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Call for foreign monitors to ensure justice

Protesters say Chief Justice's impeachment threatens judiciary

Lawyers at an earlier rally for an independent judiciary (file photo) Lawyers at an earlier rally for an independent judiciary (file photo)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • November 9, 2012
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Lawyers have started an island-wide campaign to collect signatures calling for international observers of the impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake..

The petition will be sent to major international bodies and rights watchdogs including the United Nations, Amnesty International and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, asking for representatives to monitor the situation, said Achala Kumarasiri, the media spokesman of the Young Lawyers Association.

“We want the international bodies to intervene to protect the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka,” said media spokesman Achala Kumarasiri.

An 11-member Parliamentary Select Committee, including seven government appointees, will investigate 14 charges against the Chief Justice, including unexplained wealth and misuse of power.

Activists say the impeachment is a politically motivated attempt to stifle the judiciary's independence.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka yesterday expressed its concerns that the government's move is threatening the independent and fair functioning of the judiciary.

“We call upon the executive and legislative stakeholders to address this issue and to ensure that the freedom of the judiciary to function as it should is not violated under any circumstances,”  said a statement signed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Bishop Norbert Andradi.

Leading Buddhist monks also urged the government to reconsider the impeachment motion. International rights groups and some countries have expressed concern about the impeachment, prompting External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris to lambast the United States, Germany, and several organizations for their criticism.

“Some countries and organizations have denounced the Chief Justice’s proposed impeachment without knowing much about the issue,” Peiris said.

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