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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Sri Lanka: Commonwealth chair Rajapaksha party rejects Latimar House principles of the Commonwealth

‘Latimar House principles a necessity, beneficial to Lanka

UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe yesterday claimed that some UPFA ministers didn’t know what was good for the country as well as the government.
President’s Counsel Rajapakshe said that he was dismayed by the UPFA’s opposition to his motion seeking consensus on the removal of judges, of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, in accordance with the Latimar House Principles already adopted by several leading members of the Commonwealth.

Those vociferously opposed to Latimar House principles seemed to have forgotten now that Sri Lanka had taken over the Commonwealth leadership, the government couldn’t shun them, the UNPer said.

Asked whether he was trying to cause political turmoil, Rajapakshe said that the government should have acted swiftly and decisively to introduce Latimar House principles on its own. Recollecting the circumstances under which the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached, Rajapakshe said that the government could have earned the respect of the international community by introducing Latimar House principles.

Rajapakshe said: “My move was meant to prevent political interference in the judiciary. The removal of Dr. Bandaranayake under controversial circumstances underscored the necessity to take corrective measures. In the backdrop of Sri Lanka taking over the leadership of the Commonwealth there cannot be any ambiguity with regard to Latimar House principles.”

The former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said that adoption of Latimar House principles would send a positive message to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ahead of its next session in March, 2014.

“The Principles provide an effective framework for the implementation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values of democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law”, the MP said.

Rajapakshe said that the Latimar House Principles envisaged the appointment of a three-member panel consisting of three judges representing Superior Courts of the Commonwealth, other than the country where the move to impeach the CJ was made, to examine the allegations.

The UNPer said that in case allegations were brought against other judges or the President of Court of Appeal, a panel consisting of three sitting or retired judges of the Supreme Court would have to be appointed to go into the issue.

As the appointment of the panel was subject to consensus among the Speaker and Prime Minister representing the ruling party of any Commonwealth nation and the leader of the Opposition, the UPFA need not worry about political instability in the wake of Latimar House principles, he said.

Rajapakshe expressed the belief that the adoption of Latimar House principles would ease international pressure directed at the government over accountability issues.

Rajapakshe switched his allegiance to the UNP several years ago over differences with the SLFP leadership as regards good governance.

Recalling his efforts to arrange for Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s release from Welikada, Rajapakshe said that the eventual freedom for one-time army commander eased international pressure, hence helped the government to improve its image. Adoption of Latimar House principles would be beneficial to the government struggling on the diplomatic front.

Rajapakshe said that he would press for reforms and take up the issue with the Commonwealth Secretariat
Shamindra Fernando



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