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Sunday August 14th, 2022

Duminda’s pardon may be arbitrary if certain provisos unsatisfied: Sri Lanka Bar Associaiton

ECONOMYNEXT – If any one of a number of considerations were not satisfied in the release of former MP and murder convict Duminda Silva, the presidential pardon granted to him would be unreasonable and arbitrary, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said June 24 afternoon.

Related: Former Sri Lanka MP and murder convinct Duminda Silva out on presidential pardon

The BASL said in a statement that it has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and requested that he convey to both the Bar and the public:

  1. The basis on which Silva was selected for the purpose of granting a pardon under article 34 (1) of the constitution
  2. The circumstances which were taken into consideration in granting such pardon
  3. The reasons as to why Silva’s case stands out from others who are currently sentenced
  4. Whether a report was called for by the president from trial judges as required by the proviso to article 34( 1) prior to granting the pardon and, if so, the contents of the report
  5. Whether the advice of the attorney general was called for prior to granting of the pardon and, if so, the contents of such advice
  6. Whether the recommendation of the minster of justice was obtained prior to granting the pardon and, if so, whether the minister made such a recommendation

If any of the above considerations are not satisfied, the BASL said, the pardon will result in “erosion to the rule of law and result in a loss of public confidence in respect of the administration of justice”.

According to the BASL, whilst article 34 (1) allows the president to grant such a pardon, either free or subject to lawful considerations, the provisos to the article require the president to call for a report from the judge who tried the case where the offender has been condemned to death. Such report is required to be forwarded to the attorney general for advice, and the proviso also requires the attorney general’s opinion to be referred to the minister of justice who too is required to submit a recommendation to the president, the statement said.

“It is the right of the public to know whether the said pardon has been granted in accordance with the report of the trial judges, the opinion of the attorney general, and the recommendation of the minister of justice,” the BASL said.

Whilst the president has the power and discretion to pardon, such discretion must always be exercised judiciously and such power must not be exercised arbitrarily and selectively, it added. (Colombo/June24/2021)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices continue to climb

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s average coconut prices grew 3.7 percent to 64,618.23 rupees for 1,000 nuts at the last auction held on Friday August 12, official data showed.

The highest price was 62,900 rupees for 1,000 nuts, while the lowest was 57,000 rupees at the auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority.

Buyers offered 1,019,395 nuts at the auction and sold 576,906.

Exports of coconut-based products have risen by 12 percent in January to June to 434.48 million dollars from a year earlier, data show. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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Chinese tracking vessel cleared to dock at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port

Hambantota Port

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given the green light to Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5 to dock at the Chinese-built Hambantota Port from August 16 to 22.

Sri Lankan authorities had first given clearance to the Chinese vessel on July 12, to make a port call at the Hambantota Port from August 11 to 17​ for replenishment purposes.

However, following a diplomatic standoff after concern about the tracking vessel’s anticipated arrival were reportedly raised by the US and India, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry requested China to defer the port call until “further consultations”.

A report by Sri Lanka’s privately owned Times Online news website said Saturday August 13 morning that the foreign ministry has authorised the docking of the ship.

Related:

Sri Lanka permits entry to controversial Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5

The ministry’s official statement released Saturday evening confirmed that the ship has been given clearance to dock at the Hambantota Port for the new dates August 16 to 22.

“The Ministry wishes to reiterate Sri Lanka’s policy of cooperation and friendship with all countries. Security and cooperation in the neighbourhood is of utmost priority. It is Sri Lanka’s intention to safeguard the legitimate interests of all countries, in keeping with its international obligations. The Ministry is deeply appreciative of the support, solidarity and understanding of all countries, especially in the current juncture when the country is in the process of addressing severe economic challenges and engaging in multiple domestic processes to ensure the welfare of the Sri Lankan people,” the ministry said, without naming the stakeholder countries. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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Sri Lanka looking to provide relief to bona fide protestors: justice minister

Pix by T.N.Nawas

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has entrusted the process of identifying individuals who engaged in violence during the widespread anti-government protest to a “different group”, as there is a “practical issue” with separating those individuals, the island nation’s Justice Minister said.

“There is a problem. This is not a legal issue; it is a practical issue because the Aragalaya consists of several groups. In fact even the police has difficulty identifying who were genuinely involved in the peaceful struggle and the others who came from outside and caused some violence,” said Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksha, speaking to EconomyNext on Wednesday August 10.

“We needed assistance in identifying those who [protested] bona fide. We want to give them relief; [not] take any legal action against them.”

Sri Lanka saw a massive uprising against the government’s inability to protect people from a debilitating economic crisis caused by wrong economic policies. The public took to the streets to demand the resignation of then President Gotabaya Rajapaksha and a stop to Sri Lanka’s systemic corruption.

Most protestors focused on sustained protests in several areas of the island, particularly the GotaGoGama agitation site in front of the President’s Secretariat.

However there were incidents of violence that saw houses of ruling party MPs looted and burned down and public property damaged. President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence was also burned down in July, while he was Prime Minister and protestors were occupying the Official Residence of President Rajapaksha, who had by then fled the country.

Wickremesinghe declared a State of Emergency shortly after, granting the forces power to arrest anyone suspected of engaging in violent behaviour.

However, many of the arrested protestors allege that they were not part of the “violent minority”.

“This was such a peaceful protest. When the Bastille was stormed there was not a brick left in the place,” said one protestor.

The protestors subsequently handed over the occupied government buildings to the authorities, and have now wrapped up the occupation segment of the protests following to a court order.

Activists both local and international are asking the government to repeal the State of Emergency, but Wickremesinghe has not indicated that he plans to do so anytime soon.

The Supreme Court meanwhile has granted leave to proceed to a Fundamental Rights Petition filed by former Human Rights Commissioner of Sri Lanka Ambika Satkunanathan.

Satkunanathan tweeted Friday August 12: “The Supreme Court granted leave to proceed in Articles 12(1) and 14(1) in the fundamental rights petition I filed challenging the declaration of the state of emergency and the emergency regulations.”

Though Satkunanathan had filed the petition for other allegedly violated Articles, the Supreme Court will only be proceeding with Articles 12(1) and 14(1) which deal with equality under the law and freedoms of speech, expression and assembly.

Several prominent protestors have been jailed under the Emergency laws, and on Wednesday August 10 the Immigration Department cancelled the visa of a Scotswoman who had documented the protests.

Minister Rajapaksha said that he had met with protestors, and discussed the situation regarding arrests.

“We are in the process [of identifying protestors]. We entrusted that to a different group on the advice of the president and we will do that in the following days,” he said.

“The police will have to take action only against those who engage in vandalism,” he said. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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