BASL rises to the defence of AG’s Dept

The Bar Association (BASL) has alleged that attempts are being made to interfere in law enforcement operations and the Attorney General’s Department in the wake of revelations made at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing into alleged Central Bank-Perpetual Treasuries bond scams.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by BASL President U.R. de Silva, PC yesterday: "It is an imperative requirement for a democratic society founded upon the rule of law, to preserve, protect and safeguard the independence of the judiciary. The Constitution of our Country makes specific provision in this regard since the ability to impart Justice impartially together with the law enforcement authorities being able to carry out their duties without fear, favour or undue influence being brought upon them pontifically or otherwise, is sine qua non or a functional democracy.

"As such Law enforcement authorities including the Attorney General’s Department in any Democracy that does not merely pay lip service to Good Governance, would not be directed by political authorities.

"Any demand to do so and any pressure or influence which would even indirectly suggest that these institutions be directed in that manner would result in the cornerstone of a Democratic society being damaged.

"In the circumstances, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka notes with grave concern of certain recent remarks and baseless allegations made against the Attorney General’s Department especially relating to particular officers in relation to their professional engagements.

"It is also disconcerting to note that attempts are being made by certain interested elements in society to interfere in the affairs of the law enforcement authorities: particularly the Attorney General’s Department through the Minister of Justice.

"The decision whether to prosecute or not based on the available evidence and whether any evidence is available in the manner required by Law is essentially within the professional purview of the Hon. Attorney General. Such decisions cannot be taken based on perceptions created in the minds of the Public by interested parties.

"The Minister of Justice can according to Law only be involved in the providing of administrative support to the Attorney General’s Department and undoubtedly has no right whatsoever and/or power to interfere with the affairs of the Attorney General’s Department and/or the law enforcement authorities.

"The objectives of the Constitution of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka mandate the Association to take all steps necessary’ to protect the independence of the Judiciary and the impartiality of the law enforcement authorities.

Therefore, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka requests all parties concerned to exercise restraint in their comments and refrain from attempts to exert undue influence and pressure on the law enforcement authorities. To act otherwise in the hope of exerting pressure on institutions that are not expected to defend themselves by public pronouncements, would only result in public confidence being eroded in these institutions for no fault of theirs."

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