Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera making a statement in Parliament yesterday said Mohan Peiris has acted in complete violation of the international standards of judicial conduct and he cannot be expected to command the respect and confidence of the international community or of any honest Sri Lankan expecting accountability and transparency in a court of law.
The Foreign Minister while recalling the international backlash that resulted by the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from her post two years ago, said statements condemning the move and calling for her reinstatement came from many governments and international organizations including the Commonwelath, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of the Judiciary and the International Bar Association.
Samaraweera added that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights questioned how anyone could have any confidence in the independence and impartiality of Mohan Peiris when handling allegations of serious human rights violations by the authorities.
“Cases against his installation as the Chief Justice were ruled on or dismissed by benches appointed by Mohan Pieris – respondent in the case himself, an extreme violation of the fundamental principle of natural justice, that ‘no man shall be a judge in his own case’
The Foreign Minister expressed hope that they will be able to raise the judiciary from the depths to which it has sunk to one that conforms to contemporary international standards under the new Chief Justice and the reforms that they propose to introduce.
Samaraweera said that institution of a credible domestic mechanism is the most effective way of beginning the process of hearing between communities and preventing international prosecution which many feel would be a violation of sovereignty.
He said that if he is to convince the international community that Sri Lanka is quite capable of dealing with matters related to the allegations or war crimes and international human rights and humanitarian law, the country should have a judiciary that is competent, independent and impartial.
“An international inquiry, initiated last year, is now currently nearing completion. The results of this inquiry could lead to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and other civilians appearing before an international tribunal unless tangible steps are swiftly taken to restore judicial credibility.
“The challenge today is to ensure that we are able to effectively enjoy the rights privileges and benefits of re-entering the community of civilized nations and ensure that we as a country do not suffer economic sanctions ill- dignity and a tarnished reputation because we fear justice or because we are too short sighted to be able to pursue that justice in a credible manner ourselves.
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