Regional News of Wednesday, 18 September 2013
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has questioned Sri Lanka’s eligibility to chair the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November this year over the dismissal of its Chief Justice.
“Sri Lanka has demonstrated complete disregard for the Rule of Law and judicial independence,” Nene Abayaateye Amegatcher, President of the GBA, said at the 2013-2014 Annual Conference of the Association in Ho.
“If the Commonwealth is to maintain its credibility, it must live up to the values it proclaims and take decisive action against the repressive action of its member states including Sri Lanka,” he said.
Nene Amegatcher said Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake’s dismissal was based on “an unfair impeachment process that was ruled illegally by the Supreme Court,” of that country.
He said Chief Justice Bandaranayake’s dismissal “constitutes a direct attack on judicial independence, undermining the ability of the Sri Lankan legal system to provide accountability and end impunity.”
Nene Amegatcher, therefore, called on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to reconsider Sri Lanka’s position as Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Nene Amegatcher said the GBA was equally appalled by the arrest and detention of Ms Beatrice Mtewa, President of the Zimbabwe Law Society while she was carrying out her duty as a lawyer in March this year.
“We note that the arrest of Ms Beatrice Mtewa did not comply with United Nations basic principles on the role of lawyers,” he said.
“Those principles are that Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.
“Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities and lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions,” Nene Amegatcher said.