Sustained bias against Sri Lanka:External Affairs Ministry Acting Secretary Kshenuka Seneviratne yesterday accused UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navaneetham Pillay of overeaching her mandate and transgressing basic norms which should be observed by a discerning international civil servant, by bringing into question the constitutional governance of a sovereign state. Seneviratne was alluding to the statement delivered by Pillay at the OHCHR press briefing on January 18.
“Your assertion that ‘Sri Lanka has a long history of abuse of executive power’ is offensive to this nation, and is clearly beyond your mandate. In this regard, you have transgressed the basic norms which should be observed by a discerning international civil servant, by bringing into question the constitutional governance of a sovereign state,” she said.
In a letter addressed to Pillay, Seneviratne, Additional Secretary Ministry of External Affairs, also stated it was most unfortunate that she (Pillay) had chosen to raise concerns about the independence and impartiality of the new Chief Justice just as he commences his term in this high office.
“In my view, this is reflective of the complete bias and negative mindset manifested and nurtured by parties inimical to Sri Lanka and with vested interests. By such an allegation, you have sought inexcusably to undermine the Office of Chief Justice. Further, this position articulated by you is a pre - judgement on your part, which has been a sustained practice adopted by you, in relation to Sri Lanka. Regrettably, this cavalier statement brings into question the standards of impartiality and equality expected of the UN System,” Seneviratne said.
“With regard to the impeachment of the former Chief Justice, the government of Sri Lanka as a sovereign country has followed the due procedure that is set out in the Constitution of our country. This procedure is indeed in conformity with principles which govern disciplinary proceedings against judges contained in the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary endorsed by the UNGA in 1985,” she said.
“The content of your statement sadly demonstrates that neither you nor your office has the understanding of the provisions of Sri Lanka’s constitution, and the related procedures for the removal of judges of the superior courts.
These provisions have been applied on several occasions in the past. For your information I annex a copy of the speech made by External Affairs Minister Professor G L Peiris on January10, 2013 in the Parliament of Sri Lanka which sets out the legal framework within which the impeachment process was carried out and responds to opposing views on its legality.
“I wish to state that Sri Lanka has engaged with the UN system consistently and transparently, and therefore expects reciprocity from your office. No doubt you would appreciate that it is imperative to base this engagement on the fundamental right of states to be treated equally. A statement of this palpably biased nature could hurt the engagement between Sri Lanka and the UN system.”