09 June 2011
A global group for legal professionals, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), expressed their concerns at the 'increasing erosion of judicial independence' in Sri Lanka, in a letter addressed to the Sri Lankan government.
The letter itself, dated 19 May 2011, was confidential, but the content was outlined in a statement released by IBAHRI on 02 June 2011.
'The IBAHRI outlined its concerns to the Government of Sri Lanka in regard to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the proposed 19th Amendment – which limits the term of the Chief Justice to five years and gives the President of Sri Lanka the authority to appoint the Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission,''In conjunction, the 18th Amendment and the proposed 19th Amendment represent a gradual erosion of judicial independence in Sri Lanka.'
See statement here.
IBAHRI's co-chair, Sternford Moyo, asserted, "we are concerned that the appointment of the Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission, a key judicial institution, will make it vulnerable to political influence, perceived or otherwise".
In May 2009, the IBAHRI strongly condemned Sri Lanka's failure to ensure the independence of the legal profession and the rule of law in a report entitled 'Justice in Retreat'.
See also our earlier post 'International lawyers 'alarmed' at free speech hit list'.