Government accuses Pillay of violating her mandate

The government today accused the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay of violating her mandate through a statement she issued last week on Sri Lanka.

The Government said the statement lacks any semblance of objectivity, steeped as it is in bias, marred by erroneous facts and further compounded by the inappropriate tenor of its language, all of which are indicative of unequal and invidious treatment of Sri Lanka.

“Your action in resorting to unwarranted comments with a series of innuendos on an issue which is entirely a domestic matter for Sri Lanka, and that too without first engaging with our Permanent Representative or the delegation of Sri Lanka in Geneva, demonstrates yet again the deviation from established procedure, amounting to blatant interference in an issue of a sovereign country,” Kshenuka Senewiratne, Acting Secretary to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva said in a letter addressed to Pillay.

The letter said that with regard  to the impeachment of the  former Chief  Justice,  the   Government of Sri Lanka as a sovereign country has followed the due procedure that is set out in the Constitution of our country.

“This procedure is indeed in conformity with principles which govern disciplinary proceedings against judges contained in the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary endorsed by the UNGA in 1985,” the letter said.

“I wish to point out that it was following submission of the motion signed by 117 (out of 225) Members of Parliament, that the Speaker constituted a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the issues involved in the allegations made against the former Chief Justice. Subsequently, the Report of the Select Committee was submitted and the matter was debated for two days in Parliament, with the active engagement of Opposition political parties. Thereafter, once the resolution to impeach the former Chief Justice was passed in Parliament with a majority of 106 votes (155 voting for and 49 against) the required address was made as our law requires to H.E. the President. It was only thereafter that the former Chief Justice was dismissed from office,” the letter further added.

Senewiratne told Pillay that contents of her statement sadly demonstrates that neither she nor her office has the understanding of the provisions of Sri Lanka’s Constitution, and the related procedures for the removal of judges of the superior courts.

“Your assertion that “Sri Lanka has a long history of abuse of executive power” is offensive to this nation, and is clearly beyond your mandate. In this regard, you have transgressed the basic norms which should be observed by a discerning international civil servant, by bringing into question the constitutional governance of a sovereign State,” the letter added.