Association expresses grave concern about Bandaranayake impeachment, replacement with an “executive branch official”
The American Bar Association (ABA) lent its voice to international concerns regarding the recent impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake despite a ruling by the Supreme Court, and the appointment of what it calls an “Executive Branch official” to replace her.
In a letter addressed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa dated 24 January, the ABA says that without an impartial Judiciary, “Sri Lankan governmental claims of commitment to democracy and the rule of law ring hollow.”
The letter signed by ABA President Laurel G. Bellows has also been copied to former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador for Sri Lanka Michele Sison and Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickrematunge and External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris.
Bellows expresses the Association’s “grave concern” about the independence of the Judiciary in Sri Lanka. It said it was particularly concerned with “the removal of the Chief Justice from office despite the unconstitutionality of the proceedings and her replacement by an Executive Branch official.”
In its letter to the President, the American Bar Association urged the Government of Sri Lanka to “restore judicial independence, heed the rulings of the Supreme Court and other judicial authorities and respect the essential role of the Judiciary in a democratic society.”
The ABA says it is an independent, non-governmental organisation representing more than 413,000 members worldwide. “It regards the rule of law as the cornerstone of a free and fair society” the letter said.
Numerous international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, hold judicial independence and human rights indispensable to the just rule of law, Bellows said in her letter on behalf of the ABA. (DB)