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* Commonwealth expresses concern over Sri Lanka's move to impeach Chief Justice
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 09:54 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 16, Colombo: The Commonwealth has expressed concern over Sri Lanka's move to impeach the country's first female top judge, Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

In a statement issued Thursday Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma expressed his concern about the recent impeachment motion in the Sri Lankan parliament against the Chief Justice.

"The Commonwealth's principal consideration is that the provisions of Sri Lanka's constitution are upheld with regards to the removal of judges, respecting the independence of the judiciary," Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said.

The Secretary-General stressed that the Commonwealth believes the preservation of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary are vital to the healthy functioning of a democracy.

"The Commonwealth's Latimer House Principles, which govern the relationship between the three branches of government, are a cornerstone of our association's values," Sharma noted.

"All our member states have committed themselves to upholding the Latimer House Principles so that citizens' faith and confidence in democratic culture is assured and the rule of law is maintained," he said.

Both the United States and the European Union have expressed concern over the legislature's measure to impeach Dr. Bandaranayake. The U.S. urged the government to avoid any action that would impede the efficacy and independence of the country's judiciary.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) recently asked the President and the Speaker of parliament to reconsider the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice.

The impeachment motion signed by 117 ruling party legislators was handed over to the Speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament on Thursday November 01.

The Speaker appointed an 11-member Parliamentary Select Committee consisting of seven legislators form the government and four from the opposition to probe the charges against Dr. Bandaranayke.

The Chief Justice is charged with 14 counts including misusing her position and failing to adequately declare her assets.

The PSC chaired by Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa commenced its sittings Wednesday (November 14).

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