UN independent expert expressed serious concern over attacks on independence of judiciary

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Gabriela Knaul

A UN independent expert has expressed serious concern over the impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the recent attacks against lawyers who have been fighting for the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka.

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul says "The recent steps taken by the executive and legislature towards impeaching the Chief Justice appear to be the culminating point of a series of attacks against the judiciary for asserting its independence".

On 8 December, a Parliamentary Select Committee established to investigate and report to the Parliament on the allegations levelled against the Chief Justice, found her guilty of three out of the five charges which it investigated.

Ms. Kanul says "It is of high concern that the procedure for the removal of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is extremely politicized and characterized by lack of transparency, lack of clarity in the proceedings, as well as lack of respect for the fundamental guarantees of due process and fair trial".

She urges "the authorities of Sri Lanka to reconsider the impeachment of the Chief Justice due to the lack of due process and fair trial guarantees and to ensure that the judiciary can operate free from external pressures, threats or any interference" .

According to information received by the independent expert, attacks and threats against members of the judiciary and lawyers, as well as interference in their work, have dramatically increased over the past few months.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’24″

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