Aug 22, Auckland: The New Zealand Bar Association has expressed serious concern over the reported surveillance on president of the Sri Lanka Bar Association, Attorney Upul Jayasuriya.
In a statement issued Friday, the New Zealand Bar Association said it joins the International Bar Association (IBA) and other Law Societies and Bar Associations worldwide over the reported surveillance of Mr. Jayasuriya.
The New Zealand Bar Association said it is aware that IBA has in the past raised concerns relating to the independence of the legal profession and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.
The Association said according to the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Mr. Jayasuriya has officially reported incidents of surveillance on at least two occasions.
"The New Zealand Bar Association is concerned that these incidents are an attempt to intimidate Mr. Jayasuriya following certain public statements issued by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka," it said.
"Principle 23 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states that lawyers have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice, and the promotion of human rights. Principle 16 stipulates that 'Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference," it further pointed out.
In view of the above the New Zealand Bar Association noted its serious concern about this situation and urged the authorities "to take all necessary steps to protect the right to freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and generally."