PCoI Report on Political Victimisation: BASL worries over Motion in Parliament
By Treshan Fernando
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expressed its concern over a Motion in Parliament to implement decisions based on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into Political Victimisation report. These issues were presented in a statement released by the BASL on 17 April.
The BASL revealed that a Motion has been fixed for 21 April in the business of Parliament to implement certain decisions made by Cabinet on 15 February based on the PCoI report. Meanwhile, certain proceedings challenging the said PCoI report were pending before the Supreme Court. Additionally, it was pointed out that the PCoI report has neither been made public nor has a copy been provided to the BASL despite a request being made. The statement read, “In fact, several senior members of the Bar including almost all Past Presidents of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and the present President of the BASL, requested the Secretary of the BASL to call for a copy of the report.” In particular, the BASL stated that, "the contents of the report may undermine the Rule of Law in this country, impair the independence of the Judiciary, and erode the impartial and efficient functioning of the Attorney General's Department".
The statement also said that while there are several areas of concern to the Bar stemming from media reports of the findings and recommendations of the said PCoI, of utmost concern are that the motion seeks to implement the recommendations of the Commission to withdraw certain ongoing criminal cases.
Crucially, the BASL voiced their concerns regarding the manner and timing in which the report was placed on the Order Book of Parliament. The BASL was also worried that steps, including the presenting of the said Motion to Parliament, have been taken to implement certain findings and recommendations in the PCoI report without the report itself being released to the public.
Should the Motion be passed, the BASL warned that it would be inimical to the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and an affront to the Rule of Law, the independence of the Judiciary and would set an unhealthy precedent with regard to due process.
The BASL stated that the Motion should have no effect or influence on any Court of law, the Department of the Attorney General or on the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. The statement further stated that the BASL will firmly resist any attempt to use the said Motion to withdraw any criminal action pending before a Court of Law.