Sri Lanka fact-finding, 2013

In March 2013, an IBAHRI delegation undertook a remote rapid-response fact-finding mission to investigate the impeachment proceedings of Chief Justice Bandaranayake, the independence of the legal profession and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

The report, entitled A Crisis of Legitimacy: The Impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake and the Erosion of the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka, concluded that the removal from office in Sri Lanka of Chief Justice Bandaranayake was unlawful, is undermining public confidence in the rule of law, and threatening to eviscerate the country’s judiciary as an independent guarantor of constitutional rights.The delegation found there to be a systematic effort to intimidate and discredit lawyers and others who advocate and promote respect for fundamental rights in Sri Lanka.The report made ten recommendations, addressed to the Sri Lankan authorities and to the UN, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and Member Countries of the Commonwealth the delegation.

The IBAHRI high-level delegation investigated the removal of Chief Justice Bandaranayake and the independence of the legal profession in Sri Lanka through a series of in-depth conversations by telephone and via the internet with a range of key players in Sri Lanka, including judges, lawyers, journalists, parliamentarians and civil society activists. The interviews were conducted remotely because authorities would not permit an investigation to take place within Sri Lanka. The IBAHRI delegation comprised:

  • Honourable Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, a former Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
  • Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, the first United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers;
  • Sadakat Kadri, a British barrister and the mission rapporteur; and
  • Shane Keenan, IBAHRI Programme Lawyer.

Report launch, House of Lords, 22 April 2013

The IBAHRI report was launched at a high-level panel event at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws and IBAHRI Co-Chair. Panellists included members of the delegation, Justice Lawal Uwais and Sadakat Kadri, together with Dr Sunil Coorey, a representative of the Sri Lanka Bar Association. Click here to read more on the launch, including photos and footage from the event.

Film - Sri Lanka facing constitutional crisis concludes IBAHRI report