Sri Lanka elected ruling class plot to end civic rights of ex-convicts
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s elected ruling class who have in the past enacted discriminatory legislation are plotting to permanently deprive the right of ex-convicts to vote or run to office despite having paid their debts to society by being in prison.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake said under current law parliamentarian who had been convicted and served a prison sentence of 6 months could run for office after seven years. Civic rights could be the right to vote or run for office.
In addition to the parliament, courts could also deprive civic rights of public officers engaged in corruption under Sri Lanka’s bribery act.
A Presidential commission that inquired into serious crimes and frauds by public officers had questioned the 7 year ban, Dissanayake said.
"What this means is even a convict after seven years can become a parliamentarian," Dissanayake told parliament during a debate on reports of a securities scam and other frauds.
He claimed that the commission had highlighted a ‘shortcoming’ of the law and seven years was not enough.
"We fully support the suggestion of the commission to completely deprive the right to office," Dissanayake said.
Recent Presidential commissions have recommended legal action against ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ex-Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and several senior public officials.
Even Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he is prepared to consider an amendment to section 81 of the constitution which deals with depriving civic rights of persons, figuring in a commission of inquiry.
Analysts say it is easy to be just or kind to beautiful and honest people or those who confirm to societal norms.
"The mark of real civilization, humanity and freedom in a society is shown by how so-called ‘ugly people’ in the community are treated," a political analysts said.
"These could be minority language speakers, those of minority faiths, people of different skin colour, the disabled, and especially persons suspected of crimes who are entitled to due process and also convicts.
"Convicts should be given all assistance to re-integrate to society and change their behaviour if they are willing to."
Political analysts say constitutions were developed to restrain the coercive powers of the state and infringing on the freedoms of unarmed citizens and not to restrain citizens and their progress in society.
Sri Lanka’s parliament in 1956 passed a law to deprive language rights of citizens. In an earlier nationalist law naturalization was banned.
In 2015 ex-Finance Minister Karunanayake slapped a retrospective tax and punitive taxes on other companies to get back alleged ‘ill-gotten gains’.
Most of the current parliamentarians without shame voted to change the constitution in 2015 so that any citizen below the age of 35 could not be President, in a blatant illiberal and unjust move to target ex-President Mahinda RAjapsaksa’s son Namal Rajapaksa and an entire young generation, critics say.
William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister of Britain at the age of 24 and the current Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz (who has nationalist leanings) is only 31 years old. Fidel Castro became the communist leader of Cuba at the age of 32.
Former South African Nelson Mandela had been in prison as had several others in countries with repressive laws or where the judiciary has been subverted or the police is in the habit of planting evidence.
"It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails," Mandela said later.
"A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones."
Disananayake claimed that corruption and mis-use of taxpayer funds was especially egregious.
Dissanayake’s party has caused billions of rupees of tax payer’s money to be channelled to unemployed graduates who support his party by heaping on the backs of tax payers the burden of their salaries and lifetime pensions, by expanding an already bloated state service. (Colombo/Feb06/2018)