Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has urged the Sri Lankan Government to pause for further careful consideration following the passage by the country’s Parliament of the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.
“The impeachment of a Chief Justice is a very serious matter. In this particular case, it has called into question aspects of the Constitution of Sri Lanka,” he said in a statement.
He said that the Commonwealth, collectively, is profoundly concerned about this situation.
“I strongly urge that time be taken to reflect and consider fully the constitutional and other ramifications of the differing positions taken by the Judiciary and Legislature before any decision is taken by the Executive on the impeachment of the Chief Justice.
Sharma says he has been in touch with the Sri Lankan Government at the highest levels to offer Commonwealth assistance to find a way forward.
“I recognise that this is a matter for Sri Lanka, but am also conscious of our shared Commonwealth values and principles, to which Sri Lanka and all member governments have subscribed,” the Secretary-General said.
Meanwhile the United Kingdom called on the government to respect democratic principles and safeguard the Chief Justice and Legal Profession.
Commenting on the Sri Lankan Parliament’s vote to impeach the Chief Justice, a Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“The British Government is deeply concerned by the impeachment proceedings against Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. We share the concerns already expressed by many people in Sri Lanka over both the process and related reports of the intimidation of members of the Sri Lankan Bar Association. The motion to impeach the Chief Justice runs contrary to the clear rulings of Sri Lanka’s highest courts and the proceedings appear to contravene basic principles of fairness, due process and respect for the independence of the judiciary and the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles.
“Together with our international partners, we call on the Sri Lankan Government to respect democratic principles and the right to peaceful protest and to ensure the continued safety of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.”