Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sri Lanka gov't dismisses int'l criticism, saying Constitutional amendment possible   2013-01-17 20:18:39
COLOMBO, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Fending off criticism of the Chief Justice's impeachment, the Sri Lankan government on Thursday dismissed warnings by the United States that foreign investment or aid could be affected by the move and even suggested that a Constitutional amendment was in the pipeline.
During a lengthy media conference, Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella reiterated that the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was Constitutional.
However, they admitted that there were concerns over the opaqueness of certain procedures to appoint and remove judges and new legislation could be introduced to lend more transparency.
Rambukwella in particular referred to the statement made by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa regarding the need for fresh legislation to outlines the procedure for removing Supreme Court judges but stopped short of mentioning details.
"Now there is a thought there should be another (Constitutional) amendment strengthening the parliament's position and if there are any errors, correcting them. So that will be done to express our views. If so the Cabinet and President will decide how that will be done."
The current Sri Lankan constitution is 34 years old and has been amended 18 times. Rambukwella added that any changes could move beyond judiciary concerns and into other parts of the Constitution.
Yapa and Premajayantha are members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to probe 14 charges against Bandaranayake.
The two ministers also dismissed any issues concerning international condemnation that has been pouring in during the past few weeks with America, Britain and Commonwealth criticizing the impeachment.
On Thursday, the United States hinted that it could roll back 16.5 million U.S. dollars in funding for the government, but Premajayantha was upbeat that would not pass.
"If foreign investment was going to stop, it would have done so in the immediate aftermath of the war when there were many allegations on war crimes against the country. If it did not happen then I don't see why it should happen now," he said.
Editor: Lu Hui