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Ministry of Justice, EU, UNDP and UNICEF join hands to improve justice for all in Sri Lanka

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Minister Sabry with EU, UNDP and UNICEF representatives

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Sri Lanka have come together to launch the Justice Reform (JURE) Programme. This new initiative, funded by the EU to the tune of EUR 18 million (approx. LKR 4 billion) and the UN for EUR 1 million (approx. LKR 225 million), will be implemented during four and a half years in close partnership with all relevant actors from the justice sector.

The Programme contains a holistic package of support to strengthen inclusive access to justice, improve transparency and accountability in the sector as well as enhance quality and efficient services delivery. It will build on the ambitious justice reform agenda of the Ministry of Justice. Close attention will be paid in particular to foster access to justice for women and children, to support alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with commercial matters and to maximize the potential of digital technologies to improve efficiency.

Speaking at the Justice Reform (JURE) Programme launch yesterday morning, Minister of Justice, M.U.M. Ali Sabry P.C. stated: “An efficient, inclusive and independent justice system is a core requirement for the Sri Lankan republic to move forward. We need to strengthen the administration of justice in Sri Lanka to uphold the rule of law whilst ensuring an independent judiciary. This task would be difficult to achieve without a modern mechanism and support from development partners. This programme will certainly pave the way, and I am happy that the European Union, UNDP and UNICEF are partnering with us in achieving this goal”.

Commenting on the EU engagement in the sector, Ambassador to the European Union in Sri Lanka, H.E. Denis Chaibi stated: “A modern, efficient and inclusive justice sector is critical for social cohesion and to strengthen trust between the State and its citizens. The European Union’s funding is significant and shows how crucial it considers its partnership with Sri Lanka, UNDP and UNICEF to support home-grown reforms and institutions. To enhance access to justice for all will increase the quality and efficiency of justice service delivery”.

Speaking on UNDP’s longstanding support to the justice sector in Sri Lanka as a trusted partner, Resident Representative for UNDP in Sri Lanka, Robert Juhkam stated, “The JURE Programme is designed to be catalytic to improving access to justice, putting people with needs and capabilities at the centre of policies, institutions and programmes. Crucially, UNDP will ensure that JURE provides a platform for bringing together stakeholders across the board, including sectoral state institutions, independent commissions, professional bodies, academic institutions, and civil society into supporting a national effort, without which reform progress would be fragmented. The platform will facilitate consultation, consensus and innovation in judicial reform which is consonant with international standards and best practice, thus strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts in achieving the SDG-16 targets on peace, justice and strong institutions.”

The Justice Reform (JURE) Programme will contribute to building a modern, efficient and inclusive justice sector in Sri Lanka through innovative reforms, digital transformation and strengthened institutions, paving the way towards enhanced social cohesion and a more peaceful and just Sri Lankan society.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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