UK Bar passes resolution on Lanka

A full meeting of the UK Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has resolved to support the right of Sri Lankan judges and lawyers to adjudicate and practise law freely, fairly and independently.

The resolution comes following the impeachment of Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake.

“The Bar Council of England and Wales is extremely concerned about the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, which we believe constitutes a grave threat to the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka and to the Rule of Law. The Bar Council condemns this action and seeks to offer its vocal support for judges and lawyers across Sri Lanka,” Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said.

He said that Rule of Law is essential to any functioning and democratic society, to ensure that its most vulnerable can enjoy effective access to justice.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, at a special plenary session during the Commonwealth Law Conference in South Africa recently, also passed a resolution on Sri Lanka calling for the island to be suspended from the commonwealth over allegations of serious and persistent violations of the Commonwealth fundamental values.

The resolution jointly submitted by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA), also urged members of the Commonwealth to reconsider the holding of the next Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka as to do so will tarnish the reputation of the Commonwealth.

It also called upon the Members of the Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, to place Sri Lanka on the agenda of its next meeting on 26 April 2013. (Colombo Gazette)