Oz lawyer urges commonwealth countries to boycott Sri Lanka over CJ's impeachment

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 10:50 hrs

Prominent Australian lawyer Geoffrey Robertson wants Australia and other commonwealth countries to boycott a leaders' meeting in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo to protest against the impeachment of the nation's chief justice.

Robertson stated in a written report for England's Bar Human Rights Committee that "governments which respect the rule of law" should not attend the meeting. Robertson also wants the Queen to steer clear of November's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting after Shirani Bandaranayake was declared guilty of misconduct seven weeks ago, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bandaranayake, the first woman to hold Sri Lanka's highest judicial post, was sacked by President Mahinda Rajapaksa two days after parliament voted to impeach her in January.

She had previously stalled a bill that sought to grant greater political and financial power to the president's youngest brother who is the economic development minister.

In his report, Robertson argues the Sri Lankan government's treatment of the judge undermines the rule of law to such an extent that the country which suffers it will suffer the loss of that independent power which is essential to make democracy work.

He says the attack on the independence of the judiciary is a "calamity" for Sri Lanka but also an international problem because it could be emulated elsewhere if allowed to pass without consequences.

Speaking at the report's launch, Robertson said the "fabricated charges" against Bandaranayake were heard by government ministers in a secret star chamber with witnesses bullied and browbeaten. (ANI)

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