Centre for Policy Alternatives on 22 July, 2016

Written Submissions by the Centre for Policy Alternatives to the Subcommittee of the Constitutional Assembly on the Judiciary

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is thankful to the chairperson and members of the Subcommittee of the Constitutional Assembly on the Judiciary, for the invitation to provide written submissions in respect of the judiciary.

Even though some institutional improvements towards securing the rule of law have been made by the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution enacted last year, the present reform debate takes place in a context where public confidence in the judiciary is quite low. This is the result of decades of systematic failings of the judicial system, especially under the two republican constitutions. The promulgation of the second republican constitution, like its predecessor, resulted in removing the judges of the apex court who were in office at the time. Under the same constitution, judges have been threatened and intimidated, locked out of their offices, humiliated, subjected to degrading treatment before select committees of Parliament, and even removed from office without any regard to basic principles of natural justice, provisions of the constitution, or rulings of the Supreme Court. Parliament has also on several occasions acted contrary to or in complete disregard of judgments of the Supreme Court. All this is in addition to the politicisation of the judiciary through questionable and politically motivated appointments made by several Executive Presidents.

CPA recognises that constitutional provisions alone – no matter how well crafted and despite the best of intentions – cannot restore the credibility and potency of the Sri Lankan judiciary. However, it is important to recognise the constitutional flaws that led to our present predicaments and create a constitutional environment more conducive for an independent and robust judiciary.

To this end, CPA makes the following recommendations in the structure set out below:

I. The Independence of the Judiciary

II. Court Structure and Jurisdiction,

III. Judicial Review

IV. Judicial Accountability

Download the submission in full here.