SL Supreme Court considers Rajapaksa's request on ICCRP
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 09:35 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Supreme Court Monday considered the application of SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking its advisory opinion in terms of Article 129 (1) of the Constitution whether and how individuals in Sri Lanka would derive benefits from rights contained in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The European Union, in view of a previous SC judgment informed Sri Lankan government that to qualify for the General System of Preferences Plus facility, the government would have to introduce a constitutional amendment to ensure rights under the ICCPR are rights recognized by the Constitution. Hence, Mr. Rajapaksa has sought the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court.
Members of the bench were Chief Justice Sarath Silva, Justices Nimal Gamini Amaratunge, Salim Marsook, Andrew Somawanse and Jagath Balapattebendige, legal sources said.
The Chief Justice who chaired the bench later announced after consideration of the President's request, that he would forward the court's advisory opinion on this matter to President Rajapaksa in due course.
Supreme Court in 2006 ruled that "the rights under the ICCPR are not rights under the Constitution of Sri Lanka". Consequent to the SC ruling, the government last year introduced a law to plug the gap but the United Nations has indicated that law is insufficient to assure compliance with the ICCPR.
The garment industry in Sri Lanka is dependent on the GSP Plus facility for its survival and the fate of over 100,000 jobs and over US$ 2 billion in export earnings hang on Sri Lanka getting the facility extended for 2009-2011. However the facility is currently enjoyed by 15 countries is depended on the good governance criteria and the acceptance of UN convention on human, labor and political rights.
Meanwhile, media sources reported quoting a top diplomat that an advisory opinion alone from the SC will not meet the European Union criteria.
"The government will have to introduce a constitutional amendment or the Supreme Court should have to reverse its earlier ruling. As far as the EU concerned, an advisory opinion cannot reverse a Supreme Court decision", the diplomat is reported to have said.