No one in my Ministry exerted undue influence on judges - Marapana | Daily News

No one in my Ministry exerted undue influence on judges - Marapana

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana refuted allegations that anyone in his ministry had attempted to exert undue influence on the judiciary by asking judges to discuss specific cases with visiting Special Rapporteur on the freedom of assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé.

Making a special statement in Parliament yesterday, Minister Marapana said that his ministry had followed proper procedure by communicating the requests for meetings by the Special Rapporteur through the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Services Commission. “I am saddened to note that some Members of Parliament had sought to show that the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affair’s letter was an interference with the judiciary and also was in Contempt of Court. Neither of these assertions are true,” he said.

The Minister said it has been brought to his notice that last Tuesday (July 23) and Wednesday (July 24) several Members of Parliament had brought up the issue of the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of assembly and of association,

 Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé and the action taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conveying a request for a meeting for the Special Rapporteur with the Chief Justice and Judges of the Colombo High Court.

“Since many a view had been expressed by Members of Parliament leading to considerable confusion, I wish to place before you the following:

The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of assembly and of association which is currently underway is part of similar visits undertaken by UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka.”

He pointed out that the idea of welcoming such visits is to have a transparent process in place, whereby the Government of Sri Lanka hopes to engage with the international community, including the UN, in a spirit of openness and dialogue.

“This is not the first time that we have had a visit of a Special Rapporteur; there have been eight such visits which have taken place since January 8, 2015.

On all such occasions, it has been the regular practice for the Foreign Ministry to coordinate the activities of the SR in Sri Lanka and to arrange meetings with the Government sector.

Before each such visit is undertaken, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs routinely receives from the UN, a list of persons that the visiting Special Rapporteur wishes to meet,” Marapana noted.

With respect to the current visit by the Special Rapporteur which is in question, the Foreign Minister emphasised that it is important to note that as with other such visits, the Ministry convened a preparatory meeting of stakeholders to discuss arrangements.

Thereafter, the Ministry writes to the relevant institutions, conveying the request for formal appointments by the Special Rapporteur.

In this instance, the same procedure was followed, including with respect to over 20 meetings sought, including with the Chief Justice and Judges of the Colombo High Court.

“At the above mentioned preparatory meeting, representatives from the Department of Police and Attorney General’s Department highlighted the possibility of the visiting Special Rapporteur bringing up issues mentioned in the Foreign Ministry letter addressed to Secretary/ Ministry of Justice. The Attorney General’s Department undertook the task of providing updates on such cases.

It was in this backdrop that the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affairs, addressed the letter to Secretary/ Ministry of Justice, Secretary/ Ministry of Defence and Attorney General, mentioning the cases. The purpose was to alert these institutions on the possibility of the Special Rapporteur raising issues regarding the particular cases,” he explained.

Minister Marapana noted that in the letter from the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affairs, nowhere has it been recommended that the appointment sought with the Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court in Colombo be granted.

The letter only conveyed the wish of the Special Rapporteur for these appointments.

Similarly, nowhere in the Foreign Ministry letter is it stated that the cases will be discussed, but only alerted the institutions concerned that it may be discussed. This was consequent to the stakeholder meeting held on 5 July before the visit took place, he said.

The Foreign Ministry has followed proper procedure by communicating the requests for meetings by the Special Rapporteur through the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Services Commission, Marapana said, adding that the Judicial Services Commission having considered the Ministry letter consulted the Chief Justice who granted the appointment.

Therefore, Minister Marapana expressed sadness over some Members of Parliament seeking to show that the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affair’s letter was an interference with the judiciary and also was in contempt of Court.

“Neither of these assertions are true. Again I wish to emphasize that this is not the first time that the Foreign Ministry has taken the course of action that it has taken for this particular visit.

In fact two previous Foreign Secretaries have requested similar meetings in June 2017 and October 2017 by writing directly to the Office of Chief Justice. However, in this instance, the Foreign Ministry had only conveyed the request of the Special Rapporteur to the Secretary/Ministry of Justice,” he pointed out.

The Foreign Minister highlighted that during the visits of special procedures mandate holders that the Foreign Ministry has always worked with all relevant line agencies in Sri Lanka in a spirit of consultation and engagement.

 


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