Campaign against some lawyers:Rule of law,
people’s right to justice threatened – Chief Opp. Whip

Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera said that the rule of law and the people’s right to justice before a Court of law are at threat as there was a campaign against some lawyers commenced by the Defence Ministry.

Making a special statement in Parliament he said that the lawyers have a right to appear for any party in Courts. The legal fraternity is doing a service to the nation by involving in the noble task of delivering justice. That lawyers are officers of Court, and that any attack on officers of Court relating to their official duties inside court or outside is contempt of Court, is well established law. It is the right to of any person having a dispute before Court to be represented by legal representatives of his or her choice.

All parties before Courts are equals and entitled to equal protection before law as stated in the Constitution.

The right of persons to practice a profession of their choice is guaranteed in the Constitution. This publication also amounts to a threat levelled against the rights of these lawyers to practice their profession within the framework of law.

The official website of the Defence Ministry, www.defence.lk had labelled four attorneys appearing to defend Leader Publications (Pvt) which was charged with allegedly publishing a libellous article involving Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, as traitors. The lawyers namely Srinath Perera, Upul Jayasuriya, S. Sumanthiran, Viran Corea, and Athula Ranagala, had been described as traitors in black coats, MP Perera said.

He said that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka has unanimously condemned a news item on the Defence Ministry’s official website that describes three lawyers as traitors of the nation, and the Editors’ Guild too had condemned this threat against the legal fraternity.

Before this trend becomes dangerous precedent corrective action must be taken, because it is not only a threat against the rule of law but an indirect intimidation against the Courts, he said.

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