In a bid to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the country, the Government is to introduce the 19th Amendment to the Constitution empowering independent commissions and the judiciary, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.
According to the Prime Minister, the Government is in the process of drafting the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which could see the restoration of independent commissions and restoration of powers to the judiciary.
Speaking at the Attorneys General Conference to mark the 130th anniversary of the Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka yesterday (Jan. 19), the Prime Minister added that Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe has been entrusted with the task of bringing three prominent Bills namely the Witness Protection Bill, Freedom of Information Bill and National Auditing Bill to Parliament soon.
Premier Wickramasinghe stressed that the foundation of the judicial system in the country which had over a 200 year history was challenged and its structure faced damage during the last five years.
He added that the rule of law was neglected during the war on terrorism.
“From 1983 for 20 years, while we fought terrorism, we ensured the principle that the rule of law was upheld,” he added.
The Premier added that this principle adopted for 20 years was forgotten. “It was said that rule of law should be forgotten and terrorism should be crushed. Terrorism meant that there was no rule of law”, he said.
He added that the country witnessed an era in which the Army Commander who defeated LTTE terrorists was brought before court and jailed.
“Overnight traitors became heroes and heroes became traitors,” he added. The Prime Minister said the then Chief Justice was removed from her position and there were many instances of such incidents in the past.
Prime Minister Wickramasinghe commended the Bar Association of Sri Lanka for taking a very forthright stance over these undemocratic and unlawful acts of the previous regime.
“The Attorney General’s Department too stood its ground amid stiff pressure. It played a vital role in ensuring that the rule of law was upheld to some extent and not trampled completely,” he added.
He said that in democratic governance, legitimacy comes from the fact that we adhere to the rule of law. “That was something we forgot. Even after the war this continued,” he added.
The Prime Minister referring to the famous Liversidge and Anderson case, said laws cannot be silent amid clash of arms.
The Prime Minister said the people of Sri Lanka wanted a change at the presidential election and the President and the Government is implementing that change.
Prime Minister Wickramasinghe upheld the principle that all matters in the country should be determined by a domestic jurisdiction since Sri Lanka was not a signatory to the Statute of Rome.
“Nevertheless we will engage with the UNHRC and concerned members in a positive manner and hope to come to a settlement on the outstanding issues of Human Rights,” he added.
He said that Sri Lanka will again operate the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.