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SRI LANKA: A good case always wins when judged impartially

January 1, 2013

An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission
SRI LANKA: A good case always wins when judged by an impartial tribunal
Basil Fernando

The government’s claim is that the case against the Chief Justice is an open and shut case, a foolproof case. It claims that the charges are extremely grave and that the evidence possessed by the government is monumental and black and white.

If this is in fact the case, then the government has vast political mileage to gain by placing its evidence before an impartial tribunal. The verdict that will be arrived at will enjoy the greatest credibility and therefore the government will not be blamed for a witch hunt against the Chief Justice. All the critics would be silent forever if an impartial tribunal comes to a finding on the basis of government claims; if they are true, an impartial tribunal will naturally come to that conclusion.

Thus, in this, the government has all to gain and the critics of government have all to lose as a result of the appointment of an impartial tribunal.

The very appointment of such a tribunal itself will be a vast gain for the government.

When that is clearly the case, why does the government not take this option? It is the option that has the maximum benefit for the government.

It may be because the government is not sure of its claim of having a winnable case before an impartial tribunal. It may be fearing that under close scrutiny its case may be exposed as false or that the case will fall apart no sooner than it is examined by an impartial tribunal. An observer is fully justified in coming to that conclusion if the government persists in not placing this case before an impartial tribunal. By refusing to allow the case to be heard in that manner, the government has already lost the argument.

No politically wise leadership will refuse to take an easy road that will lead to a credible victory when it has that option.

Instead, the government is engaging in massive propaganda, day in and day out, to show that it is acting in good faith and that the Chief Justice in the wrong.
No amount of propaganda is a substitute for genuine proof. Even if the government causes a victory by passing a resolution in a parliament on the basis of the PSC findings, it will never be able to escape the damning criticism that the verdict was not arrived at by an impartial tribunal but rather by an overwhelmingly biased group of the government’s own members of parliament. That blame can never be washed away and that will have its own implications for the government.

Further, it is one of the most shameful moments in Sri Lanka’s history that the overwhelming power of the government through the media is used to maximum capacity against a single woman who happens to be the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

That belies the government’s claim that it is the Chief Justice and a few others in significant NGOs that are opposing the government’s impeachment move. The level of the government’s propaganda suggests that it is facing a massive threat. Only a massive threat warrants such massive campaigning.

Once again, why use such massive and arduous efforts when there is one simple and easy method for the government to achieve what it wants without gaining adverse criticism, by way of having an impartial tribunal?

The guilt on the government will be attributed purely on the basis of their refusal to have an impartial tribunal, when it is all to the government’s advantage to have one if its claim of impeccable evidence is true.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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