C’wealth SG reacts to charges of non-disclosure of impeachment reports

Saturday, 24 August 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Commonwealth Secretariat yesterday responded to reports that it had obtained legal opinions on the Shirani Bandaranayake impeachment that it was not disclosing, saying those communications were provided in confidence to Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. Commonwealth Spokesman Richard Uku said a number of reports and opinions were requested and received about the removal of Bandaranayake who he referred to as the “former” chief justice of Sri Lanka. Issuing what he called Secretary General Sharma’s position on the disclosure of legal opinions, Uku said it was “Commonwealth practice to ensure that the Secretary-General is as well informed as possible when determining the most effective way in which he can assist in politically sensitive situations.” “Communications which are provided in confidence to the Secretary-General are treated as internal documents and protected accordingly,” Uku explained on the Secretariat’s website. He said it would be injurious to the discretion, and ultimately the effectiveness of the Secretary-General if information of this kind were to be released. The clarification comes in the wake of a report that Sharma’s office had obtained legal opinions on the Sri Lankan impeachment of Bandaranayake that it had not disclosed even to the foreign ministers represented in the Commonwealth’s powerful decision making body, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group or CMAG. Canadian Special Envoy to the Commonwealth, Senator Hugh Segal has criticised the Secretary General’s decision saying the CMAG, that held long consultations on Sri Lanka in April, had the right of access to those reports commissioned by Sharma before the key meeting. (DB)