June 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka on Monday highlighted the many important steps taken by the present Government to uphold the independence of the judiciary and lawyers at the 35th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Responding to the report presented to the UNHRC by the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha delivered a statement on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka as the country concerned during the Clustered Interactive Dialogue.
The Statement followed the presentation of the Report (A/HRC/35/31/Add 1) on the visit of previous Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Ms. M&3243;nica Pinto to Sri Lanka from 29th April to 7th May 2016.
Highlighting the reforms and amendments introduced by the National Unity Government through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to ensure the independence of the country's judiciary, Ambassador Aryasinha said constitutional safeguards have been introduced to uphold the independence of the judiciary and the bar.
The envoy said Sri Lanka is pleased that the Special Rapporteur has stated in her Report that pressure exerted on Judges to influence their decision-making has "largely ceased under the new government and that no recent direct attack has been reported to the Rapporteur."
Report also states that there was "a clear perception, during the visit, that after the change of government, some Judges had started affirming their Independence," and that Judges feel more secure in their authority and more confident in the belief that they will be adequately protected. The Special Rapporteur has also stated that the general environment in which lawyers work, including their sense of security, has greatly improved since January 2015.
The Sri Lankan representative recognizing that much more needs to be done to ensure proficiency in all languages, said service of an interpreter is used to overcome the language barriers, and almost all lawyers are conversant in either Sinhala or Tamil and English.
Thanking the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges & Lawyers for accepting the invitation of the Government and undertaking a visit to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka considers its engagement with Special Procedures as an important component of its reconciliation and governance reform efforts, including steps being taken to uphold the human rights of all its citizens.
Read the Ambassador's Full statement