On 10th January 2013, the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, was removed from office by a vote of Parliament, after a Select Committee of seven government ministers declared her guilty of misconduct.
A report by Geoffrey Robertson QC published this week by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) concludes that the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka was innocent of the misconduct charges which brought about her impeachment.
The report highlights that Mrs Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka’s first woman judge, was forced out because her “careful and conscientious” rulings had displeased the government and the family of President Rajapakse.
For the Australian lawyer, the charges against her are not based on evidence and some of the allegations could not conceivably amount to ‘misconduct’.
He says that the most basic rights of a defendant were denied by the seven government ministers who put her on a secret trial. They were all biased against her and refused to allow entry not only to the public but to distinguished international observers. They gave her no time to prepare a defence and told her there were no witnesses to be called when this was not the position.
The report calls for the UK to subject the seven Sri Lankan cabinet ministers who convicted her, and 117 government Parliament Members who signed a “false and fabricated” impeachment motion to be refused entry visas and to have their bank accounts in Britain frozen. It wants Sri Lanka suspended from the Commonwealth, and urges the Queen not to attend the November Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which will be held in Sri Lanka.