Politicized courts, Compromised rights, says ICG on Sri Lanka Judiciary

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 July 2009, 05:28 GMT]
"Sri Lankan judiciary is not working in a fair and impartial way that secures justice and human rights for everyone regardless of ethnicity. This risks undermining the government’s recent military victory over the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). A durable national reconciliation process is only possible if human and constitutional rights are fully restored," warned a report released by the International Crisis Group (ICG) Tuesday.

The text of the press release issued with the launch of the report follows:

“The judiciary has not acted as a check on presidential and legislative power but has instead contributed to the political alienation of Tamils”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “Under the former chief justice, the Supreme Court’s rulings strengthened political hardliners among Sinhala nationalist parties”.

Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and worsened ethnic tensions. They are neither constraining militarisation of Sri Lankan society nor protecting minority rights. Instead, a politicised bench has entrenched favoured allies, punished foes and blocked compromises with the Tamil minority. The judiciary’s intermittent interventions on important political questions have limited settlement options for the ethnic conflict.

Today, neither the lower nor the higher courts in Sri Lanka provide any guarantee of personal security or redress against arbitrary state violence. Although torture in police custody is endemic, courts are unwilling to provide adequate remedies for illegal or abusive detention. Police, judges and government officials have acted in ways that further the goals of powerful political actors, undermine the rule of law and deepen the current political and humanitarian crisis. The possibility of transitional justice, which is necessary for society to break the cycle of violence, is still missing.

The recent appointment of a new chief justice is an opportunity for reforms to begin. A first step toward restoring judicial independence would be a return to an orderly appointment and transfer of judges. This needs to be done both in the lower and appellate judiciary. There should also be fundamental reform of Sri Lanka’s extensive and often abused emergency laws, which are used disproportionately against Tamils. Provisions in the emergency laws concerning arrest, detention and derogation from routine criminal procedures need to be removed, as well as those that criminalise free speech and the exercise of associational rights.

“Fixing institutions and reforming laws will only have a limited effect until political actors, and especially the presidency, feel the cost of infringing on judicial independence”, warns Donald Steinberg, Crisis Group Deputy President for Policy. “Without a concerted effort by the bench and bar, the political costs of interfering with the judiciary will remain minimal," the press release said.


Related Articles:
03.06.07   Judicial Corruption
03.07.05   Supreme Difference


External Links:
ICG: International Crisis Group
ICG: The Limits of State Sovereignty Neelan Tiruchelvam lecture by Gareth Evans

 

Latest 15 Reports
19.04.18 21:15   Photo
JUSU urges Tamils to mark Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance in its true spirit of uprising
18.04.18 23:03  
Cooray emerges as broker of civil contracts to occupying Sinhala military in North
17.04.18 23:31  
SL Resettlement Ministry twists figures on lands seized by Sinhala military in North
16.04.18 20:02  
Mano Ganesan challenged in Jaffna, politician complains of threat
15.04.18 10:13  
7 DS officials under pressure to collaborate with Sinhala colonisation schemes in Batticaloa
14.04.18 23:19  
Colombo schemes new type of subservient CSD colonies in Jaffna diverting foreign aid
13.04.18 23:18   Photo
SL military brings back paramilitary violence to control peaceful protests as NGO tricks fail
12.04.18 19:03  
SL Forest department blocks access to 300 acres of agricultural lands in Ampaa'rai
11.04.18 23:20  
Tamil political prisoner launches hunger-strike at Anuradhapura prison
10.04.18 18:19  
Genocidal Sri Lanka imposes forcible military training for CSD pre-school teachers
09.04.18 11:40   Photo
Fisheries society cautiously welcomes Court decision on fishing access to Naayaa'ru Tamils
08.04.18 23:28  
Militarisation of pre-schools akin to child soldiering: NPC Education Minister
07.04.18 21:34  
Muslim politicians block relocation of SL military base in Batticaloa
06.04.18 06:35   Photo
NPC finally awakens against SL Mahaweli Authority obstructing territorial integrity of Tamil homeland
05.04.18 16:46  
Vavuniyaa Judge warns SL Attorney General against delaying tactics on TPP cases
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29693