The Law & Society Trust (LST) condemns the mob attack on the Mannar court house, allegedly at the instigation of a Cabinet Minister over a disputed ruling, as well as (reportedly) threatening phone calls to the Mannar Magistrate cum District Judge from the same member of the Government.
An attack on a court house is a serious infringement of the independence of the judiciary.
The independence of the judiciary is not a privilege 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 system 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 past injustices caused to the judicial institution in Sri Lanka by previous regimes, or satisfied by a mere promise to carry out token inquiries.
The Trust calls for an immediate and effective investigation into the said attack with sanctions being imposed against those responsible.
(Text of a press release issued by Law and Society Trust)