Sri Lanka lawyers demand removal of chief justice

EconomyNext – Sri Lankan lawyers staged a protest outside the Supreme Court Monday demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Mohan Peiris appointed under controversial circumstances by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was defeated in last week’s presidential poll.

"We’re calling upon him to resign, to respectfully resign, and we hope that he will resign tonight or he will retire," declared J C Weliamuna, a human rights and constitutional lawyer.

"If he doesn’t, we have no option but to make sure that we continue with our struggle until we achieve the independence of the judiciary," he told reporters who gathered outside the court to cover the protest organised by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).

"The legal community are giving a message – that such a person (Peiris) should not hold the position of chief justice," said Weliamuna, who is also a board member of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement.

The protest came days after Rajapaksa lost the January 8 poll that he himself had called two years ahead of scheduled.

His defeated was attributed to widespread public anger over corruption, nepotism and interference with the independence of public institutions like the police and judiciary.

Rajapaksa engineered parliament’s impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in what was widely seen as a flawed process.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called for Bandaranaike to be reinstated as Chief Justice.