GL, GR woo professionals, business community

Move to usurp judicial powers frowned on


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Saturday (July 9) urged professionals and the business community to make themselves aware of the post-January, 2015 presidential polls situation.

They stressed the pivotal importance of professionals and the business community play an active role in influencing the decision making process. The appeal was made at an event organized by Viyathmaga at the Light House Hotel, Galle.

Former Defence Secretary Rajapaksa, separately addressed a group of Muslims at another venue to explain the situation with special emphasis on the need to guard against unscrupulous elements propagating lies.

The war veteran alleged that propaganda campaigns had been skilfully orchestrated to spread lies, therefore they should be cautious.

The former Defence Secretary responded to a series of questions raised by both audiences.

Recalling massacres of Muslims eviction of the entire community from the Northern Province in late Oct, 1990, Prof. Peiris pointed out that the Muslim community had greatly benefited due to the eradication of terrorism by the previous government. The gathering was told of the work carried out by the previous government in the Eastern Province and other developments since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009. They were also briefed of continuous support extended by the Arab world at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the previous administration as it battled Western powers seeking to intervene in Sri Lanka.

Prof. Peiris said that the Iraq Inquiry Report aka Chilcot report had exposed those who had committed massive atrocities in Iraq on the basis of cooked up intelligence reports regarding non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The same people had been demanding war crimes probe targeting Sri Lanka and putting pressure on the country at every available opportunity, Prof. Peiris said.

Prof. Peiris pointed out that over 150,000 Iraqi civilians perished in the wake of US-UK led invasion in 2003.

Commenting on the ongoing debate on inclusion of foreign judges in a local judicial mechanism, Prof. Peiris declared that much touted claim that foreign judges were required to ensure credibility for the proposed judicial process was nothing but a myth.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the local judiciary had been belittled to pave the way for foreign judges and other expert personnel and such a process was inimical to Sri Lanka.

Referring to recent media reports pertaining to Speaker being asked to rule on the ratification of the first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Sri Lanka, Prof. Peiris warned of dire consequences if the Parliament was allowed to usurp powers of the judiciary. Prof. Peiris alleged that an attempt was being made to do away with safeguards now in place through what he called totally improper parliamentary actions.

The former External Affairs Minister emphasized that judicial power in respect of Sri Lankan citizens couldn’t be exercised by foreign tribunals. Such powers could be exercised by courts established within the framework of Sri Lanka’s Constitution and legal system, Prof. Peiris said.

Prof. Peiris said that the move should be examined against the backdrop of the government co-sponsoring Geneva resolution 30/1 to pave the way for foreign judges to be included in local mechanism.

The matter was debated in parliament last Thursday.

Prof. Peiris strongly criticized those in power for not speaking on accountability issue in one voice. The former Law Professor pointed out that the government had pledged in Geneva to include foreign judges, including those from the Commonwealth while Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC is on record as having said that foreign judges couldn’t be accommodated under the Constitution.



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