The Law & Society Trust views the reported attack on the Mannar court house by a group of persons, allegedly as a result of instigation by a Government Minister over an order made by a judicial officer as well as (reportedly) threatening phone calls made to the Mannar Magistrate cum District Judge regarding the same, with severe concern. It must be noted that an attack on a court house constitutes a most severe infringement of the independence of the judiciary.
The independence of the judiciary is not a perquisite of judicial office, claimed for the personal benefit of judges but is fundamental for the impartial administration of justice according to law and is indeed an inalienable feature of the Rule of Law.
The Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary (1995) asserts that independence is essential to the proper performance by the judiciary of its functions in a free society observing the Rule of Law. This guarantee goes to the roots of judicial performance as well as the public acceptability of decisions. Public confidence in the legal and judicial systems stems from the assumption that judges act according to law and do so in a manner that is free from political pressure or interference.
Securing the independence of the judiciary is therefore a foremost duty of government. That duty cannot be bypassed by reference to other historical injustices caused to the judicial institution in Sri Lanka or be satisfied by a mere promise to carry out investigations.
The Trust calls for an immediate and effective inquiry by the State into the said attack resulting in sanctions being levied against those responsible.
A Statement from the Law & Society Trust