ECONOMYNEXT – Speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament Karu Jayasuriya Thursday hit back at President Maithripala Sirisena’s sweeping allegations against the Constitutional Council (CC) and the independent Human Rights Council (HRC).
Jayasuriya, as chairman of the Constitutional Council, said Sirisena’s allegations that the CC had rejected 12 of his nominations to the superior courts was misleading.
The president’s assertion that the CC was not recognizing seniority of judges was also incorrect. Jayasuriya said seniority was one of the criteria, but not the sole requirement in deciding promotions in the superior courts.
“If seniority is the only criteria, you don’t need a Constitutional Council to decide on the nominations made by the president,” Jayasuriya said in parliament a day after Sirisena’s wide-ranging criticism.
“The president’s claim that the CC rejected 12 of his nominations is also incorrect,” Jayasuriya said. “In some cases, the president recommends three or four names for one post and we can chose only one.”
Jayasuriya said Sirisena’s criticism of the CC’s judicial appointments amounted to casting aspersions of several chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal ratified by them.
“In fairness and to protect the dignity of those judges as well as the civil society members of the CC, I must say that all our decisions at the CC have been taken unanimously,” Jayasuriya said.
Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa is also a member of the Council.
Jayasuriya totally rejected Sirisena’s attacks on the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and said it had received internal acceptance for its work as an independent watchdog.
Sirisena told parliament that the HRC was delaying issuing the mandatory clearance certificates to Sri Lankan soldiers chosen to participate in United Nations Peace Keeping missions.
The deaths of two Sri Lankan UN peacekeepers in Mali could have been avoided if the HRC had expedited reinforcements to Mali for the Sri Lanka army to carry out a turnaround of troops, he said.
There was no immediate comment from the HRC, but official sources said the delay was really due to the military itself dragging its feet in providing the necessary documentation to issue certificates of clearance.
All Sri Lankan troops deployed on UN missions must be cleared of any atrocities or abuses during their service before they can join the UN blue berets.
Sirisena said the HRC should be siding with the military instead of raising questions. He also accused the HRC of questioning the police Special task Force about the shifting of convicts from Welikada to Angunakolapallassa.
Speaker Jayasuriya said Sirisena had been misinformed about the HRC action in respect of the Angunakolapallassa prison. “They only called for a report in view of the public criticism but never objected to the move (to relocate drug convicts there),” Jayasuriya said.
Sirisena said the HRC has become a thorn on the side of the law enforcement authorities. (COLOMBO, February 7, 2019 - SB)