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Implementing PCOI recommendations will be detrimental to judicial independence — Lawyers’ Forum for the People

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by Saman Indrajith

The implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into political victimization (PCOI) would have a huge effect on the independence of the judiciary and its function in search of justice, says the Lawyers’ Forum for the People.

“This is a real danger to democracy and the country’s democratic institutions and processes”, Co-Convener of the Forum, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera told a news conference at the Dr. NM Perera Center last week.

“The recommendations, if implemented, will inflict irrevocable damage on the judiciary and impact adversely on democracy. Politicians can come and go. They appoint commissions as a means to their political ends, but the judiciary is not so. The Judiciary is not there to serve the politicians to achieve their political goals but to serve all people alike”, he noted.

The present government recognized the PCoI and thereby what had been done during the former regime as political victimization. Who can give a guarantee that the next government would not do the same? And what would be the end of this if these recommendations are implemented,” Perera queried.

He said that there are reports that the PCoI had identified the anti-corruption committee of the former government as ‘an illegal outfit’ and recommended legal action against its members.

“Legal action has been recommended against a list of politicians including JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, TNA leader R. Sampanthan, MA Sumanthiran, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka etc. Why is the PCoI silent about former President Maithripala Sirisena who chaired the anti-corruption committee? Doesn’t this point to a targeted witch hunt?” Perera asked.

Attorney-at-Law Namal Rajapakshe said that implementing the recommendations of the PCoI would place Sri Lanka on par with Myanmar. The government has no regard to the rule of law. It is making use of the law for its political witch hunt. People should protest against this injustice, he said while urging the government not to implement the recommendations of the PCoI in the name of democracy,” he said.

Attorney-at-Law Achala Seneviratne said that the government has appointed another committee to give legitimacy to the PCoI’s plans to suppress the voices of the opposition. The PCoI’s parameters of identifying victims need to be clarified because the PCoI has recommended tough legal action against respondents in the complaints – including police officers, former commanders of the military, MPs, former ministers and deputy ministers and prosecutors attached to the Attorney General’s Department.

Attorney-at-Law Tambiah Jeyaratnaraja said that the recommendations of the PCoI amounted to contempt of court. “The recommendations exert undue influence on the judiciary. The PCoI recommends putting an end to hearing 79 cases pending before courts. What mandate does a PCoI have to make such recommendations?” he asked.

Attorney-at-Law Chula Adikari said that the PCoI has also recommended compensation for complainants facing trial for murder, kidnapping and extortion in High Courts, that includes, inter alia, back pay, promotions, foreign workshops and popular school or university enrollment for their children.

“One of the cases recommended to be dropped is against Yoshitha Rajapaksa investigating how he raised funds to start CSN TV channel. The other one is the Mig deal involving Udayanga Weeratunga. Then there is another case in the list against Thiru Nadesan who is the husband of Nirupama Rajapaksa. Another case recommended to be dropped is against Jaliya Wickramasuriya, brother of the Prime Minister’s wife. All these 79 cases have a common factor- they are against members of a single family and its friends and relatives. Those cases are against misappropriating of trillions of public funds,” he alleged.

“Who is a political victim? We have clear examples, Lasantha Wickramatunga, Keith Noyahr, Upali Tennakoon, Eknaligoda and other journalists whose limbs had been broken. They were political victims. Now according to the PCoI there is a list of political victims who had been charged of extortion, killing, abduction, assaulting journalists, defrauding public funds etc,” Adikari said.

Attorneys-at-Law Upali Ratnayake and Manju Sri Chandrasena also addressed the press.



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Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk

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“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo

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Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament

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School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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