Sri Lankan law is loosely based on British law, with the big difference being that we don’t follow it. Sri Lankan government officials and their relatives are effectively above the law, free to commit crimes as far as rape and murder. In one example, sitting MP Duminda Silva previously dodged charges of statutory rape and now murder. Even lower level government officials have gotten away with murder (Re: Tangalle) and political sons have an open license to beat people up.
Archive for the 'Law' Category
A friend of mine just left Sri Lanka because it was hard for him to find work and he had no possible path to citizenship or safely starting a business of his own. Because he’s a foreign national. Sri Lanka has no real path to immigration and officials can be downright hostile to people that even consider migrating here. Even dual citizenship has been suspended for years, limiting out access to talent in the diaspora. Compare this to other countries that actually compete to get skilled immigrants. In this regard, Sri Lanka doesn’t compete at all.
Today’s protest for the Chief Justice (for justice, really) was broken up by goons, who seemed to be backed by the cops, or at least ignored. This is the truth behind the legalese nonsense the government has been trying to pull – that lawyers, attorney generals and judges have been assaulted and threatened with violence, all because Basil Rajapaksa wants to violate the Constitution and get access to a bunch of provincial monies. They’re willing to tear the whole legal edifice down to get what they want, and that includes encouraging goons to threaten peaceful protestors with violence, like my mum.
Rizana Nafeek was just killed by the Saudi government, executed if you want to put an imprint of justice on it. It’s not just. A child died in her care when she was working there at age 17, which was tragic. Saudi Arabia, however, has no real justice system, certainly not for foreigners. Based on a coerced confession (which she retracted) and despite the fact that she was a juvenile, the Saudi government has just executed her.
According to the Sunday Times, Sri Lanka will reintroduce dual citizenship, however, new applicants will have to be personally interviewed by the secretaries of three ministries, including Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The probability of getting these three guys in a room once let alone 2,000 times is low, so this seems like a bit of a farce.
My friend Navin took this amazing photo above. It’s an epic image of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake greeting protestors on a day of protests and counter-protests. I think it show the problem the government has here. The last time I saw a picture this epic was when government Minister Wimal Weerawansa was fasting against the UN and Mahinda came to revive him with a glass of water.
The impeachment case against the Chief Justice is getting more and more farcical. Above you can see that three-wheeler drivers have been protesting for the government. They are using the same smears that anyone who opposes the government gets – that they’re corrupt, that they work with NGOs, etc. In fact, the only charge is going against the king (Mahinda) and the only point these drivers are making is that they’re loyal. Which is fine, if this were 982, but it’s 2012 and it’s really quite silly.
I’ve been to the Welikada Jail, where the recent riots and slaughter of nearly thirty people took place. It’s a strange place, right on a main road with prisoners going in and out (on work detail I guess). There’s a waiting room and a canteen and you enter through a vaguely secure tunnel. But it’s really a rather open jail. Here are my comments from an earlier visit, with some lawyers:
Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake is being threatened with impeachment because she defied the Rajapaksa government. Specifically, she said that they needed Provincial Council approval before Basil Rajapaksa could fold Samurdhi and other rural/poor support schemes into a national system. This essentially gave him central control over a huge patronage scheme. Since this Divineguma bill did seem to require provincial approval, the CJ ruled that. Now she’s being impeached.
Attacking a judge is a very serious thing. Sri Lanka, under CBK, reinstated the death penalty after high court judge Sarath Ambepitiya was killed. The suspension of a judge contributed to the downfall of both Pervez Musharaff in Pakistan and Mohamed Nasheed in the Maldives. Hence, it’s pretty big news that High Court Judge Manjula Tilakaratne was attacked and pistol-whipped on Sunday, and that Sri Lankan judges and lawyers are now protesting.