20A will make democracy negligible - WMC

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 17 2020

The Parliamentary Council (PC) which replaces the Constitutional Council (CC) does not in any way reflect good governance and its powers in the democratic process are made negligible by the proposed 20th Amendment, the Women and Media Collective (WMC) stated.

Issuing a statement on the proposed 20th Amendment, specifically on independent Commissions under Clause 6, the Collective pointed out, Members of the PC will only be Parliamentarians and that it will no longer include independent members of eminence and integrity. Also, unlike the CC, the PC can only make observations which have no binding effect on the President.

In addition to judicial appointments, the President therefore has unfettered power to make appointments to the Election Commission, the Public Service Commission, the National Police Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, the Finance Commission, the Delimitation Commission, the Attorney-General, the Auditor-General, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) and the Secretary-General of Parliament. 

All these bodies, the Collective observed, have been set in place as regulatory mechanisms to ensure transparency, accountability and justice. By solely concentrating power in the President to make these key appointments, the very independence of the entities that keep persons in power, accountable is compromised, the Collective added.

It also mentioned three key bodies within the transitional justice framework, namely the Right to Information Commission, the Office of Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations could be rendered non-operational by their exclusion through Clause 6 of the proposed 20th Amendment. This is because under it, the PC that replaces the CC has not been empowered to consider these appointments. ‘Since their establishment in 2018, these three bodies have enabled members of the public and especially women to access rights and justice. We are therefore concerned by the Government’s intentions to ignore access to justice related provisions’. (RLJ)

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 17 2020

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