Panel discussion - A Crisis of Legitimacy: The Rule of Law in Sri Lanka, 22 April 2013

On 22 April 2013, the IBAHRI launched its fact-finding report on Sri Lanka, at the House of Lords, London. Moderated by Alex Wilks, IBAHRI Senior Programme Lawyer, the expert panel included fact-finding delegation members The Honourable Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, a former Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Sadakat Kadri, a UK Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, together with Dr Sunil Coorey, of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. Hosted by Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws, the launch was attended by representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka, High Commissions, human rights groups, lawyers and journalists.  

During the launch, panellist Sadakat Kadri said, ‘Sri Lanka is due to be holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, in Colombo in November 2013. It is up to the Commonwealth to decide whether or not that goes ahead. But the IBAHRI notes that the Commonwealth is committed by its Charter to the observance of the rule of law, good governance, independence of the judiciary and the upholding of human rights; the question for the Commonwealth, therefore is, does it stand for those values? If it does, it needs to consider very carefully whether Sri Lanka is an appropriate venue for the CHOGM and whether it is an appropriate chair in office for the two years after that, because Sri Lanka will become the body that represents the Commonwealth and its core values around the world.’ Mr Kadri, the rapporteur of a fact-finding delegation that, under the auspices of the IBAHRI, investigated the independence of the legal profession in Sri Lanka added, ‘There is a very real danger that if the CHOGM meeting goes ahead [in Sri Lanka], the present government will consider it a licence to continue along the course that it has so far proceeded and fail to uphold the Commonwealth’s values.

Justice Lawal Uwais remarked during the debate, ‘The removal of Chief Justice Bandaranayake was done by the parliament and the Executive of Sri Lanka in contravention of the rule of law. The removal was rushed, ignoring the fact that there was a case before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, challenging the right to initiate the proceedings to remove the Justice from office'. Read more


A Crisis of Legitimacy: The Impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake and the Erosion of the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka, April 2013


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