Parliament is to summon the Attorney General Yuwanjana Wanasundera over ‘32 files’ containing criminal charges against individuals on which his Department is yet to take action, a senior Cabinet Minister has told the Sunday Observer. He is to be summoned before the Judicial Oversight Committee, which will be set up in Parliament in January, under the provisions of the 19th Amendment.
Issuing a statement Bar Association of Sri Lanka says that “summoning of individuals before Parliament to explain the legitimacy of their acts could seriously undermine the independence and integrity required of such public functionaries.”
We reproduce below both reports in full:
Summoning of AG undermines authority – BASL
The summoning of individuals before Parliament to explain the legitimacy of their acts could seriously undermine the independence and integrity required of such public functionaries, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka stated in a recent communiqué.
“Whilst the legislative supremacy of Parliament is respected, summoning persons before Parliament to explain the legitimacy of their work undermine independence and integrity and could result in public ridicule”, they conferred.
BASL also noted that they were concerned about the Attorney General being summoned before Parliament in connection with orders or decisions related to the functions of his office.
The BASL reiterates that levelling unfair and unfounded allegations are inconsistent with legitimate criticism and can only lead to an erosion of the credibility of the institutions or officers in which such persons function.
Raising its concerns over the growing vilification and personal attacks on the members of the judiciary and on the Attorney General and officers of the Attorney General’s Department giving wider publicity in the media the BASL said that it is the right of the public to objectively criticize the action of judicial officers and public officers in a functioning democracy.
AG to face judicial oversight committee of house
Over inaction on 32 criminal charge files: Department denies allegations
Parliament is to summon the Attorney General Yuwanjana Wanasundera over ‘32 files’ containing criminal charges against individuals on which his Department is yet to take action, a senior Cabinet Minister told the Sunday Observer.
The AG is to be summoned before the Judicial Oversight Committee, which will be set up in Parliament in January, under the provisions of the 19th Amendment.
A group of MPs who do not have ministerial and deputy ministerial portfolios will serve as members of the Judicial Oversight Committee.
“Members of the government, on various occasions, have levelled various allegations against the Attorney General for his lukewarm approach towards investigations against certain members of the previous regime. The Judicial Oversight Committee will inquire into the allegations and assess the performance of the Attorney General and his Department,” the Minister explained.
He said there were allegations that the Attorney General had not taken action on 32 cases of which initial investigations had been completed by the Police Financial Crimes investigations Division (FCID) and other law enforcement authorities.
“Members of the government, including certain Cabinet Ministers, have expressed their opinions strongly on taking actions against those who were involved in bribery and corruption under the previous regime. What we see right now is a selective approach on prosecution that does not help the government’s anti-corruption drive,” he explained.
Meanwhile, when contacted by the Sunday Observer, a senior official from the Attorney General’s Department said, there was no deliberate or intentional delay on the part of the Attorney General’s Department.
He vehemently denied claims that the AG’s Department had not taken action on 32 cases of which initial investigations had been completed and said there have been only 23 cases of which nine have been sent back to the FCID for further investigations.
“Out of the rest of the 14 cases, suspects have not been found in four cases. That’s where it stands at the moment,” he added.
He also pointed out that most investigations conducted by the FCID into financial crimes had been submitted to the Attorney General without carrying out complete investigations. “They have been referred back to to the FCID to conduct further investigations,” he said
“Various aspects have not been considered which are essential to consider before sending out charges,” the official added. There is a dedicated team, led by a Senior Additional Solicitor General, to attend to matters related to the FCID.
There are Senior State Counsel and State Counsel to whom cases have been allocated,” he explained.
by Rasika Jayakody