Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sri Lanka heads towards a crisis

R.K. Radhakrishnan
AP Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. File photo
With the Sri Lankan Supreme Court determining on Thursday that a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) had “no legal authority” to declare guilty or pronounce a decision affecting the rights of the judge, the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has set the stage for a legislature versus judiciary tussle.
Earlier, the Court of appeal, which was hearing the case, had turned to the Supreme Court for an interpretation of the Constitution. As per the Sri Lankan Constitution, Supreme Court is the sole and exclusive authority for interpretation of the Constitution.
The Apex Court, pointing to obvious flaws in the PSC process, made a far-reaching, and clear-cut order on the right of the defendant: “The right of the Judge under investigation to appear at the investigation and be heard being a fundamental principle of natural justice should also be provided by law with a clear indication of the scope of “the right to be heard” such as the right to cross examine witnesses, to call witness and adduce evidence, both oral and documentary.”
Proceedings void
Reading out the determination, the Court of Appeal said: “The proceedings that commenced before PSC is not contemplated by law and the commencement of proceeding and continuance is prima facie void.”
The PSC, which had probed allegations of corruption against Ms. Justice Bandaranayake, found her guilty and had submitted its findings to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa in December. Parliament is slated to take up a debate on the impeachment from January 8. A civil society activist, Chandra Jayaratne, had approached the courts over the issue. The court had subsequently served notices on all PSC members. The Speaker said members of the PSC, constituted in November to probe the allegations against the Chief Justice, need not heed the notice of the Court of Appeal. All ruling party members and members of the main opposition party, the UNP, stayed away from the court proceedings. Two other opposition parties, TNA and JVP, submitted themselves to court proceedings.
Asked if the decision meant that a judiciary versus Parliament clash was on the cards, Cabinet spokesperson and Media Minister Kehelia Rambukwella said: “I can’t say no to it.”

Launch of Guidelines for Labor Sections of Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions in Labour Receiving Countries

Thu, 2013-01-03 06:36 — editor
Colombo, 03 January, (
With the view to serve the migrant workers better, Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare is to launch the Operational Manual.
‘Operational Manual for Labour Sections of Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions in Labour Receiving Countries’ is to be launched by the Minister at the Lakshman Kadhiragama Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies , Colombo, on the 4th of January.
The publication of this Operational manual is a part of the government efforts to strengthen grievance handling mechanisms by Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions in countries where Sri Lankans migrate for employment.
In the meantime, according to Donglin Li, the ILO Country Director of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the ILO office is also launching the ILO Commissioned study report on ‘Strengthening Grievance and Complaint Handling Mechanisms to Address Migrant Worker Grievances in Sri Lanka’.
It is said is an effort to review and analyse available grievance redress mechanisms in Sri Lanka in order to address any gaps.
- Asian Tribune -

Army denies harassing student

January 2, 2013 | Colombo Gazette
leadership training
The army has denied reports that a female student had been hospitalized after being allegedly subjected to harassment at the Sri Lanka Air Force Training Centre, Diyatalawa.
Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya says no student undergoing leadership training at Diyatalawa or any other camp has been subjected to harassment as alleged.
He said that the student in question had been interviewed by the Commanding Officer of the Camp after her father, who is a government servant, had spoken to him regarding alleged inconveniences she is facing during training.
“During the interview the said student has informed the following difficulties that she is faced with. She has to work according to a time schedule and has to wait for everyone in the daily routine, which according to her is an inconvenience. She has a rash in her foot and hence unable to wear shoes. The commanding officer has then asked whether there has been any harrassment and the student has assured that there had been none what so ever,” the army spokesman said.
Then the Commanding Officer has explained that when one works in a team one has to do things together as a team and for that one may have to wait for others to gather. Waiting 5-10 minutes should not be considered an inconvenience, that is part of diversity that all are not able to wash, eat, or get dressed as fast as another.
“On the matter of not being able to wear shoes, she has been excused from wearing until a rash that she was diagnosed with is cured,” he said.
He also said that this morning, after news reports of the student being harassed was published an inquiry was made from all the students (approx 700) and all confirmed that they have no problems either in the facilities provided or training imparted by the relevant authorities, Brigadier Wanigasooriya said.

Rizana likely to be pardoned

Thursday, 03 January 2013 22:57 | Daily Mirror

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Jammaz, said that according to information received by him, Rizana Nafeek presently housed in death row in Saudi Arabia would be pardoned and could return to the island, in consideration of a request made to the Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Azeez by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and also having regard to legal considerations.

These views were expressed by the ambassador to SLMC leader and Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem, when they met today at the latter’s office, Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The ambassador was replying to a question posed by the minister, about whether the request of the Sri Lankan President and the various documents submitted could be made use of to obtain the release of Rizana Nafeek.

The ambassador had also said that he was aware that the President of Sri Lanka and the government had striven hard to obtain a pardon for Rizana, and stressed that, on the instructions of the Saudi King; the governor of Riyadh Salmon had begun discussions with the relatives of the child who had died at the hands of Rizana. The ambassador had promised to intervene personally in this regard.

Sri Lankan bourse at 12-week high on lower rates; rupee up

COLOMBO | Wed Jan 2, 2013 6:44am EST

Jan 2 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks gained in heavy volume on Wednesday to a near 12-week high as a fall in fixed income yields prompted investors to turn to more risky assets, while the rupee ended up after the central bank said it would maintain a flexible exchange rate.
The main share index closed 0.72 percent, or 40.79 points firmer, at 5,683.79, its highest close since Oct. 12, Reuters data showed.
Analysts said the positive sentiment was due to easing interest rates and a rosy central bank outlook for 2013.
Treasury bill yields eased between 9-33 basis points to nine-month lows at a weekly auction, in line with a surprise cut in interest rates last month.
The central bank in its policy announcement relaxed restrictions on foreign exchange trading with effect from Wednesday including a three-month limit on forward booking and it raised commercial banks' net opening positions.
The central bank also said it expected a 7.5 percent economic growth in 2013, while it will maintain a flexible exchange rate for the rupee.
Shares of Commercial Bank of Ceylon, which accounted for 85 percent of the day's turnover of 1.68 billion rupees ($13.16 million), rose 0.97 percent to 104 rupees.
Foreign investors were net sellers of 17.15 million rupees worth of shares after being net buyers of a record 38.63 billion rupees worth shares last year.
The rupee closed firmer at 127.40/45 to the dollar compared with Tuesday's close of 127.70/75, on bank selling, dealers said.
Sri Lanka Forex Association, a body which represents currency dealers, welcomed the central bank moves to boost foreign exchange trade. ($1 = 127.7000 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Robert Birsel)