of the house where the suspects had stayed was also arrested, together with15 others involved in human smuggling.

The suspects, residents of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Puttalam areas, were handed over to the Chilaw Police.

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