Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

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Archive for October 10th, 2012

An assault on the judiciary amid rising dissent

Posted by harimpeiris on October 10, 2012

Last weekend, Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Secretary Manjula Tilakaratne was brutally assaulted by an armed gang outside St.Thomas College, Mt.Lavina where he was waiting after dropping his son there for a sporting event. The assault occurred after Mr.Tilakaratne on the instruction of the JSC had issued a much publicized press statement, that there were attempts by the Executive to interfere in the independence and the work of the Judiciary. The statement itself followed a refusal by the JSC, comprising the Chief Justice and two senior judges of the Supreme Court to respond to presidential summons, supposedly to discuss budgetary allocations for judicial training.

The attack on Mr.Tilakaratne was preceded by Cabinet level discussion his statement and pronouncements by government spokesmen that disciplinary action is being considered against him. Further the JSC and Mr.Tilakaratne was being vilified in sections of the State media and Mr.Tilakaratne publicly stated that following such state media vilification, he and his family‚Äôs personal safety was now at grave risk. Despite this obvious security risk, his security provided by the judicial security division (JSD) was withdrawn over the weekend, leaving him exposed as a sitting duck for the seemingly well planned and executed operation against him. The result was that many held the government responsible for this outrageous attack, notwithstanding the predictable condemnations of the same and the judiciary struck work for two days, closing down the Courts. The tensions between the judiciary and the government are clearly rising. The stoning of the Mannar Magistrate, the strong stand against the same by the Bar Association, now the assault on the JSC secretary, the state media campaign of vilification, all point to rising tensions between the judiciary and the executive. Where this will end is uncertain but for the government some caution and reflection is in order. Read the rest of this entry »

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