COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Three legal associations of the Commonwealth have called for Sri Lanka’s suspension from the body of former British colonies and to reconsider holding a heads of government meeting in the country later this year citing an erosion of judicial independence and repression.
Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association, Commonwealth Legal Education Association and Commonwealth Magistrates ‘and Judges’ Association said in a resolution dated Wednesday that Sri Lanka’s continued presence in the Commonwealth and allowing its President Mahinda Rajapaksa to chair the Commonwealth during a heads of governments meeting scheduled in November would tarnish its reputation and be seen as condoning governments violating its principles, the groups said.
They cited a controversial impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake earlier this year and Parliament’s non-compliance with court orders on the process.
Rajapaksa sacked Bandaranayake after a Parliament committee found her guilty of misuse of power and possessing undeclared bank accounts. He appointed a close aide as the new chief justice.
Judges and lawyers criticized the move as flawed and Bandaranayake said she was not given a fair trial.
Two years ago Parliament abolished provisions for an independent judicial services commission and vested powers of appointing and sacking judges on the president.